June – Coyote Creek

June, Coyote Creek, 24×18. oil on canvas

Third in my yearlong Preserve Coyote Valley Series.

Although called a creek, it is actually a river, and larger than the Guadalupe River which also runs through the San Francisco south bay area. Starting on Mount Sizer and the Diablo Range, running through two reservoirs, then flowing through much of Coyote Valley, Coyote Creek is the largest watershed in the Santa Clara Valley, also known as Silicon Valley.

A number of local conservation groups are working to clean up and restore Coyote Creek to it’s original state where steelhead trout and other species thrived years ago. It’s an uphill battle with urban, suburban and other forces such as homeless camps keep polluting the waters. Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition and South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition are the forefronts in this battle. I am always amazed at all the volunteer activity organized by Steve Holmes and others to help keep the south bay creeks clean.

My third painting in this quest is a studio piece rather than painting on location. I have painted Coyote Creek many times, but rarely in the studio. I visited it five times in my yearlong quest to paint “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley“. You can read about some of it here and here. During the quest I painted Coyote Slough here, a homeless camp here, and on Christmas day here.

I did this painting from photo studies and depicts Coyote Creek as it meanders through  Anderson Lake County Park just below Anderson Reservoir

As usual, I might touch it up a bit later on, and not entirely satisfied with the lower part, and the entire painting looks a little too ‘busy’, but will leave it as is for now.





May – Kalana Avenue

Kalana Avenue, 24×12, oil on canvas

Second in my yearlong Preserve Coyote Valley Series.

Coyote Valley, a large expanse of farmlands, orchards, and scattered homes has been the subject of a war between the developers and conservationists for years. I am spending a year painting at least once a month a scene in the valley, either en plein air (on location), or studio paintings. You can read about my first painting in this year long quest here, and a video here.

We have had an unusual number of storms coming through the San Francisco Bay area the last week or so. For the second Coyote Valley painting, I decided to make it as much about the sky as the valley.

The painting is a barn along Kalana Avenue, a short street just over a mile long in the valley. I started this piece en plein air (on location), but finished it in the studio…probably about 70-30. I took a little artists license and moved some trees around, shortened the barn, but overall it’s about what it looked like.

Below are a few shots of the day.


Stay tuned for more. I still have to report on the Carmel Art Festival with some great drone video along the California coast!

Wild Hokkaido

Shimadomarigyo Harbor
Shimadomarigyo Harbor. 8×10, acrylic on canvas

Hokkaido is the northernmost, second largest, and least developed of Japan’s four main islands. The winters are harsh with lots of snowfall, below zero temperatures and frozen seas, while in summer it does not get as hot and humid as in the other parts of Japan.  With unspoiled nature, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers, including skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons. Hikers, cyclists, and campers come during summer and fall.  It is considered to have some of the best snow powder in the world.

I just returned from a couple weeks in Japan visiting my son, who recently moved to Sapporo, the capital and largest city in Hokkaido.  After 5 years living in SW rural Japan, he wanted a change of scenery so moved to northern Japan and one of the snowiest metropolis’s in the world. Sapporo hosted the first ever Olympics in Asia, the 1972 Winter games.  

Sapporo
Sapporo


I won’t turn this weblog entry into a travelogue (More photos can be found on my Facebook Page,) but I did have a chance to do some painting.  We spent a lot of time doing the normal tourist things, and it was a little rainy and cloudy off and on our entire visit.  I normally paint in oils while at home, but as usual, I brought my acrylic travel kit which is much easier to handle on international trips.  BTW, in case you missed it, some time ago, Plein Air Magazine published an article about my traveling with acrylic paints, you can see here.

Soon after we arrived, we realized it would be raining in a few days, so we took advantage of the sunshine, rented a car, and drove around the Hokkaido countryside for a couple days.  Our first daytrip was south of Sapporo where we enjoyed rural Hokkaido and visited a couple lakes.  The lakes in this area are all caldera lakes, that is, they are ancient volcanos. 

The first was Lake Shikotsu-ku  We spent some time at the visitors center (we were in a national park), and I did a quick 90 minute study, plus a drone flight.  The lake is very reminiscent of Lake Tahoe, except without all the boulders along the shore.  

We then went on to Lake Toya, which was just as pretty, but it was getting late in the day, so flew the drone, and then headed home.


The next day, Justin and I headed to the Shakotan coastal area.  What a spectacular coastline!   It is much like the coastal areas of California, but with little Japanese fishing villages scattered throughout.  We drove to the fishing village of Shakotan, had lunch, and then backtracked to a place I had spotted on our drive there to paint. 

Shimadomarigyo Harbor is a small fishing harbor along the coast with a view of Candle Rock, an unusual natural monolith.  It was a beautiful view, but the winds were around 20mph with gusts up to 40.  Even my tubes of paint were being blown away.  I moved to a boat shed to get out of the wind, but it was still too much to handle, so I made a quick study to finish the painting later.

The final painting is at the top of this weblog entry.  Here are a few shots of the area…

I was disappointed the strong winds prevented me from flying my drone and capturing this amazing place from above, so this area is definitely on my list for the next visit!


There doesn’t seem to be as many temples and shrines in Hokkaido as in other parts of Japan.  My assumption is this is because Hokkaido was the last area where the Japanese people populated.  Prior to that, the Ainu indigenous people inhabited the area. 

However, there was a little Buddhist shrine a few blocks from Justin’s apartment, called Nantoku Shrine, so I spent a few hours painting it.

The shrine in the painting looks a little askew, so will correct that when I have time.


One of the largest parks in Sapporo, Nakajima Park, is within walking distance of Justin’s apartment, and it was still Sakura (cherry blossom time), so I painted there twice.

The next day was still nice, so I went back to the same place and did another painting facing a different way.

 


Overall it was a wonderful journey and we saw new parts of Japan.  I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to fly my drone more, but when we were at places where it is allowed, the weather didn’t cooperate. 

More photos can be found on my Facebook Page, and I’ll be making a short video in the next week or two, so stay tuned.

Up next week is the Carmel Art Festival, so stay double tuned!!

 

The Coyote War

Trail to Coyote Valley, 8x16, oil on board
Trail to Coyote Valley, 8×16, oil on board

The war rages on.

Coyote Valley, just south of San Jose, CA, has been the object of a decades long war between the developers and the conservationists.  It is the last vestige of what Santa Clara Valley used to be called, “The Valley of Hearts Delight’, now dubbed Silicon Valley.   Measuring 7×2 miles, it is an expanse of orchards, farmlands, and homes, which has been targeted for urban development since the early 60’s amongst much controversy.  Numerous organizations are fighting back to preserve this last remaining undeveloped valley floor in the San Francisco Bay area.  

Thousands of commuters pass it everyday on their way to and from bedroom communities such as San Martin, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy. During the Cold War, IBM built a facility here, presumably to be out of nuclear strike zones.  It is also a critical open space buffer between south San Jose, and the next town south, Morgan Hill, as a wildlife corridor.   Tule elk, puma, coyote, bobcat, badgers and other animals use it as safe passage.

I am beginning a new quest of spending a year painting the valley.  Perhaps I should call this a mini-quest, as it will not be nearly as ambitious as my “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” I did some years ago.  The last quest was more about the past, but this one is about the future.   Not to be too cliche, but I am painting it “before it’s gone”.

I have painted in the valley numerous times, including several for “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”.    I plan on doing about one painting a month over the next year, resulting in at least a dozen or so paintings, including both plein air and larger studio works.  I also will vary the size, unlike the strict 8×10 size during the creeks quest.  There really isn’t much in the way of seasons, but the grass in the surrounding hills goes from emerald green to a golden savanna beige and back to green as we progress through the year.

My first painting is a plein air (painted on location) piece shown above, painted in the Coyote Valley Open Preserve on the west side of the valley.  I wanted to start in the spring when the wildflowers were in full bloom.  There weren’t any wildflowers at the exact spot I painted, but used a little artists license to put them in.  Greens are one of the hardest colors for artists, especially the subtle value and color shifts when there is a lot of green in the painting, so I hope I did it justice.

I am working on a short video which will be out in a couple days.  In the meantime, here’s a few pictures from the day—

For further reading —

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_Valley,_California

https://www.openspaceauthority.org/visitors/preserves/coyotevalley.html

http://www.discovercoyotevalley.org

https://protectcoyotevalley.org

Adventures in Fairyland

2019YRHw


Watch this:


Once again, I was honored to have a painting in the Yosemite Renaissance Exhibition. This juried art show opens at the Yosemite Museum, and then travels around California for a year.  The show also starts around the time of year for the annual Firefall event in Yosemite Valley, and I don’t need much of an excuse to visit!

The opening reception was Friday, February 22 this year, so I arrived a day early, Thursday afternoon.  Lodging prices in Yosemite were quite high for winter season (possibly because the Firefall is getting ever more popular), so for the first time, I elected to stay outside the park in El Portal, which is right at the entrance. 

After checking into my motel, I headed into the park.  A series of recent snowstorms had hit the area, and it was like driving around in a winter fairyland.  I wouldn’t have much time to paint, so just drove around for a few pictures, then headed to the Firefall.  I won’t go into that experience  here, as I posted a weblog entry you can read here.  If you haven’t seen my short Firefall video, you should watch it:


I won’t go into detail on my visit, but it was very cold, barely getting above freezing most days, so my painting activities were a bit limited.  Plus, with all the recent heavy snow, many pullouts and parking lots were unavailable, and those available quickly taken up by the unusually large winter crowds.  


Here are a few pictures from the trip.  Click on the thumbnails to get a larger picture and description.

Yosemite Renaissance 34 will be on display at the Yosemite Museum from February 23rd through May 5th, 2019.  The Museum Gallery is open daily 10 am to Noon, and 1 pm to 4 pm. The 2019 Traveling Exhibit will be displayed at the following venues. We will confirm specific dates and times as they become available.

Kings Art Center, Hanford, CA. (June through July)

Carnegie Art Center, Turlock, CA. (August through October)

Gallery 5 at Gallery Row, Oakhurst, CA (October through November)

Out with the old…

For friends who have visited, they know I don’t have a great, large, wonderous studio in which to create great artworks.  Actually, I never have, and its not really necessary to produce good art.  One of my favorite paintings is this one from around 1981, painted entirely at night in a small motorhome with just a  dim 1/4 watt 12v light bulb overhead.

whitehousew

The short story is, I used to paint in an empty bedroom, until I got married, and shortly thereafter became a nursery for my newborn son.  Around that time, I sold about $7K of paintings to a local company for their new building.  That money was enough to turn one of my three car garage stalls into a studio.  We installed a wall,  skylight, and other items.  It eventually turned into a general workroom and storage area, but still my studio.

I have been cleaning out the studio this week and going through old paintings.  Many artists periodically purge old paintings, whether finished, abandoned, etc. and I do every once in awhile.  Artists, even famous ones, will also paint over an old painting.   I generally don’t like to paint over an old canvas, but most of my small paintings are on canvas board, and lately I just scrape it down, and paint right over it.   The old paint can also give a nice texture to what I paint over it.  

After sorting thru everything, I now have over 250 canvas boards, worth probably $2K, to paint over which will last quite awhile!  

IMG_8261w

 

Devil’s Slide

We have had a pretty wet last couple of weeks, but during a break between storms, I headed out to Half Moon Bay to meet with an old college days friend for lunch.  Of course, I have to make it a day with some painting and droning along the way!

After waiting for rush hour traffic to die down, took off for the hours drive to Half Moon Bay.  By the time I arrived, it was only about an hour before lunch, so explored a bit, took pictures, and a couple drone flights.

After a long lunch, I headed up the coast to an area called Devil’s Slide.  Recently, Caltrans built a tunnel bypassing the slide area, but the last turnout allows walking access to the old road, so decided to do a painting right there.  By that time I only had a couple hours to paint before the parking lot closed.

I didn’t really get a finished painting as I was enjoying the scenery as much as working.  I am still trying to decide if I should finish the painting in the studio, or start a new one sometime in the future.

Below are a few pictures of the day.  Click on the thumbnail for a larger view.

 

There was no droning allowed right there, so I drove back down the coast and took some arial shots.  Enjoy this short video above the beautiful California Coast entitled “Coastal Soothe“…

 

If you saw my last post, FOAM, most of that was videoed during the visit.

Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned for more developments!

Foam

I was painting along the California coast yesterday, and of course, flying my drone.  I stayed until sunset and captured some amazing aerial shots around Half Moon Bay, and north towards Pacifica at the Devils Slide area and the new tunnels.  It inspired me to throw together this more artsy video which includes shots from yesterday, and others from the past year.  I think it is my favorite drone video so far…

 

I recorded other amazing video while painting, so stay tuned for more spectacular viewing, and maybe a painting!

Al-Khazneh

 

Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), 8x10, oil on panel
Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), 8×10, oil on panel

Many of you know I did a tour of Israel and Jordan last October. We had the fortune of visiting Petra, Jordan, a world heritage site and while there did a painting of one of the iconic buildings cut into the rock called Al-Khazneh (The Treasury).  I won’t go into all that here, but you can read about it and the pesky donkey in my weblog entry here.

I was asked several times, both at Petra, and others who saw the painting online if it was for sale.  I don’t sell my sketches I do on trips such as this, so one long time friend asked me to do a commission, exactly the same as the plein air I did on site.  The first one  was painted in acrylics, but the commission piece in oil, shown above.  They turned out very similar.