Prepping for the Carmel Art Festival

The Carmel Plein Air show is next week, so I decided to take a trip there to paint and look for places to paint. When you do a plein air show, preparation is key. When you have two days to come up with two great paintings, you better have a plan! I usually plan 3-4 works to do, and then decide which ones to actually paint based on the weather at the time. This time of year, Carmel weather is very unpredictable. It can be sunny one moment, shrouded in fog the next, and maybe even start raining.

The night before, the forecast for the Carmel area was morning fog clearing during the day. It was clear in San Jose when I took off on the Harley around 6:30 AM. I wanted to be at Point Lobos State Preserve when it opened at 9:00. When I got within 10 miles of the ocean, the fog was just thick as can be. Driving through Carmel, and down the Big Sur coastline, it was the same. I stopped at Pt Lobos for about an hour, took a short hike, and the fog was still thick. So, I decided to head back to Carmel, have some breakfast and see if the fog would lift. It didn’t.


Along the North Shore Trail at Point Lobos

Time to go gallery hopping in Carmel!! I visited a number of my favorite galleries, and during that time, walked into an unfamiliar gallery which I found out had been open for about 6 months. One thing led to another, it it looks fairly certain I will start showing my work there very soon. I won’t mention the gallery name, or when my works might be on display until we get things settled.

The fog was starting to lift slightly, so, time to head to Big Sur. I got to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and it was nice and clear, so checked out the river, then headed back up to Pt Lobos for the second time. Still foggy! Oh well, I’ll do a painting anyway! So, I hiked the North Shore Trail a ways, and did a small 8×10.



The scene and my painting at Point Lobos.

It took me about an hour, finishing around 5:00 and the fog never lifted. I was hoping to catch a nice sunset, but it just wasn’t going to happen today. So, I loaded up the Harley and headed home. It turned out to be a drab day, but I will have to be prepared if we get two drab days when we have to paint next week for the festival.

Ray’s Ranch

Ray’s Ranch is a turn-of-the-century small ranch with barns, corrals and horses situated right in the outskirts of Los Gatos. The Los Gatos Plein Air Group was painting there, it was a beautiful day, so time to load up the Harley and head over. It is only about 30 minutes from the house, traffic across Silicon Valley (AKA Santa Clara Valley) wasn’t bad, and I arrived there about 9. There were already half a dozen painters out, and by the time noon rolled around about a dozen were busily painting. Below are a few shots of the area.


Corrals and barns.


Some of the group painting.


My first painting of one of the barns sitting on the easel.


Kevin Kasik, a new inductee into the “Motorcycle Plein Air Artists Society of America”


A quick little study of the same barn, but a little more intimate.

I took more (and probably better) pictures, but for some reason they didn’t take with my little ‘wearable’ camera.

Big Sur

We had been having spring like weather, plus it had been awhile since I had painted the Big Sur area, and taken the Harley out on a painting trip, so decided to do both today.
I left around 7:30 when the sun was just starting to peek over the hills and mountains behind the house. I love the early morning motorcycle rides when the air is cool, and the sun is dappling the landscape with color.

After passing through Monterey and Carmel, I arrived at one of my favorite painting spots, Garrapata State Park around 9:00. I had done quite a few paintings here, including the one which won “Best in Oils” last year at the Carmel Art Festival. The California marine layer, aka fog, was hanging just offshore, so I drove around for a few minutes to see where I wanted to paint first. I ended up at one of my favorite parts of Garrapata, gate 8, and started in. Below is a shot of the Harley parked alongside Hwy 1, south of Carmel.


My first painting was a 12×16 of Sobranes Point with the fog starting to drift in. As I was painting, the fog would drift in and out. The focal point of the painting, however was the foreground bluff which stayed bathed in the morning sunlight the entire time. At times, the entire point would envelope in fog. Below is a picture of my easel, plus a quick shot on the easel of the painting. It’s not a very good shot of the painting, and I will post a better one at a later date.


It was getting toward noon, so I hopped on the Harley and headed into Carmel for lunch. A restaurant I frequently stop at during trips to Carmel is Cafe Stravaganza. It is tucked in a little corner south of the main town in the Crossroads Shopping Center at the corner of Hwy 1 and Rio Road. Some years ago, a local friend who owned a store nearby said Doris Day, the famous movie star and singer, used to eat there as it is close to an animal hospital (Doris Day is an avid animal and pet activist). If you like Mediterranean food, I would recommend it. Plus it is not too pricey, at least compared to most Carmel restaurants!

After lunch, it was back down the coast to do another painting. I stopped at gate 2 in Garrapata, and found another view of Sobranes Point, except further away. The fog was really rolling in and out and covering most of the point, plus much of the ocean. I love trying to paint the moodiness of the fog and this painting became a study in gray. Once again, the focal point was a close by bluff which the sun was illuminating against the steely gray of the background fog.

Below is a shot of the painting location.


My easel while painting.


The final painting, once again a quick snapshot on the easel. I will post a better one at a later date.


I finished this painting around 3 in the afternoon. By that time, I was almost completely enveloped in fog. My back was starting to get a little sore, so I decided to call it a day. I hopped on the Harley, drove down the coast to Bixby Creek Bridge, and it was really socked in, so headed back north towards Carmel. Passing Carmel, Monterey, Castroville (the Artichoke Center of the World), then Gilroy (Garlic Capital of the World), and finally San Jose, I arrived home.

Wild Hogs


This blog is normally about art, so why would I write a note about a movie? Well, many of you know I have a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and frequently take it on plein air trips. I can never decide whether the ride there is more fun than painting while there!
Been waiting some time for the movie Wild Hogs to be released, so I snuck out and watched it this afternoon. I don’t like to build movies up and say how great they are, because when someone else overrates it, it may become disappointing. However, if you like bikes or want to see a light-hearted good comedy, go see it!

As a postscript, searching the internet, I noticed most critics are panning the movie. I think they should lighten up…it’s not an Acadamy Award wannabe…just an entertaining flick.

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