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!!

 

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!

A Year’s Drone Journey

WOW! What a year has it been!

I purchased a DJI Mavic Pro drone about a year ago and having a blast ever since!  The Mavic is a ‘prosumer’ level drone, that is, marketed to consumers but has many professional level features.

I originally hadn’t considered doing much painting from it, but can’t resist doing some.  First, enjoy the very best video segments of a year droning all over the beautiful California coast, painting with art groups, the high Sierras, deep blue Lake Tahoe, spectacular Big Sur, quaint Carmel, Horse Shoe Bend AZ, Springdale (Zion), and maybe a few biker shots!

Some of my first flights was to do “The World’s First Plein Air Drone Selfie” you can read about here.

First Drone Selfie, 12x16, oil on board

Later on, I couldn’t resist doing another painting which I took from a video frame captured above Davenport, CA.  titled “176′ Above Davenport” you can read about here.

176' Above Davenport, 24x36, oil on canvas
176′ Above Davenport, 24×36, oil on canvas

I am planning on doing more drone based paintings in 2019, so stay tuned!

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

 

176′ Above Davenport

176' Above Davenport, 24x36, oil on canvas
176′ Above Davenport, 24×36, oil on canvas

As the summer morning fog clears along the California coast, many times the crashing waves, spray, wind, and lingering fog create an ethereal atmosphere of a misty soft landscape, or should I say seascape. I live within an hours drive of the coast, and visit often to paint, camp, and ride my Harley.

I was recently painting with the California Art Club along the coast near Davenport CA and produced a short video, you can see here–

and also a weblog entry you can see here.

Many of you know I purchased a drone earlier this year. I bought it mainly for fun and to give a different perspective to my painting, motorcycle, and other adventures. Although my main intent was not to do paintings from a drone’s perspective, I did do a plein air drone selfie you can read about here.

Reviewing the drone footage around Davenport, however, I couldn’t resist painting a scene far above the coast. The video frame I painted from is at about 0:47 on the above video. I wanted to create an atmosphere of morning mist still lingering around the coast and the sun starting to highlight parts of the coastal bluffs. I did sharpen and saturate the colors a bit from the video, and highlighted parts of the cliff more. Here is the frame I extracted and enhanced in Photoshop as my study:

Above Davenport study photo
Above Davenport study photo

As you can see, I painted it pretty much ‘as-is’. In the distance is the coastal hamlet of Davenport, about ten miles north of Santa Cruz. The drone was 176 feet above the bluff, so probably 250 feet above the ocean.

Perhaps I’ll look at my drone videos again, and maybe produce a drone painting series?!? Stay tuned!

More Paintin’ N Dronin’

First, enjoy this short video of spectacular aerial shots of the California coast–

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The California Art Club was having a paintout near Davenport, CA, so I decided to join again with my drone. The last paintout I did a video you can find here.

It was a nice sunny day, and I set up my easel across Highway 1 from the coastal hamlet of Davenport. There were a few fellow artists scattered around the area. Later, I drove a few miles up the coast to Davenport Landing, and found most of the artists were painting there.

I wasn’t intent on painting a masterpiece, but more a quick value study in the morning light. I probably spent more time flying the drone than painting, just enjoying the day. Below is the painting on my easel, maybe an hours work…a poor picture as I was photographing into direct sunlight.

Davenport Beach, 8x16, oil on panel, plein air
Davenport Beach, 8×16, oil on panel, plein air

This Year Was Different

AKA Dronin’ the Festival

This year was different. For the thirteenth year, I participated in the Carmel Art Festival. But this year, I have a drone. So I produced a short video of the spectacular California coast around the Carmel/Big Sur area while I was painting. It is one of the spectacular coastlines in the world. First, enjoy this short video “Dronin’ the Festival”…



In plein air competitions such as this, you have several days to paint at least two paintings, which are then auctioned off. The festival coordinators stamp the back of the canvas to ensure all work is done in the two days allotted. I won’t go into a detailed diary of the week like I have in past weblogs, but just a synopsis and a few pictures below, some of which are also in the video.

Wednesday evening, after having my canvases stamped, I headed to Perkins Park in Pacific Grove to start a painting of the sunset. I only had enough time to block in the major areas before the sun went down.

At the crack of dawn Thursday, I headed down the coast to Garrapata State Park, one of my favorite places to paint. I decided to do another Vertical Water scene, a bit like the one which won an award last year. The morning sun was lighting up Point Sur many miles down the coast and made for an interesting composition.

Then, in the afternoon, I went up nearby Palo Colorado Road and painted the redwoods. It was nice to get out of the wind along the coast and hug a tree for the afternoon (at lease figuratively!).

Friday morning, an old friend, Scott Loftesness visited, and I did a small piece in Perkins Park again. It was a cloudy day with a little drizzle, but the sun was hitting some spots in Monterey Bay which gave the painting more interest.

That afternoon I spent touching up, and framing the four paintings.

I sold two at the festival…not the best year, but good enough! Click on the thumbnails to see the title and size of each painting.

An Afternoon at Ohlone

Quiet Cove, Garrapata, 12x16, oil on board
Quiet Cove, Garrapata, 12×16, oil on board

Perhaps I should have confessed it up front to Elizabeth, but I had had never been in an art classroom in an institution of higher learning. I have been in art classrooms at art schools, but never a college or university. Being primarily self taught the last 45 years of painting, my art comes from what I love. The only ‘formal’ instruction I have had is various workshops from artists I admire the last 15 years.

Elizabeth Blau, an art instructor at Ohlone College in Fremont saw me on a TV segment NBC Bay Area (you can watch it here if you missed it), so invited me to her painting and drawing class to talk about “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”, and a painting demo.

It was a class of about 10 students, all pursuing different disciplines. After a short talk about “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”, we launched into a demonstration painting. I chose a seascape in Garrapata State Park for my study. I really enjoyed the intimate setting where students scooted up right around my easel to watch me paint.

Here are some photos during my demo, some courtesy of Elizabeth. (Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions)–

Here is the painting about where I left it in class…

The painting about where I left it in class.
The painting about where I left it in class.

I touched up the painting a bit after returning to my studio which can be seen at the top of this weblog entry.

California Art Clubbing

The California Art Club sponsored a paintout at Pescadero Beach last Saturday, March 10, 2018. The weather for Saturday looked iffy all week, but in the end, although it turned out to be a grey, somewhat gloomy day, all we got were just a few sprinkles.

I spent more time socializing with artist friends, and videoing more than painting. I did start a another vertical water scene, but didn’t get very far along. I’ll call it a value study in greys.


Here’s a few pictures…


Now, enjoy this short video of the day, and some scenes along the beautiful California coast.

Pigeon is the Point

One of the prominent man made features on the San Mateo Coast of California, along the Pacific Ocean, is the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Built in 1871, it is the tallest lighthouse on the western coast of the United States. It is still used for Coast Guard navigation, and a small overnight hostel is now housed in the old light keeper’s housing.

I was recently out painting the Worlds First Plein Air Drone Selfie at the lighthouse which you can read about and see a video on this link. While there, I also photographed some studies for future reference to do a studio painting. I decided to continue my Vertical Water Series and this is the 15th painting in the collection. You can see the others here.

 Pigeon Point Lighthouse, 24x12,oil on canvas
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, 24×12,oil on canvas

If you missed it last time around, enjoy this short video while painting on location, including some spectacular scenes of the California coast—

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