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!
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 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 adim 1/4 watt 12v light bulb overhead.
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!
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.
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!
About the show, I have entered from time to time, including winning an award at their inaugural event 34 years ago. The best part is having a painting hanging in the Yosemite Museum for a number of months! It’s also a good excuse to visit the valley…as if I ever need one!
The show is very eclectic with photography, sculpture, and paintings from traditional to modern interpretations. Yosemite Renaissance 34 will open February 22, 2019 and will run to May 5, 2019. The exhibit will then travel to several other California art centers.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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…
I touched up the painting a bit after returning to my studio which can be seen at the top of this weblog entry.
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.