Elkhorn Slough

Located at the center of the Monterey Bay coastline, Elkhorn Slough harbors the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay. This ecological treasure provides habitat for plants, animals , and more than 340 species of birds, and is a major fish nursery for the region.

The slough is an interesting study for paintings. The tidal areas and land mass form interesting patterns of light and dark, giving the entire area an abstract look. These abstract patterns can make interesting paintings, and every time you visit it, the tide and weather form an entirely different painting.
The last time I painted this area was February of 2005 and I have wanted to come back ever since. I painted Elkhorn Slough several years ago with the Los Gatos Plein Air group. Once again, they met and painted there just last Monday. With a combination of bad back and lousy weather I decided not to go. Well, the weather looked good today, so I went.

Actually, the morning was quite foggy, but the forecast was clearing, so I left around 1 PM to catch the afternoon sun. It was about an hours drive, and when I got there, the fog was still drifting in and out with probably less than a mile of visibility. I could barely see past some of the tree lines, and the distant water was barely visible. Wonderful! I was ready to paint a more moody painting of the slough!

I knew the turnout I wanted to paint at (same as before), and could set up right there with my chair for back support. I painted probably the first hour standing, and the last hour sitting down. It took about two hours to finish the painting.

The painting I did several years ago was good (showing now at Sandy-by-the-Sea Gallery in Carmel), but the one I did today had a totally different tone, and I think I like it better…at least for the time being!



p align=”center”>Starting the painting.

A shot of my comfortable setup.


Similar shot near the end of the day.


Here is a quick shot of the painting on the easel. I will get a better shot later.

Below is the same scene I painted in 2005. It was a clearer day, and the mood quite different.

2 thoughts on “Elkhorn Slough”

  1. Funny, I think I remember seeing you out there that day. I work in the area and drive through elkhorn rd a lot. Nice painting btw. I can appreciate the effort you put towards detailing. I see a lot of paintings of the slough and wished the art had a little less abstract feel and bit more definition.

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