FortyTwo: First Swimming Pool


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long quest.

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the sidebar


First Swimming Pool, 8x10, oil on board
First Swimming Pool, 8×10, oil on board

For centuries the native Ohlone people met in the hills west of what is now South San Jose every fall. One time when all the clans came together, tribal elders were concerned about a mysterious illness that was killing the people painfully in epidemic proportions.

While they met, a breeze blew up, and great storm clouds gathered. The sky rumbled, and lightning flashed when suddenly a beautiful woman dressed in black robes floated to earth out of the storm clouds. She calmly spoke to each of them that the great chief should pick up his bow and shoot an arrow high into the sky. Where the arrow would fall, the chiefs would find the solution to their problem.

The great chief did so while all the chiefs watched as the arrow glided to a landing on a larger boulder on the hillside. The boulder shattered in half, and out of it’s base flowed a bubbling fresh-water spring. The chiefs gathered the water and shared the water with everyone. The illness subsided, and the Ohlone once again became healthy.

So goes the legend. You can read a longer version here.

Years later, Jose Joaqui­n Bernal, a member of the 1776 De Anza Expedition, retired here in 1826, and he settled his family of eleven children near the spring. Joaquin Bernal was a Catholic who believed the Black Robed Lady to be Saint Teresa, so named his rancho and the spring after her. Santa Teresa Spring was thought to have healing powers, and the Bernal family later created a 35,000 gallon reservoir for their farming operations and also bottled and sold the water. This reservoir is noted as the first man made swimming pool in Santa Clara Valley.

Buildings from the old homestead are still there, now preserved in Santa Theresa County Park. You can read more here, and here.

Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

I was really undecided on how to paint this. Initially, it was going to be a regular painting of the pond, but when checking it out prior to painting day, there was a family of turtles basking on a log in the middle. Then a closeup of the turtles seemed appealing as I want to include more wildlife in this quest. We also were close to a new moon, which was rising just before sunset, so then thought about doing a moon semi-nocturne tonal piece.

When I arrived to paint late in the day, the light on the bank of the pond was just glowing, so painted a bit of all three. You can see the three turtles silhouetted on the log in the foreground. The moon was up just over the eastern hills as depicted, but hidden a little to the right. So, I guess this painting is about a lot of things, which bends one of the ‘rules’ of painting plein air, which is to make your painting about one thing! However, the first rule of plein air, is you can break the rules!

BTW, the spring empties into Canoas Creek, so I am marking that as the creek painted.


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.
Click on this link for a Pinterest catalog of all paintings so far.


***Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

2 thoughts on “FortyTwo: First Swimming Pool”

  1. Nice strong color. I would like to visit this site to paint. How far is the treck to the pool and is it hard or easy to access ? I’m in my 60’s and have cantankerous knees.

Leave a Reply