Los Gatos Creek

Hot! Hot! Hot!

AKA Painting the Los Gatos Plein Air Festival

My panel at the show
My panel at the show

I was honored to once again participate in the Los Gatos Plein Air Art Festival which is sponsored by the Los Gatos Morning Rotary. It’s a plein air event where we have about 4 days to produce paintings which are then sold off Friday night and Saturday. It is also a charitable event as proceeds help local schools and art programs. This show is a little easier as it is local, and I don’t have to travel, plus have the advantage of my home studio for touch-up and framing, etc.



Cowell, 16x8, oil on panel, plein air
Cowell, 16×8, oil on panel, plein air

After getting my canvases stamped, I headed to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I had done a redwood scene for the recent Carmel Show, and it turned out well, so I thought I would do one for this show. I love the backlit giant redwoods with light filtering and spotlighting the colorful trunks. I ended up painting in the exact same spot I had many years ago, however did an entirely different scene and canvas orientation. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

After finishing up, I still had time to make Hakone Gardens in Saratoga before it closes at 5. I had been doing a Japan studio series, so wanted to put in a Japanese like painting in the show. I also wanted to make it a continuation of my recent vertical water series. Another painter buddy in the show, Mark Monsarrat was there. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

Hakone Pals, 24x12,oil on canvas
Hakone Pals, 24×12,oil on canvas



The Old Swing, 8x10, oil on panel
The Old Swing, 8×10, oil on panel

Wednesday morning I touched up the prior days paintings, then headed out to Penitencia Creek to a spot I had painted for The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley year long quest a few years ago. The place had totally changed in the last three years! Besides felling some trees, the creek was different, probably because of the record wet winter we just had. The scene I had painted was no longer there! The creek was still there, of course, and flowing well after our wet winter. I did find another spot just up the creek which satisfied my tastes. There was also an old swing, somewhat of a trapeze, which made for a good story. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—


Silicon Valley View, 12x16, oil on panel
Silicon Valley View, 12×16, oil on panel

That evening I went up the hill behind the house and did a nocturne of downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley. I had painted a sunset at this location not too long ago, and it is just high enough to see all the way across the Santa Clara Valley. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—



Vasona, 11x14, oil on panel
Vasona, 11×14, oil on panel

Thursday morning I touched up the prior days paintings and then headed back to Los Gatos for a luncheon the Rotary was putting on for the artists. The Rotary always treats us artists well, with receptions, lunches, and plenty of wine! Later in the afternoon, I went to Vasona Park to do the final painting for the show. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—



Friday morning was touchup and framing time. The empty spot in the lower left of the Hakone painting bugged me a bit, and there were a lot of turtles in the pond, and I wanted more koi…then the thought struck to combine them and re-title the painting. I put the turtle and koi eyeing each other as pals in the pond. Their shadow on the bottom of the pond also gave the water a look of more depth.

My wife also suggested I add some ducks to the Vasona painting, so I put in a Canada Goose, and some goslings, which were all over the place while I was painting.

Ready to hang!
Ready to hang!

Friday evening was a VIP Gala in Los Gatos, so I headed over about mid afternoon to try to beat the Friday rush hour(s). We had to put up our one ‘best’ painting for the event, so I chose the Hakone piece. The gala was at the Los Gatos Hotel. It was outside, and hot, but still had a great time relaxing and chatting with the other artists and collectors. They had a delicious buffet and Hors d’oeuvre, plus plenty of wine! (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—



Today was the main event where all paintings are put up for sale to the public in downtown Los Gatos at the Town Plaza Park. Crowds seemed a little lighter than past years, probably due to the heat wave. Besides discouraging people to come outside to the park, many in our valley head to the coast clogging up traffic going through Los Gatos. I did sell two paintings, however, so I was pleased about that! (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—


All-in-all, the Rotary once again put on a wonderful show, and a great big thanks to them for their work!

Some photos courtesy Ron Lykins.

Los Gatos Plein Air 2015

I have been participating in the Los Gatos Plein Air almost every year since it’s inception. Since it is close to my house, I can stay home and paint the local area without worrying about all the travel expense and time.

During plein air competitions, artists have several days to paint and present for sale finished and framed paintings. The festival coordinators stamp the back of the canvas to ensure all work is done in the days allotted. We had our panels stamped on Tuesday morning, and had until Friday afternoon to produce the paintings.

I already posted some of these on Facebook, but for those who are not on social media, here are a few pictures from the show. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger picture Note: Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

After getting my canvas stamped, I headed out to Guadalupe Creek to paint a California Sycamore as I had been doing a series of these—

The next morning, it was out to Metcalf Road about 10 miles from my house. I drove around a bit and settled on this scene—

After lunch, I drove over to McKean road, south of San Jose, and after a little exploring decided to do a vista of Almaden Valley. I almost had to talk myself in tackling this painting as there is quite a bit to paint in a short time for a competition.

I only got about half way through the painting, so called it a day and would return tomorrow afternoon to finish it.

I was up early for the drive over to Almaden Reservoir. I had checked it on Tuesday, and even in this drought, it was close to full.

The Los Gatos Rotary Association was putting on a lunch for the artists, so I drove into Los Gatos, and had a pleasant meal with some of the other artists. I then headed to Los Gatos Creek. I knew in the hot midday it would be shady and cool…just right for a creek painting!

It was then back to McKean and Country View Dr to finish the Almaden Valley vista painting.

I spent in touchup and framing. That evening was a ticketed reception, and I sold the California Sycamore painting.

The next day was the main sale day to the public. I sold all but one of the five painted for the show.

My panel at the show.
My panel at the show.

Below are the five paintings I did for the show–

ThirtyNine: Beaver Sign!

Continuing the “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” year long quest.

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California Golden Beaver
California Golden Beaver

Thar’s beaver in that thar valley! so the pioneer mountain men used to say. Yes, there are wild beaver right downtown San Jose, the “Capital of Silicon Valley”. First discovered in March 2013 by Roger Castillo, who I wrote about in Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar, the downtown San Jose area is now locally called Beavertown.

The beaver is the largest rodent in North America and the second or third largest rodent in the world. Castor Canadensis Subauratus, or the California Golden Beaver was last seen in this area 150 years ago. The beavers are believed to have originated from the Lexington Reservoir above Los Gatos, where they were re-introduced in the early 1990s.

Turns out now they are all over the Guadalupe Watershed. Multiple families of beavers are living from Lexington Reservoir down to Alviso, which I painted in ThirtyThree: Sin City, This includes Los Gatos Creek painted in Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves and Fourteen: The Los Gatos Stream; and the Guadalupe River painted in Two, Three: Woz Way, Six: The Downtown Sticks, and Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar. They have not yet built any dams as much of the habitat has deep enough pools for their purposes. However, during this drought, they are being watched as the water reaches low levels.

Last summer a beaver was seen injured from trash in the river which wrapped around it’s body. It was captured, the trash removed, and returned to the wild.

There are some videos of the beaver you can watch here and here, plus some of the above links have more pictures and videos. BTW, the picture above of the beaver is not one of those in San Jose.

Here are some pictures of the day. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

I did the painting where the first beaver sign was discovered, right downtown San Jose in Guadalupe Park, next to SAP Arena where all the big venues in the area are held. This area is also locally called the confluence, as it is where the Los Gatos Creek joins the Guadalupe River. The beaver sign was still there, although it looked like it had been awhile since there was any gnawing on the trees. Of course I didn’t see any as they mainly come out at night. I did use a little artistic license and painted a beaver “V” in the water as if one was swimming by. I also indicated a downtown building in the background, and one of the concrete river channel walls.

Beaver Sign, 8x10, oil on board
Beaver Sign, 8×10, oil on board

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.

Twenty: The Trestle Charity

Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long project. (Click here for complete info.)

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Willow Glen Trestle
Willow Glen Trestle

1921 was the year the trestle was built. In it’s day the rails carried cargo wrapping around the southern end of San Jose and up over the trestle I painted in number Seventeen: The Eggo Team.

Although the railroad tracks are long gone, it has stood the test of time until recently when the San Jose city council voted to tear it down and put in a new steel trail bridge for the Lost Gatos trail system. Citizens rose up and are demanding the trestle be kept and restored. I agree. The 90 year old trestle is solid, and the Friends of the Willow Glen Trust have now sued the city to stop it’s destruction. You can find some local reports and opinions here, and here. They also have some Facebook pages here, and here. There is a charity event coming up on February 22.

For the last year or so I have wanted to paint the trestle, and figured I better do it now if it is torn down. So here is number twenty in my Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley. I visited the site about a year ago, and along the creek, it was pretty junky, with a few homeless encampments nearby. This is only a few miles from “The Jungle”, the largest homeless camp in the US. I’ll save commentary on that for another day. Today, most of the junk was gone right around the trestle I think from volunteers cleaning the area up.

A few pictures. You can now click on a thumbnail, then scroll directly from picture to picture—

Here’s the painting–

The Trestle Charity, 8x10, oil on board
The Trestle Charity, 8×10, oil on board

For better effect, I took out about half of the pylons, otherwise it would have looked like a jumbled mess. This is the only painting I did not complete entirely on site. With some of the noise coming from the homeless camps, I felt a little unsafe being there all alone, so finished about half of it in the studio. My heart goes out to the truly homeless, but many are drug addicts or other problems, and the camps can be dangerous places.

Oh, almost forgot…that’s Los Gatos Creek!

Click this link for a map of all painting locations.

Addendum. Oops…forgot to mention the Save the Trestle website here.

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