monterey bay

Moon Over Monterey

Moon Over Monterey, 18×24, oil on canvas, available.

Founded on June 3, 1770, Monterey is one of the oldest cities in California.  Once an abundant fishery, it also attracts writers, painters, and other artists.  Now a tourist destination with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and Fisherman’s Wharf, it also hosts the California Roots Music and Arts Festival, and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.

Fresh off the easel at the Neff Studio, from Del Monte Beach, the moon and downtown Monterey light up the dusk sky overlooking Monterey Bay.

Monterey Dunes

Monterey Dunes, 16×20, oil on canvas

We frequently walk by this scene along the trails of Ft Ord Dunes State Park near our home in Marina, CA, and I have talked about it numerous times.  I have painted this immediate area several times, but from an entirely different viewpoint several yards away.  You can see those here and here.  The other day as we embarked on our walk, the sun was hitting the dunes at just the right angle to illuminate the scene, and I determined it just had to be painted.  Fresh off the easel, here is Monterey Dunes.

Marina Beach Sunset

Marina Beach Sunset, 12×16, oil on panel

The large wall of dunes stretches for over 13 miles on the southeastern side of Monterey Bay.  They are the highest found on the Central Coast, and provide a habitat for birds and animals rarely seen elsewhere, like a living fabric interwoven with a diversity of strands of life. This strip of land is steadily changing from wind and wave forces but provides a barrier for the inland areas.  

Right in the middle, the dunes divide to Marina State Beach with an easily accessible sandy beach and steady winds that make it a popular place for kite flying and para gliding.  Year ’round you’re likely to see dolphins playing in the waves, plus sail and fishing boats from Monterey and Moss Landing.  Sunsets at Marina State Beach are a daily community event, bringing out locals and visitors alike.

Although we now live close to the dunes, the study for this painting was a photo I took some years back during one of my participations in the Carmel Art Festival.  

A couple years ago I did a small painting of this, but wanted to do a larger one.  Enjoy this new painting from the Neff Studio.

Next up, look for a short drone video…

Remember Roy

Roy’s Beach, 12×24, oil on gallery wrap canvas

I never met Roy.  But from now on, will certainly remember him.  

One of the greatest satisfactions an artist can have is when a painting has extra special meaning to the collector.  Besides just being a nice scenic painting to hang on a wall, if the place has some special significance to the purchaser, it also means something to the artist.

Last February I painted a scene of Ft Ord Dunes State Beach.  We frequently walk among the dunes near our new home in Marina, CA, and we always pass by the scene.  The late afternoon sun on Monterey Bay and the beach are just stunning. The painting sold almost immediately online.   You can read about it here.

During my Open Studio event last October, Allen Crane, a lifelong resident of Marina, stopped by and told me he really wanted that painting, but it sold so fast he missed his chance to purchase it.   I told him I could do a commission piece similar to the painting, although I wouldn’t paint the exact same thing. We settled on making it more of a sunset scene. 

He then told me the story of why he wanted the painting…well, I’ll let him tell you in is own words:

Roy and Allen Crane first moved to Marina in the fall of 1964 after their father, Donald, retired from the US Army. Roy absolutely loved walking, very briskly, on the beach – Ft Ord Dunes State Beach was his favorite starting point for his daily walks. He always had a sighting to share – of whales, or porpoises, of the squid boats or flocks of pelicans following the curve of the waves. Nobody else seemed to see as much activity on the waves as Roy did, then again, not everyone walked for miles, daily, on the beach either. Roy passed away in his sleep at his childhood home in Marina, on Sept.22, 2020. A few days later, Allen held a memorial for his brother on this beach (he calls it Roy’s Beach) attended by friends and neighbors from all over Northern California.

Allen Crane

During the painting of this commission, and many times before and after, we walk by the very same scene, and we see the porpoises, squid boats, and pelicans just like Roy and Allen had for so many decades.  It’s still there, and to be enjoyed for everyone many more decades to come.  


Here’s a few photos of Roy’s Beach


Now, every time we walk there, I will…

Remember Roy.


Primary Swell

A new painting from the Neff Studio.

“Primary Swell, Marina”, 22×28, oil on canvas

We can normally hear the surf faintly in the distance two miles inland at our home inn Marina, CA, especially at night. But this was different. It sounded like distant crackling thunder as if a huge squall was hovering over Monterey Bay. The sound seemed to reverberate through the neighborhood.

Last January, Monterey Bay was experiencing unusually high surf and tides due to confluence of the moon, storms, etc. Some call it a primary swell. I went out early morning and did a little droning and video, eventually producing a short video, shown below.

This new painting is a drones eye view of the Monterey Bay coastline in Marina, CA. I extracted a still shot from the video I took that morning as my study for this piece. I was taken with this view as it shows the back of the wave and not your normal seascape. The sun is just starting to peek over the dunes and cliffs of Marina Dunes Beach illuminating the crest of the waves.

In case you missed it, here is the original video I produced back in January .

Marina Dunes Pathway

“Marina Dunes Pathway”, 16×20, oil on panel

Huge sand dunes line the southeastern side of Monterey Bay, some, I am guessing, over 60 feet high.   Created by the constant ocean and winds, the dunes form a barrier between the bay and inland areas such as the towns of Marina and Seaside, plus the fertile Salinas Valley.  The dunes are a patchwork of sand, ice-plant, grasses, and other vegetation.  Wildlife is also found here with shorebirds, raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, and a unique legless lizard.

At one time, when this was part of Fort Ord, the dunes were populated with rifle ranges, munition depots, and other military installations.  There was even an immense officers club and recreational facility overlooking the bay, which eventually fell into disrepair as the coast eroded beneath.

We frequently take walks along the coastal dunes of Monterey Bay near our new home in Marina.  This painting is a pathway to Marina Dunes Beach and Preserve.  What drew me to this scene is the late afternoon sun filtering through the trees and lighting up the colorful ice-plant.  The ocean was not visible from this viewpoint but I wanted to orient the viewer to where you are. So, I did use a little artists license, and removed some of the dunes so you could see the bay and surf.  I did this piece several months ago, but was not entirely satisfied, so dabbled on it a bit off and on.   I might dabble a bit more, but call it finished…for now.

Fort Ord Dunes

Ft Ord Dunes, 12x24, oil on canvas
Ft Ord Dunes, 12×24, oil on canvas

With sweeping views of Monterey Bay and 4 miles of beaches, Fort Ord Dunes is one of the newer California state parks.   The afternoon sun turns the foaming waves a bright silvery color, and illuminates the red, orange, yellow and green ice plant fields along the dunes. 

We have been walking the trails along this beautiful Marina coastline near our new home in Marina, CA recently and I just had to put it to canvas. 

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