San Juan Cemetery

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“San Juan Cemetery”, 16×20, oil on board

And now for something totally different.

Mission San Juan Bautista is a Spanish mission in the small town of San Juan Bautista, California. Founded in 1797, the mission was the fifteenth of the Spanish missions established in present-day California. Named for Saint John the Baptist, the mission has served mass daily since 1797, and today functions as a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey.

I have painted the mission a number of times, usually with a group of fellow plein air painters. During one visit, I wandered back behind the mission and found an old graveyard adjacent to the structure. The cemetery holds the remains of over 4,000 Christian Native Americans and Europeans in thousands of unmarked graves who have died over the centuries. It’s not my usual subject matter, but the pattern of old weathered walls along with the eerie foggy mist had an intriguing abstract pattern, so I later did a studio painting of it.  
From the “Studio Ndebe Iche”.

El Camino

Since April 2020 I have posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts.

El Camino, 16×20, oil on board

Historic California is the subject for today’s offering from the studio stockade. This is a plein air painting I did of the Mission San Juan Bautista. You might recognize it if you ever watched the Hitchcock film ‘Vertigo.’ The path is El Camino Real, the road built by the early Spanish missionaries to connect their missions. It is one of the few places you can see the original dirt avenue. It also happens to be the San Andreas Fault Line!

Above the Mission

So, the plan was to join the Los Gatos group at the weekly paint-out, this time at San Juan Bautista Mission, CA. The mission is one of 21 religious outposts established by the Spanish, and this one was finished in 1812. I have painted there a number of times, and generally paint the mission itself.

Once again, I wanted to capture the artists painting from above with my DJI Mavic Pro drone. I checked beforehand and there were no drone restrictions in San Juan Bautista. California State parks are generally have no drone restrictions, but some restrict depending on the county, district, or park.

Upon arrival, my iPhone was on low battery. I had it on charge all night, but for some reason didn’t charge. An iPhone or other mobile device is not absolutely necessary to fly the drone, but it sure helps, and you are somewhat flying blind without it. I had no good way of charging it without running my car engine for awhile, so decided to limit my flying time. I also didn’t want to disturb the peace and quiet around the mission in the clear crisp morning, and kept to a fairly high altitude. The sound of the drone did carry much further in the cool morning air.

Here is a short video “Above San Juan Bautista‘…

…and a few photos of the day….

Since I probably wouldn’t have a lot of time to paint, I decided to just do a simple study of the corner porch/entrance of the mission, probably little over an hour of painting time. Here is the painting…

I think I will just leave this as a color and value study.