Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar


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

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Roger Let's Soar!, 8x10, oil on board
Roger Let’s Soar!, 8×10, oil on board

I had been planning this painting location for quite some time and this is the original lead in to this weblog entry which I was just about to publish…

What was once the 1800’s Rancho Potrero de Santa Clara and later onion fields, gradually became a landing strip for the budding aviation industry after World War I. In the late 1940’s the city of San Jose turned the private airfield into a municipal airport and in 1948 Southwest Airlines was the first to commercially fly passengers.

The Guadalupe River originates in the Santa Cruz Mountains, flows north right through downtown San Jose, continues by and forms the northeastern border of what is now called the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airportalso known as SJC. The river continues on north and empties into San Francisco Bay. It is the southernmost major U.S. river with a King salmon run.

After writing the above prelude, I googled “King Salmon Guadalupe” and the name Roger Castillo kept popping up. He is tirelessly dedicated to cleaning up the Guadalupe River to enable the King Salmon to spawn. My goal in this project is to make everyone, everywhere appreciate the little spots of nature around us whether in a big city, the suburbs or even the countryside. What better way to do that than dedicating this blog entry to Roger, the “Watchdog” of the Guadalupe, who appreciates this waterway for more than just the scenery. You can read about him here, and check their website out here. Incidently, Roger is the one who discovered mammoth bones along the river some years ago.

Anyway, about the painting–I wanted to paint the Guadalupe close to the airport, so walked across a field to the northeast corner of SJC. Click this link for a map of all painting locations. Since it was an airport, I also wanted to make this a sky painting as we have had some beautiful skies with the series of Pacific storms hitting the bay area. We had a wonderful sunset the evening before I did this painting, and I wasn’t sure what skies the next day would bring, so just in case made some color notes. Painting sunsets en plein air is tricky as right after the best part, it becomes too dark to paint! You usually have to make color notes, and then finish the painting another day. I ended up basically combining the prior day’s sunset with the location today.

Looking at the painting above, the overpass in the background is Highway 101 (AKA Bayshore Freeway), and the airport is immediately behind that. It was hard to see much of the airport from my vantage point so just indicated a few buildings, the one on the left being the parking garage for terminal A. I set up on the Guadalupe River Trail & right behind me was the office complex for some company called eBay. The airplanes were taking off toward the south, a little unusual for this airport, so I put one soaring in the distance.

Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves

The Los Gatos Plein Air Group was out painting today by Coyote Creek, so I joined them for painting number twelve. They meet every Monday morning, and I used to paint with them fairly frequently, but haven’t much the last few years. It was great to see old friends again, and I think the first hour was spent just chatting and catching up! BTW, I would have liked to title them ‘Masters’ in this blog entry, but trying to keep up the cutsey rhyming titles…we are all elves.

We painted by Coyote Creek about ten miles upstream from Eleven: Christmas Day, also on Coyote Creek, but in a more rural area. This is probably the furthest south I will paint for this project, even though some consider Silicon Valley to extend even further south to the agricultural towns of Morgan Hill, San Martin and, Gilroy, which have become bedroom communities for Silicon Valley. These towns reside in Coyote Valley, considered a narrowing of Santa Clara Valley (AKA Silicon Valley), and the watershed for Coyote Creek.

Nearby, is IBM’s, Silicon Valley Lab (formerly known as the “Santa Teresa Lab”), of which and I have a number of friends either working, or have worked there.

Click here for a map of all painting locations.

It was a relatively small crowd for the Los Gatos Group with about half a dozen of us. Here are a few shots–

One of the Los Gatos Group painting by one of the ponds fed by Coyote Creek.
One of the Los Gatos Group painting by one of the ponds fed by Coyote Creek.
A local horse stops to see Rebeccah's painting.
A local horse stops to see Rebeccah’s painting.

A painting of the large pond which Coyote Creek flows into and out of would have been nice, but decided to stick to the stream for project’s name sake.

I painted the spot where Coyote Creek flows out of the pond.
I painted the spot where Coyote Creek flows out of the pond.
The Los Gatos Elves,  8x10, Oil on panel
The Los Gatos Elves, 8×10, Oil on panel

The group has a couple more stream locations on their agenda coming up soon, and I hope to join them again as weather and locations permit.

I may have picked the wrong year to do this project! By this time, the valley usually gets a few Pacific storms dumping enough rain to start many of the smaller streams, but so far this year it has been totally dry. But, like I said in the beginning, there is no lack of subject matter, and that still holds true. Even though we have had wonderful weather, I am hoping for rain!