The quest started as a simple idea. I didn’t even know if I would, or even could finish it. After all, it was a commitment for a year.
I didn’t know if any of it would turn out any good, or just a bunch of bad paintings for the scrap heap. I didn’t know if anything would be interesting or worth looking at.
I didn’t know I would eventually paint ghost towns in Silicon Valley, or haunted springs, or wild beaver sign in a metropolitan city, or the worlds largest homeless camp, or the world’s first ‘plein air selfie’.
I didn’t know eventually strangers would walk up to me, give me a hug, and say I brought back their fond childhood memories.
I also didn’t know it would snowball in scope and public interest way beyond my first simple idea.
Four years ago today, I started the year-long quest to paint a different “Creek and River of Silicon Valley” each week en plein air, or on location.
At the time, even finishing the year successfully was not known, but I ended up with 60 paintings of 43 different creeks all over the South San Francisco Bay area. Little did I know it would grow with articles written by international art publications, multiple showings in various venues, and a book. Discover about the quest, including a short documentary video, interactive map, and other information here–
The collection of 60 paintings is still intact and will be for the foreseeable future. I am still seeking venues both local and nationally for showings, so if any of you have ideas for venues, please let me know!
Continuing my seasonal miniature paintings, here are three more, all in Yosemite National Park. I have already sold a number of miniatures this season and am departing slightly the 6×6 square format to other sizes.
Dropping a total of 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, and one of the highest on the globe.
Here’s another 6×6 in Yosemite National Park. This is one of the falls or cataracts as the Merced River tumbles out of Yosemite Valley.
Built in 1922, Yosemite Creek Bridge is the oldest stone bridge in Yosemite Valley, spanning Yosemite Creek below Yosemite Falls (shown above).
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.
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)—
The view I was trying to capture, however somewhat modified
Selfie in Cowell
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)—
Koi pond at Hakone Garden
Painting in the shade!
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)—
Selfie along Penitencia Creek
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)—
The scene as the sun was setting.
Selfie as it gets darker
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)—
The scene to paint
Setup on a gravel bar
Selfie along Los Gatos Creek in Vasona park
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.
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)—
Hanging out at the VIP Reception
Hanging out at the VIP Reception
Carol and Marti enjoying the heat
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)—
My panel at the show
Festival in the park
All-in-all, the Rotary once again put on a wonderful show, and a great big thanks to them for their work!
All of you have by now heard about the flooding in my hometown of San Jose around Coyote Creek, the largest watershed in Silicon Valley. During my year long quest to paint “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” I did 18 paintings in the Coyote watershed, and 5 of Coyote Creek itself. That was also during one of the worst droughts California experienced in years. Now Coyote Creek is above flood stage.
Today, during a break between storms, the creek has subsided a bit, so I did a mini-tour of some of the locations I painted from San Jose down to Anderson Dam in Morgan Hill. Below are pictures before, now, plus the painting I did at the time. I also included a couple videos and a link to the original weblog at the time of the original painting.
This scene, is just a few hundred yards from the other painting, but even later in the year, and right by the Hwy 120 bridge in Tuolumne Meadows. One of the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada, dome studded Tuolumne Meadows is a sub-alpine section of the Tuolumne River in the high country of Yosemite National Park. It is a mecca for outdoorsmen, fishermen, campers, hikers, rock climbers, and people who just want to enjoy the outdoors. It is also a center for those who want to horseback or backpack the high Sierra Nevada Mountain range, often called “The Range of Light”
Here are a few pictures of the painting developing. Click on a thumbnail to see the full picture…
“Up and away to Lake Tenaya, another big day, enough for a lifetime. The rocks, the air, everything speaking with audible voice or silent; joyful, wonderful, everlasting, banishing weariness and sense of time. No longing for anything now or hereafter as we go home into the mountain’s heart.”
—John Muir – “My First Summer in the Sierra”
One of the easily accessible alpine lakes in the high Sierra, Tenaya Lake is also one of the most spectacular. Named after Yosemite Ahwahneechee Chief Tenaya, it is nestled in a granite basin surrounded by soaring granite domes, peaks, and lodgepole forests. Along Hwy 120 (Tioga Pass Road), it is also a sports destination with hiking, swimming, and boating.
This scene is where Tenaya Lake starts to empty on it’s western side into Tenaya Creek, and eventually flows into Yosemite Valley where it joins with the Merced River.
This is the third recently done, of what I am dubbing my “vertical water scenes”. I resurrected an old technique used often when painting acrylics, of painting the water from ground up, and then glazing over the top until you get to the surface. Of course it takes longer with oils as they have to dry between coats. Acrylics dry within minutes but oils can take up to a week to dry to the touch. I used Liquin in this instance as a glazing medium and to speed up the drying time, and also to put a glossy glaze on the water. A space heater in my studio also helped!
Here’s a few pictures as the painting progressed in the gallery below. Click on each photo to see a larger version. Email subscribers may have to click on the above title to see them.
Here’s a couple of photos of me on a recent trip trip there doing a plein air piece…Click on each photo to see a larger version. Email subscribers may have to click on the above title to see them.
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Technically, it’s Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Education Center, which is quite a mouthful. There are selected paintings from “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” currently on display at the center. Today, they sponsored a reception and ‘meet the artist’. It turned out to be quite fun! We had some nice refreshments, then I talked for awhile, visited, and answered a wide range of questions. Some took a guided nature hike through part of the Refuge. I talked about art, indian legends, magic, ghosts, history, flight, conservation, the environment, but mostly about the creeks and waterways in Silicon Valley. My goal was for everyone to look ‘under the surface’ of what is around them in Silicon Valley to appreciate what used to be called “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”. From what I could tell no one fell asleep, and everyone seemed to have a good time!
Just a few pictures of the afternoon courtesy of my friend, past work associate, and great photographer, Scott Loftesness. If you haven’t seen some of Scott’s photos, you should check them out here and here.
The exhibit will be up until the late fall and we don’t really have an end date yet. If you haven’t seen it, or been out to the center, it is certainly worth the trip!
During my quest of painting the creeks of Silicon Valley, stuff I painted in many places, medicine but almost all the creeks end up in the marshes of the San Francisco Bay in what is now called the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge encompasses most of the southern portions of the bay, generic and is a wonderful reclamation of land once used for industrial purposes.
We put up 18 paintings specifically from the Coyote Creek Watershed in their Education Center today. The paintings will be on display now until the fall. A special event is scheduled for September 5, which is free, but you must sign up here.