I painted en plein air recently in a place that has always intrigued me with it’s dramatic architecture, interesting shadows and reflections and of course the famous red trolleys–that is, at the San Diego Metropolitan Transit system’s Santa Fe Depot at One America Plaza in downtown San Diego. Here’s a pic of the architecture which previously won an “Orchid Award” in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation review of San Diego developments and construction projects which either effuse the elegance of an orchid…or the stink of an onion.
I arrived early…before 8:00am and set up my easel in the traffic island at the center of the intersection at Broadway and Kettner. It was a great place from which to paint and provided the perfect vantage of the trolleys coming and going. Painting the trolley itself was done in fits and spurts as one trolley would leave but another would arrive in minutes and for the most part, with a few exceptions, was identical. Here’s a pic of my easel, with two trolleys in the station in the background…
It was interesting to paint with the traffic rolling by and when the traffic would stop, folks would gawk out the car windows, inquisitively at the patently unusual sight of a crazed plein air painter in the middle of traffic, wearing a big, Guatemalan palm leaf, cowboy hat, pacing to and fro, wielding a long, paint laden brush like a picador, stabbing at a canvas as if it were a snorting bull trying to gore him. Many pedestrians walking by gave the big, “thumbs up” and commented that I was making a beautiful painting, which is always encouraging. Here’s the result of the morning’s effort–a 16 x 16 inch oil on stretched canvas, titled “Rolling Through.” Whether it is an “orchid” or an “onion” or the bull won is in the proverbial eye of the beholder…
I got out early with my plein air kit and drove…no particular destination in mind but felt the water pulling me to the West. It had been a few weeks since I’ve painted the environs of our Southern California coast and it is always a source of excellent subjects for rendering with a brush and paint.
I found myself heading up the Point Loma Peninsula via Rosecrans Boulevard. Once inside the Navy Base and Federal Reserve lands up there I was amazed, as always, at the sense of height and distance from that perspective. Downtown San Diego and Coronado are seeming miniature villages, miles away and below as you drive through the hallowed grounds of the National Cemetery. It is a somber, yet peaceful and beautiful place. I recommend that any visitor make the drive, but definitely stop and get out of your vehicle. It is worth the effort to take some time to feel the fresh sea breezes, hear the peaceful quiet and take a few moments to reflect on the fallen soldiers and military who rest in peace there.
In mid-December, my wife, Jackie and I were fortunate enough to visit the island of Maui, Hawaii, once again. We stayed in an intimate little oceanfront condominium in the Kahana area of West Maui. The balcony or “Lanai” of the second story unit was literally within spitting distance of the ocean, which lapped against a seawall down below. The sea turtles could be seen, munching on sponges growing on the rocks. I took some video with my phone–have a look:
It was a great and relaxing stay. Christmas was coming soon and there were Hawaiian Christmas songs on the radio and lots of Holiday spirit, which was very nice. Once again, I traveled with my painting kit and was able to find some brief time to paint. On an early Sunday morning, I hiked afoot from our rental condo about a quarter mile down the lower Honoapiilani Road and found a public beach (all beaches in Maui are public beaches) that offered a nice view of a small bay and the island of Molokai, across the Lahaina Roads Channel. The day was overcast and threatening rain (it only rained once during our stay and that was at night), so the typical bright Hawaiian color palette was a bit muted. Here is the quick little painting that I came home with:
It was tough to leave and come home to the mainland. Once back, however, after the holidays I’ve got back to painting with regularity. Here are two of my most recent–first, one I call “Blue Agaves,” which was painting on location at the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, California.
I’ll be painting with some well known California plein air artists in April in a quickdraw competition at the same Gardens–stay posted!
Here is one done last Saturday in Del Mar, which I am calling “Penasquitos Lagoon from Del Mar Bluffs.” This one is 16X20″ oil on canvas. You can see the fantastic view of the Penasquitos estuary from my easel set in this photo:
…and here is the full image of the painting:
It’s good to be back home and into the rythm of the new year.
To all my friends, family and patrons who have shown interest in my art and painting, I thank you for your continued support and encouragement. It was a great (and busy) year for me and I completed a few nice paintings. Having friends, family an patrons who care and encourage is invaluable to me as an artist and without this support, it would not be possible. I thank you, dearly, for providing the love.
Thankfully, a local gallery owner has provided support in the form of a venue for me to display my work and I have selected some dozen, done within the last year or so. They all have the common theme of being painted in the open air and depicting some of the local iconic scenery of San Diego County. They will be on view and available for the month of December at Silver Creek Gallery and Custom Framing in Downtown El Cajon, California.
If you have the time, I’d be happy to see you at the Artists Reception on Friday, December 6th from 5 to 8pm. There’s no obligation to buy anything and there will be some light hors d’oeuvres and wine poured, so stop by and say hello if you can. It will be a completely casual event. There are some decent restaurants (Mexican, Italian) within walking distance of the gallery and other shops and galleries that are open for the evening, sponsored by the Merchants and City of El Cajon.
Seeing oil paintings in person, framed and in good lighting, with all their texture and varnished glory is much different from seeing them on your computer monitor. I invite you to come and have a look. I’d love to share them with you.
La Jolla Cove, Bird Rock, the Cave Shell Shop, and the Oceanfront walk are a great place to spend an early Saturday morning in San Diego County. I went there yesterday with my camera and recorded some images. Here are a my favorite selections from the photos I took.
The geographic configuration of the La Jolla Coast is such that you can’t really call it a peninsula but it does jut westward from the coast to the North, creating not quite a bay but what I would call a “bight”–the La Jolla Bight.
Various species of pelagic birds make their home and spend time away from ocean foraging on the rocks and cliffs of the La Jolla Peninsula. Recently, the city spent lots of public money trying to wash the guano off of the cliffs because it makes the area smell like the sea. The cleanup operation left pools of a disgusting dark sludge instead of the bleached white guano…oops…anyone else have any bright ideas? The rocks in the photo above have not been “cleaned” yet but are slated for “phase two” of “Operation Poop-be-gone.”
This fellow seemed displeased that I had the audacity to get close while he was trying to digest his morning repast. He did not fly away, however as I was using a telephoto lens and did not have to get too close.
It is a beautiful area, especially early before it gets too crowded. Get there early (around 8:00am) to find ample parking, which can be hard to find later in the morning.