Category Archives: Seascapes

San Luis Obispo Show: Painting on the Buchon Trail

“For a few weeks in August, 1976, Hollywood magic flipped the coasts of the United States and transformed the coast south of Moñtana de Oro State Park into Passamaquoddy, Maine. A lighthouse was built near Point Buchon as  part of Pete’s Dragon, the most expensive Walt Disney production to date.”  So reported local papers as Disney built a lighthouse on the Buchon Trail, the subject of a new show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art October 5-8.  I’m honored to be one of several invited artists invited to capture this landscape “en plein air” for a show of paintings fresh off the easel. The gallery above shows some of the paintings I plan to hang.

This incredible coastal area was only opened to the public a few years ago, and as far as I know, this is the first show dedicated to the unspoiled beauty of this land.  Being there last week, driven with my painting equipment in a 4-wheel drive on seldom used private dirt roads, I had a chance to see how the earliest Native Americans and their Spanish invaders witnessed an unspoiled California coast.

If you’re an artist or collector, chances are you’ve seen countless paintings of Laguna Beach, Point Lobos or Morro Bay–but you’re unlikely to  have seen this incredible landscape chosen by Disney studios to amaze movie goers.

And it is an amazing landscape.  Of particular interest (which I’m not posting here–come to the show and see it!) are the large rock stacks just off shore that are considered the “Stonehenge of the Pacific.”  They really are incredible, and I had a great time painting them to prepare for the show with fellow artists.  Several of us painted these icons, and they’re each unique.  Come see what each artist saw.

So, join us, by either viewing the show at the museum, and/or watching the artists (including me) paint the area live.  As a bonus, the proceeds from the show will help fund this local icon of Central Coast arts, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.  Click here for more detail, if you come, say hello!

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Moss Beach

This is one of my favorite places to paint.  It’s nearby, and has many of the features of far away (well, 1.5 hours) Point Lobos.  I’ve been painting gouache studies recently for ease of travel, and they translate well to oil, being opaque.  I like this study and will–someday–paint a large studio version.  The ArtSavesLives gallery has offered me a solo show, so perhaps sometime in 2017.  For now, this is available on my Facebook Store here, framed for $300.

Moss Beach (late afternoon, plein air), gouache on paper, 8x8"
Moss Beach (late afternoon, plein air), gouache on paper, 8×8″
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Variations on a Theme

I was speaking to someone on a airplane last night about the visual arts and how they relate to music. Here’s my analogy: In high school, I played jazz trombone. Key to that genre is the ability to improvise. It’s a beautiful thing to hear a musician create new music on the fly during an improvisation. What may seem to be a beautiful, but haphazard, run of notes is actually the result of playing within the composer’s written sequence of cord progressions. The jazz musician creates in the moment, but she does so based on what’s in front of her: sheet music (in a sense). The same is very much true of those artists that create variations based on a theme. The subject is the theme (sheet music) and the art is the variation (improvisation).

For me, a recent theme has been Moss Beach, here in Northern California. The series of paintings below shows how I’ve studied this area, and created variations on this landscape. The first three paintings are based on the same spot, but with different mediums–oil, watercolor–and different perspectives. The last 4 are looking in a different direction, but again, studies of the same view using different mediums and ideas. From these studies, I’m learning to record and compare my feelings for the spot so I can later determine what resonates and where to build upon–as, for example, a larger studio work.

I hope you enjoy these improvisations of Moss Beach. More to come.

Moss Beach Cove, Oil on Linen, 9x12
Moss Beach Cove, Oil on Linen, 9×12
Moss Beach Cove, Watercolor, 6x6
Moss Beach Cove, Watercolor, 6×6″
Moss Beach Study, Watercolor, 9x12
Moss Beach Study, Watercolor, 9×12
Moss Beach Bluffs 1, Watercolor, 6x6
Moss Beach Bluffs 1, Watercolor, 6×6
Moss Beach Study 2, Watercolor, 6x6
Moss Beach Study 2, Watercolor, 6×6
Moss Beach Bluffs 5, Watercolor, 4x6.5
Moss Beach Bluffs 5, Watercolor, 4×6.5″

 

Moss Beach Bluffs #3, Oil on Linen, 12x9
Moss Beach Bluffs #3, Oil on Linen, 12×9″
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Moss Beach Seascapes

I’ve found a new favorite place to paint, Moss Beach.  The spot I found (at Juliana Ave, Moss Beach, CA 94038) is small, but has it all: Monterey Cypress, ice plant, bluffs, a small beach. It’s also closer than favorite spots like Point Lobos, so I expect to return here often.

Enjoy this latest work, and as always, your comments are welcome.

This study is probably my favorite, as it’s closer to the loose, painterly approach that I’m aiming for.

Juicy Surf, Oil on Linen, 9x12
Juicy Surf, Oil on Linen, 9×12″

Here’s a gray day view of the bluffs.  Painting on gray days is often under-valued by artists, who prefer full sun, but gray days keep the light consistent for a longer period of time, so the plein air painter has more time to complete a painting.  You’re not “chasing the sun”.

Moss Beach Bluffs (Gray Day), Oil on Linen, 11x14
Moss Beach Bluffs (Gray Day), Oil on Linen, 11×14

 

Moss Beach Bluffs #2, Oil on Linen, 11x14
Moss Beach Bluffs #2, Oil on Linen, 11×14

 

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The Whimsy of San Gregorio

Recently, I’ve found a new muse in San Gregorio State Beach (CA).  It’s a wonderful, unique stretch of beach on the northern coast of California.  It’s a site full of whimsy: high art castles and lowly shacks, all made of driftwood from the sea.  A great past time there is to build all kinds of structures from the gnarled, twisted wood spread across the beach.  Kids just have a wonderful time building things and exploring “the neighborhood” of structures and arrangements around them.  I haven’t painted a full edifice yet, but starting my study of the place with by painting studies of little stretches of beach in different weather, full sun and foggy days, to get to know the place.

Beach Shack by Ian Crocket
Beach Shack by Ian Crocket

I painted the study below Sunday.  For me, it was a day of escape.  I didn’t sleep much the night before due to a nagging sinus headache that would continue a couple days, including this day. I knew that once I started painting and entered “the zone“–or in physchology, “flow“, which is “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does” (source: Wikipedia).  Someone asked me how long I’d been working, and I truly had the no idea.  At first I thought, I don’t know, 10 years (thinking she meant total time painting), and then realized she must have meant the study, so I said an hour.  I’m sure it was much longer.  The headache did cease while painting!  Amazing things can happen when one finds something so absorbing to do.  I’m very lucky to have that.

So while I work on concepts for something larger in the studio, here are a couple recent studies to enjoy.  The last (below) will be featured in an article I wrote for the June edition of PleinAir Magazine.  I’m very excited about that!

As always, I’d love to know what you think, so please enter a comment on my blog.  Cheers, – Ed

San Gregorio State Beach CA (Sunny Day), Oil on Linen, 10x8
San Gregorio State Beach CA (Sunny Day), Oil on Linen, 10×8

 

San Gregorio State Park, CA (overcast day), Oil on Linen, 10x8
San Gregorio State Park, CA (overcast day), Oil on Linen, 10×8

 

 

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San Gregorio State Beach

Sunday was foggy along the coast, but I was able to find something interesting to paint at San Gregorio State Beach.  This beach is known for having plenty of driftwood, and beach-goers build really interesting huts and other structures there.  It’s well worth a visit.  This painting received a lot of comments on my Facebook page, so appears to be a winner!  I think people are reacting to the simplicity of it.  I hope you enjoy it.

San Gregorio State Beach (Foggy Day), Oil on Linen, 9x12
San Gregorio State Beach (Foggy Day), Oil on Linen, 9×12
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Baker Beach (San Francisco, CA)

We’re having kind of an odd Spring storm in San Francisco this Easter week, so I’m posting a study I painted a couple weeks ago at Baker Beach.

By the way, next week will be quite busy, as I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the 2nd Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo in Monterey, CA..  I’ll be both painting a demo (using Arches’ Cobra solvent free oils, which was used to paint the seascape below), and I’ll be giving a talk on Social Media Marketing.  I hope to see you there!  Say hello!

Baker Beach (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8x10
Baker Beach (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8×10
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Testing Solvent-Free Oil Paint

What I love about being an artist is the opportunity to continually learn and explore.  My focus recently is learning to use new and different materials. Royal Talens sent me a set of Cobra solvent-free oil paints to try, and these are my first results.  The benefit is I don’t have to use solvents, which even though labeled “odor free” really are not, and it’s nice so nice to clean up with soap and water!

As I explore how to work with this paint, I’m find myself painting with a much thicker impasto technique–and I’m enjoying it!  Trying new materials can push artists in new directions and open up new possibilities.  I hope you enjoy these studies, all done in San Francisco.

Monterey Cypress (Lands End, San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8x10
Monterey Cypress (Lands End, San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8×10
Crissy Field (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 10x8
Crissy Field (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 10×8
Ravine, Oil on Linen, 10x8
Ravine, Oil on Linen, 10×8

 

 

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Montana de Oro (Last Light)

Just recovered from a 5 day illness.  It’s nice to have some energy to paint after being sick so long.  This is from a reference photo of Montana De Oro, in San Luis Obisipo County.  I paint this location for the annual plein air show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.  For this painting, my focus was getting the light/shadow colors just right on the bluffs.  Trying to keep it simple. Everything else are supporting characters.  Enjoy!

 

Montana de Oro (Last Light), Oil on Linen, 9x12
Montana de Oro (Last Light), Oil on Linen, 9×12
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SLO Museum of Art Show Preview

After a great week of painting (although, lots of work and some tough, 100-degree weather), my paintings for the San Luis Obispo Plein Air 2012 show at the SLO Museum of Art are ready to go! I need to choose three of these five for the show. I’ve listed them in order of my favorites first. What do you think?

Avila Bluffs (San Luis Obispo, CA), Oil on Linen, 12x16
Avila Bluffs (San Luis Obispo, CA), Oil on Linen, 12×16
Rocks & Surf (Avila, CA)
Rocks & Surf (Avila, CA)
Avila Cove (Late Afternoon), Oil on Linen, 11x14
Avila Cove (Late Afternoon), Oil on Linen, 11×14
Avila Cove (San Luis Obispo, CA), Oil on Linen, 12x9
Avila Cove (San Luis Obispo, CA), Oil on Linen, 12×9
Lake Sunset (San Luis Obispo, CA), Oil on Linen, 9x12
Lake Sunset (San Luis Obispo, CA), Oil on Linen, 9×12

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[Update 10/5]: you’ve all convinced me, the last painting below (sunset) is in the show! Thanks for your feedback. It’s really difficult to judge my own work.

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San Francisco Plein Air

I’m so lucky to live in a city with so much beauty to paint!  I’ve neglected it too long, often looking for inspiration in Carmel, the Central Coast, and elsewhere.  I may eventually paint citiscapes again, but for now, enjoying the beauty of the coast.  The only work not from San Francisco below is from Alta Lake, a friends home in The Sierras we get to visit a couple times a year.  Enjoy!

Lands End Morning (San Francisco), Oil on Linen (Plein Air), 12x9"
Lands End Morning (San Francisco), Oil on Linen (Plein Air), 12×9″
Lands End Hike (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8x10
Lands End Hike (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8×10
View at Sutro Baths (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8x10
View at Sutro Baths (San Francisco), Oil on Linen, 8×10; plein air.
Simonds Loop Presidio of San Francisco, Oil on Linen, 12x9
Simonds Loop Presidio of San Francisco, Oil on Linen, 12×9 (Plein air)
Lake Alta (From The Millers), Oil on Linen, 8x10
Lake Alta (From The Millers), Oil on Linen, 8×10 (plein air)
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