I’ve enjoyed a long, fulfilling career in Silicon Valley. It’s an incredibly diverse, constantly changing place and state of mind. It’s easy to be consumed here in a world where creating disruption is your job. It see it everywhere as I walk the city (my favorite past-time). I notice the first-time tourists who see San Francisco through fresh eyes contrasted with the emerging technology class glued to their latest device. Watching them, I ask myself, do they miss the wonder in the eyes of newcomers around them? Can we maintain curiosity, and see the world anew every day?
As an Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group, my job now is to understand and council others in technology disruption. But I need a constant: a foundation that puts these ceaseless changes in perspective. How can you understand change without understanding the starting point? For me that starts with family of course, but also, seeing and expressing the undeniable beauty around me every day. So, I paint and sketch. Every day. Maybe it’s a “left brain, right brain” thing, but for me, creating something of lasting beauty in a world of ephemeral apps, devices and marketing campaigns gives me the foundation I need to notice. And noticing—being aware—is the first step in understanding the world as it is and can be.
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.
Leveraging my experience as a digital marketing professional, I have conducted some new research with the goal of educating artists about how to approach sales and marketing online. The research is based on a survey I conducted. The report is available below, and includes some interesting data and insights. I conducted research last year as well, available here.
As always, I’d like to hear from you. Please enter your feedback on this blog post’s comments. Cheers!
San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico is a real gem. The centro’s architecture is Spanish Colonial, and the people there are wonderful. Love painting there, and finally got Mike to go on a visit recently. Here are some paintings in watercolor and oil. Enjoy!
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.
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”.
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.
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!
It was a pleasure presenting today at the 2nd Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo! If you were not able to attend, here are my slides. In the presentation, I show how social media can either be a distraction or help you reach fine art collectors and build your career. Enjoy!
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.
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!
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.