Monthly Archives: September 2012

Back to Work!!

When I left home for my road trip, a painting was sitting on my studio easel:  A scene from Deception Pass on the far northern most end of Whidbey Island. 

Tonight I picked up where I left off and plan to have this completed by the end of the work week. 

Oddly enough, I drove the Pacific coast from Stinson Beach, CA to Astoria, Oregon in search of breaking surf and never found any that matched what I found on Whidbey Island last June.

Road Trip 2012 Summary and Wrap-up

Road Trip 2012 – Summary and Wrap-UP

Home again!  You know you belong there when even a distant view brings a smile to your face.

This is a commentary of the 2.5 weeks I spent traveling through Washington, Oregon, and California this past August-September.

Where I went:

First stop was Sacramento, CA to visit my 83 old mother-in-law and also my sister-in-law.  I also linked up after some 35 years with a fellow art student/friend from my Sacramento State University days.

From there it was on to Yosemite’s Tioga Pass.   That is incredible country up there.

I spent a day in Yosemite Valley, also.  Very crowded and pretty warm.

Visited my daughter and her husband in Fresno where we attended the annual Fresno Greek Orthodox “Greek Fest” – Music, dancing, pretty women, handsome men, and food, food, food…  I also visited a great little art gallery in Sanger, CA owned and operated by Kathleen Mattox.  Sanger is a depressed agriculture based community which is suffering heavily at the current time.  Kathleen has spearheaded the organization of an “ART Hop” there to help both bring the community together and bring in some
money from tourists.

Back to Sacramento to meet some new friends (Janelle and Doug) via my sister-in-law.  Doug and I understood each others sense of humor, which should make some people a little wary of Doug.

To Point Reyes National Seashore.  The Pt Reyes Light house was, of course fogged in but the country side leading out to the light was very striking; dotted as it was with a dozen or so historic ranches
dating from the mid 1800’s. 
I made my way up from there to Russian Gulch State Park.  This was a beautiful park with great park rangers.  It is also two miles north of Mendocino, one of my favorite towns and the Mendocino Art Center, itself a very impressive complex.  I hiked and sketched and painted here for a number of days until fog once again drove me away.

Cape Blanco, Oregon was a beautiful place but the wind on the headlands was running a steady 25 to 30 knots and gusting to 35!  Not a place to sit outside and sketch or paint.

Driving the Oregon Coast was a great experience and there were many photo and sketching  opportunities.  Heceta Head Light House is a favorite of mine and unfortunately was being given a full restoration when I arrived.  Thus the light was draped in protective tarps. The restoration work was painstakingly detailed and involved in replacing and repointing brickwork, making replacement
metal parts cleaning the huge Fresnel lens, painting , rewiring, and weather proofing.  If you get a chance to see this working light house, do it.  However the entire area is beautiful and I was able to create a series of sketches and supporting photos.

By this time I was winding down.  I made into Washington and made the decision the next morning to head on home to Whidbey Island.

My Goals and Expectations:

My goal was to see some of the country that I have driven through in the past but never took the time to stop and actually see it.  My expectation was that doing this would provide me with a number of ideas for paintings and also jack up my energy levels for this winter’s work in the studio.  I also expected to create numerous pencil and color sketches along with a series of small paintings to use as references for this work.

I accomplished my goal:  I did “see” the country as I moved through it.  I want to go back to certain locations to see it again and let it soak into my experience.  My expectations were met with the exception of the small paintings.  I created some 50 pencil sketches and water color sketches and have many useful ideas.  These along with the photos I shot will keep me busy for some time.  However I only did one painting.  I am not sure why this was so, maybe the setting up and cleanup necessary, subconsciously dissuaded me or maybe I was just plain lazy but I only did one of the expected 30-40 8 x10 inch paintings I thought I would produce.

What I learned:

To make art one has to go make art.  You can’t talk it into existence, you can’t look at it and make it your own:  You have to sit down (or stand) in front of a blank surface and start making marks.  I knew this before but I learned what it really means on this trip.

I also learned that making art isn’t all that easy.  Blank surfaces on which your are expected to place enough marks to call it art can sometime be very intimidating.

I learned that I am easily intimidated by blank surfaces and that I have to stay aware of this and forge ahead anyway.  I also learned that, although I don’t believe I am an outgoing person, I do get lonely and miss having people around me.

Being on the road and living out of my truck is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I will be better equipped, next time.

Lastly, I learned that there will be definitely a “Next Time.”

What I will do differently next time:

I will use more comfortable camping equipment.  Doing this requires, at least for me, a camper or small travel trailer or motor-home.  The camper shell on my pickup truck felt spacious and comfortable during
the first week or so but soon after became cramped and inconvenient:  Especially in less than perfect weather.

Next time I will take someone along.  Maybe one of my dogs who are great companions and would love the trip but better yet, a friend and a dog.

Next time I will plan on staying in fewer locations but staying in each longer so that I can really get to know the area.  I mentioned earlier in this blog that I felt that I needed a month on Tioga Pass to get by the overwhelming grandeur of the country so I could actually paint its essential character.  Not all locations need this much time but a stay of a week at each would have worked better.  A week makes setting up a comfortable campsite more likely and also gives one time to explore the area without
worrying where you will park that night.   

Thanks go to my wife, who encouraged me to take this trip and to take on the chores I normally do at home and thanks to all the friendly and helpful people that I met along the way: You really did make it a pleasant journey.  And thanks to America for being a place where such a trip was possible.

Leaving Whidbey Island


Ranch along California Highway 1

El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, CA

Along the Oregon Coast

Historic Ranch “F” at Pt Reyes National Seashore, CA

Heceta Head Light, Oregon – In its bee-keeper’s costume.

Whidbey Island from the Port Townsend Ferry



































2012 Road Trip

August 31, 2012 

Fog again today.  I waited until noon hoping for a change but it seemed to get worse, not better.

Last night I decided to move North, if the fog had not lifted.  I packed up at noon and headed for Oregon.  After passing through the California Redwoods (Always a pleasant experience) I stopped in Crescent City for a Motel Room, shower, laundry run, and a general “not be out there alone” for a short while.  I think the hardest part of this road trip (perhaps the only hard part) is being alone all the time and always being the stranger where ever I go.   Tomorrow the Oregon coast and sunny weather!The California Redwoods