I had an unexpected inquiry from my website last fall; someone had recently bought a home that was near Diablo Canyon and was wondering if I would be interested in a largish commission to make a painting of it. That began a months long process that just finished recently.
I had taken several photographs of Diablo Canyon – they had done a google search for ‘paintings + diablo canyon’, and the keywords on my photographs had led them to my website, as it turns out. We went through about 12 of my photographs maybe, and culled that to 4. I went to their house and took photos of the room where the painting would go, and mocked up each photograph as if it were framed to scale there. Eventually I made two full size color prints of their two likeliest choices on not great paper, and they taped them up on the wall. Once they had chosen the image, I got started.
It wasn’t really possible to make a watercolor as big as they wanted, so I decided to use acrylic on canvas for weight’s sake. My friend and master oil painter, Madison Cawein, persuaded me that I would appreciate working in oils and promised to help get me set up and share which mediums he used, etc., so I changed courses and started my first oil painting since I was 12…
We’ve had some delightful winter weather here in Santa Fe. Not knowing how long it would last, I hurried down to Diablo Canyon, which is amazingly just down the road from where we live.
Diablo Canyon was originally a lava lake that was probably surrounded by sandstones that have since eroded away, leaving these basalt cliffs. I’ve enjoyed visiting it, but wasn’t amazed until I went one day and saw these guys high on the cliffs to the left. I scrambled around a bit and discovered the trail that goes up that side and into what’s called the grotto and eventually up to the top. That completely changes one’s point of view, and also gives some lovely views to the Jemez Mountains to the west.
Coincidentally, I was commissioned to make a 4′ x 6′ oil painting of Diablo Canyon, which I am in the middle of now. I attached a work in progress image at the end of these photographs.
This is from a late night ramble around the area overlooking the Marina one night, after I had moved to Santa Fe but was still working occasionally in San Francisco. After three decades there, there is a certain wistfulness about this special place in this image.
Some good friends surprised me by commissioning a painting for their house in San Francisco. They went through my photographs and chose two for consideration, I then made a reference print at the size of the finished painting so they could put them up and think about it. Once they decided which of the two (they were both hard) I got to work.
I recently showed my work at the Sausalito Art Festival, and took the opportunity while I was in California to drive down to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos. The park is a beautiful and not well known forest, that was also the epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred when I was working in San Francisco.
My favorite trail is the Aptos Creek Trail, which had been heavily damaged by the winter storms, so it was more than usually challenging. I hiked in about 6 miles, spent the night and then back again in the morning. It’s always a special treat to experience dusk and then dawn in a forest.