Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Beach House"

5x7" oil on masonite

This is an old beach cottage in Half Moon Bay. Half Moon Bay is a small coastal town about 40 minutes south of San Francisco. There's still a lot of farming going on in the area, mostly pumpkins, artichokes and brussels sprouts. The farms continue south for about fifty miles until you reach Santa Cruz. It's nice to have so much open, undeveloped space so close to a big city. I've done quite a bit of plein air painting on the coast, mostly during the winter, summer can be foggy. Fog is good for artichokes but I'm not too motivated to make foggy paintings.

When I first started painting, I remember being nervous about setting up in public. I thought Half Moon Bay would be a good place to break the ice and not be noticed. I parked on a small country road just outside of San Gregorio. I stood there for ten minutes admiring the scenery, not a single car came by. Perfect! 

I set up my easel and began the struggle to make something out of all that green! Within minutes my painting was completely out of control and I had no idea how to pull it together. That's when the first passerby appeared. It was a guy on a bike, no big deal. But then another, and another, and then HUNDREDS! The bikes passed me slowly as they climbed the hill. One guy heckled me, shouting something about "Hey look, it's van Gogh!" At least they didn't throw rocks or try to rob me.

Well the painting was a disaster, but I'd survived my first plein air experience. I'm happy to say I no longer seek solitude to set up. The city is now one of my favorite places to paint, right on a busy sidewalk. 


Denise Rose said...

Great story Mike. I am still hesitant about setting up where there are people so I need some of that confidence you have!

I did a post yesterday with a link to your art and showing your art on my studio artist wall along with some other wonderful artists!

Linda Nickles said...

It's good to know that other artists suffer a little anxiety when first painting plein air. Thanks for sharing your own experience. I like this painting, Mike . . . it makes me think of Hopper. Great job!

Donna Weathers said...

What a compliment to be called Van Gogh! Love the blog and your work.