A good day! Got a fairly early start to Point Lobos and, oh my! It is truly magnificent! Spent some time at Cypress Grove; as I am beginning down the trail, I come up on a park docent and say hello. A brief conversation, he says, ah, a painter, where will you paint? I respond, thought you might tell me that. He looks at his watch, says, I have a few minutes, let’s go have a look. He takes great pride, showing me each and every vista at every turn. Really stunning.
I comment at one point in a grove, look at all this amazing red/orange and burnt sienna in all the cypress right here; he tells me that that is beta-Carotine, same as is found in carrots. Wow. Oh, and just ahead here you might like the way the light hits these stone steps, I think they were built in 1930. Yes, I do, indeed. Also shows me a cool thing, what he calls 'hare grass,' specific, maybe even indigenous, to the area.
My new buddy, Russ, as it turns out, is from Waukegan just north of Chicago, but been here since the 70’s. He attended Northern Illinois University, got his degree in meteorology. Wait, a minute, I tell him, I taught theater at that university, for a time, a lifetime ago! He gets a kick out of that. But he must get back to his shift at the info station. A pleasure to have met.
For a moment, I am reminded of my father who was a docent at the children’s zoo in Ft Wayne; was incredibly proud to be able to show folks around, tell them stories. He used to volunteer to take particular animals to local schools, let the kids pet them, and would share some information and history. But mostly it gave my dad an opportunity to meet people and tell them jokes. Jokes that usually cracked him up more than the hearers and that was the charm of it :)
I decide to paint on a bluff that is cool as heck. Remember a few days back I wrote about trying to be efficient? Well, today that talent is absent. I go to the car, I have forgotten the umbrella. Back down the trail – leaving gear behind me – to the parking lot, retrieve what I need. Back I go. Ah, I have now forgotten sunblock, my phone, and my water. Down the trail and to the lot and back again. Well, this is certainly fun. Not getting much painting done. Yeah, how’s that view treating you just now? Sure is perty. I get the gear set up. Oops, I have forgotten…. you know what, I don’t need it. In fact, should have left in Chicago in the first place.
Lots of people come up to say hello; a few take business cards (glad I did not forget them in the car). Sheesh. And I have this strange thought that keeps meandering through my brain. There is a China Grove here in the park somewhere; I wonder if it is the reference in the Doobie Brothers’ seventies’ song of same title? I don’t think so, I think that was something to do with Texas. Paint, Jeffrey, paint.
You know what, now that I am onto the Doobie Brothers, I wonder… will you shut up and paint, already!
Oh, and to add to it all, I have lost a brass bolt and nut that essentially holds the easel upright so as to place a canvas. So, off I go, retracing my steps, thirty minutes at least, through the areas that my buddy, Russ, and I have traversed. Nothing. But I am singing to myself the chorus “China Grove, ohhh, ohhh”, so that’s good. I rig something to hold the easel in place. But the painting before me, burdened with the weight of masterpiece, begins to make the easel sag to and fro… no, just kidding. All is well. I am having a good time. There are sea otters and seals playing in the water below me, I kid not, in the kemp, which is a beautiful rust color. And the blue of the sea, holy cow, it is remarkable. Reminds me of the vitality of the sea in Greece, almost other-worthly. Looks like a painting. Hmmm, that’s ironic.
I have set my alarm for two hours hence as I will want to try another painting, in another location in the park. And am actually doing pretty well, moving right through it – it is coming together nicely. I am keeping the chalkiness out of it, and staying with the brush, opting for palette knife simply to whack in some of the texture in the rocks. Fairly harmonious a painting. A conversation with some folks, and I am thinking they might buy it. But doesn’t happen and that’s all right. They take a card. Done, pack up and let’s, well…go to the car again.
Just before pulling away, I check in at the guard station, any chance someone turned in a brass nut and bolt found on the trail? No. But are you the painter from Russ's hometown? Why, yes, I am. Smile. Off I go.
I drive around and find ample photo opportunities. Remember, any of these scenes can now be realized in a painting now I am building a photo reference library. So that gives me a lot of hope. At the top of the peninsula is a lookout onto mountainous rocks and numerous sea lions and otters are having about. There is a tremendous barking and it makes me laugh. As Hamlet says, "meet it is I set it down": today, see sea lions and otters play, check.
I make my way to Whaler’s Cove, a lot more photos. There are signs posted Quiet, please, Harbor Seals' birthing place. Okay, that’s really cool. I can see four or five little ones and ma and pop, all lying about, sunning themselves on the beach below me. Wonder if they remembered their sunblock? Then I find a couple of trails and finally just hike for myself, no where I need to be. I realize I now am walking in the cypress that I just painted across a great expanse. I look for the otters in the kemp; yep, there they are. Again, cool.
Park closes by 7pm, I am hungry, and have seen a lot, so I am pleased to be doing only one painting today. Though I am thinking I might try to get, once again, to Earthbound Farm, plenty of light left.
But as I pull into camp, people are gathered, looking at the evolving solar eclipse that will be peaking in 30 minutes or so. Yeah, the light is darkening, like Twilight Zone; “Light thickens” as Lady M says in Macbeth. "Light thickens; and the crow makes wing to the rooky wood: Good things of day begin to droop and drowse; Whiles night's black agents to their prey do rouse." I hang out with everyone. They ask how the painting is going, so I have an impromptu exhibition, dozen or so pieces (it will be on my resume tomorrow: “solo exhibition in Carmel-by-the-Sea, May 2012”, umm, check).
Ready for a glass of wine and dinner. I fire up the grill. Meet the folks next to me in the camp; we chat about the area and sites to see. Tomorrow I am off to Santa Cruz, to paint as well as to audition for Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Artistic Director, Marco Barricelli, has been kind enough to agree to meet me, see a couple of monologues, for future consideration. Maybe another good day tomorrow.
“China Grove, ohhh, ohhh”