Monthly Painting - Davenport Landing 2013 to 2014

June 2014

Here it is, the last of 12 paintings - what a wonderful experience, but also bittersweet.  This last month my husband Dennis was able to accompany me and sit in a deck chair and enjoy some sunshine and ocean air.  He had been very ill with cancer and later in 2014 he was to die from the disease.  But at the time we didn't know that was going to happen and really enjoyed our day together on a more normal feeling day.  Plein air painting does teach us many lessons - life and light are fleeting, so take advantage of both to the maximum.

May 2014

Springtime and wildflowers!  Birds, bees and butterflies going crazy in the profusion of flowers and grasses - even this Artist wanted to take flight with them it was so delightful!  As I couldn't sprout wings, I decided the next best thing was to include lots of flowers in my May painting.  Month #11 of my 12 month series.  What a gift this place is - and I would only have discovered some of its special secrets by being here month after month through a whole year of seasons, weather and my own personal emotions along the way. 

I painted with Skip Andreae and Judith Brock this month - each of us with our own special interpretation of the flowers,  beach scene and the wind whipped ocean.  One more month to go!  So come back in 30 days to see the final painting of this series.  Thanks for visiting!

April 2014

Month #10 at Davenport Landing Beach - Wow, the time is flying by for this monthly site.  I got down there on Sunday April 27 - fantastic weather too with wildflowers blooming in profusion along the beach front and along the road as I drove to my plein air painting spot at 11.30am.  I brought a small sandwich for lunch.  I set up my easel at the same spot as I did in March - a great location with a picnic table and bench with a view of the whole beach and bluff.  Here is the scene...

A brisk wind was blowing and a family had a long tailed kite flying in the breeze.  I painted on my own this month and really enjoyed the experience of being back at the beach and painting again.  I thanked the Art Goddess for bringing art into my life so many years ago.  It never disappoints me and I always return refreshed and with a renewed enjoyment of life, no matter what is happening.  I'll be back next month for month #11 of my 12 month Challenge to paint at this same spot every month for a year! 

March 2014

March 23, 2014 - A Sunday morning at 11am found me back at the beach for my March painting.  My friend Skip Andreae was there to meet me - the beach parking was completely full of surfer cars and others enjoying a sunny Sunday morning in March.  Only in California! 

Spring is here, no doubt about it.  The bare brown hillsides have suddenly turned a gorgeous green, and the mustard weed flowers are a bright yellow.  I was badly in need of a healing powers of some plein air painting.  The past month has been very difficult - My spouse had been in hospital for weeks and still needs more care going forward before being able to come home.  Art making is wonderful for taking us away from our troubles for a while and brightening our hearts and minds.

This month we decided to try a different spot - we found an ideally situated picnic table on a rise which gave us an excellent view of the beach and ocean.  A trail beckoned invitingly on the bluff.  We set about our painting in the middle of a group of surfers.  Their colorful lingo was amusing and difficult to block out but was part of the experience that day. We were curious to know who "Bagel Bob" is - he sounds like quite the Dude.

We got an extra gift this month while painting - a group of about 6 or 8 Gray Whales come close to the beach - spouting and breaching - great excitement all around!  The surfers told me the whales come close to shore at this beach in order to scrape parasites and critters off their skins on a submerged shoal of rocks in that area.  A fabulous way to end month #9 at Davenport Landing Beach.  I'll be back at the end of April for month #10!

February 2014

Another month end and I'm back at the beach on a partially sunny and very windy afternoon for month #8 of my year long painting challenge.  My friend and fellow plein air painter, Skip Andreae joined me this month.  We walked to the south end of the beach to get closer to the action of wind surfers and gulls.  Due to the wind gusts, we had to really bury our tripod legs in the sand and anchor them down with our back packs. Only one wind surfer was out on the waves when we first arrived but as the afternoon worn on, more and more arrived.   Here is my February painting -  on a 10" x 10" panel this time for a change. 

The Abalone Farm at the beach had a sign up offering abalone for sale to the public.  I was tempted but decided not to get any.  Maybe another time... Abalone is super expensive and a rare delicacy that needs careful cooking.  Here is a photo of a four pawed easel visitor - cute little guy! 

January 2014

Month 7 of my 12 month Challenge is already here.  I got down to the Beach by 10am on Sunday January 26 - I wanted to do a morning painting for a change.  I also decided to walk all the way south on the beach to get a different perspective.  I painted by myself this month which is also a change.  All in all, very enjoyable on all counts! 

The weather continues to be unseasonably dry and warm.  We are now in a drought.  I decided to paint a larger panel than usual - 11" x 14" - a perfect size for plein air.  Changing the panel sizes is part of the deal in trying to keep things fresh and not get too stuck in one routine.  It was a beautiful if slightly overcast day when I arrived.  Lots of surfers with their long boards were enjoying the large waves.  Dogs ran and frolicked with driftwood sticks or pieces of kelp.  I think surfers and plein air painters are very similar in that we both share a passionate interest in what we do.  Our enjoyment is palpable to watch.

I set up my easel in the iceplant on the edge of the beach and set to working and playing with the paint. I painted happily for 2 hours and watched some great surfing in between brush strokes.  What a pleasure it was to hear the roaring of the surf - so load it was ear tingling at times. 

The light on the ocean and bluffs was sparkling, shimmering and constantly changing - the kind of detail one only notices after standing still and looking deeply for quite a while.  The reward of intense focus and being in the moment - the zen of plein air!

December 2013 - Davenport Landing Beach

When we arrived at the beach at 3pm on December 30, huge waves were rolling ashore in long muscular lines.  We had to compete for a parking space as surfers gathered in large numbers.  This was a big surf day - only serious surfers with "big guns" need come out to play.  It was a King Tide as well, so many beach goers were out with buckets gathering sea critters from the usually unreachable tide pools.

My painting buddy, Skip Andrea and I set up our plein air painting gear and set about capturing the scene.  As large waves broke offshore, a golden path of molten sea led from the western horizon to the shore.  My small 8" x 10" painting can be seen above.  Groups of people and their dogs were back lit by the setting sun.  Painting such a scene is tough on the eyes but worth it. We decided to take a Selfie midway though our painting time - see below.  Art buddies are the best!  This will make our 6th consecutive month at this same spot.  Half way through the 12 month challenge already.  Happy New Year 2014! 

Monthly Plein Air Challenge - November 2013 - Davenport Landing Beach

November 30 - On the last day of the month and at the end of the day I got down to the beach to do my Monthly Painting.  Five of my painting buddies from Santa Cruz Oil Painters also joined me at 3.00pm to paint the last rays of the sun and fog on a beautiful day.  Calm, no wind and a feeding frenzy of pelicans, gulls and seals just off shore for extra entertainment today.  Here is a photo of them all gorging themselves on anchovy bait fish...

I ended up doing 2 small paintings - the first one (see above) of the sea, fog and sun - the second one (see below) of the sunset glow on fog clouds - fantastic!  We should always paint at the late hour, not in the middle of the day - so much more inspiring and fun.  At this time of year, the sun was setting at 5pm and it got dark and much colder quickly.  Same time next month then.

Monthly Plein Air Challenge - October 2013 - Davenport Landing Beach

October 26 - Even though it was sunny and warm at my house in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the ocean fog was thick and cold at the beach.  I grabbed my fleece from the car and headed out to the beach for my monthly painting.   I had brought hot tea with me as well so I was all set. 

This month I decided to paint from the north side of the beach rather than in the middle - for a change of perspective.  There is a beach house right on the beach - it must have been built in the 1950s before the California Coastal Commission banned all coastal development.  I am personally grateful to them for keeping our coast mostly clear of development and open for the public to enjoy. 

An impressive number of seabirds of many kinds are still with us due to the anchovy feasts available in the cold waters.  Humpback whales have been seen very close to shore as well as dolphin.  I didn't see either of those sea mammals during today's painting session. The beach was strewn with thick ropes of kelp washed in by the tide and waves.  The distinctive aroma of rotting seaweed and the tang of salt air was carried on the breath of wind and fog.

Small groups of people with their dogs were enjoying the afternoon - one particularly eager young German Shepherd dog made me smile - it reminded me of my own Shepherd of years ago.  I still miss her.  Other less energetic dogs lay with their owners on a warm blanket, not too keen to get paws wet.  The fog rolled in getting thicker and thicker.  Luckily my painting was pretty much done at that point and I could pack up and get into my warm car.  The effort was worth it however - it always is.

Monthly Plein Air Painting Challenge
September 2013 
Davenport Landing Beach, California

Fall was in the air on Friday Sept. 20 when I set out to do my Monthly Plein Air Painting at Davenport Landing Beach.  A thick fog bank was just off shore when I started painting.  Having just returned from a lot of colorful scenery and painting in the Badlands of North Dakota, it took me a little while to adjust my eyes and mind to the subtle light and beauty of the understated.   Clearly this was going to be a very limited palette painting.   My friend and fellow artist, Skip Andreae joined me for the painting session which started at 3pm and ended around 5.30pm.

As I painted I kept an eye on the ocean - very calm today.  We have had a record number of humpback whales (almost 100 of them) visiting the Monterey Bay area during the post month due to vast schools of anchovies and other bait fish in the cold water off shore.  In addition to the whales, we have seen large flocks of many seabirds  - pelican, sooty shearwater gulls, even a few Blue Footed Boobies (albatross) from the sub-tropics  - all of them attracted to the feast of bait fish. 

The fog bank moved back and forth with occasional bursts of sun shine breaking through.  The grey sea and sky made the little bursts of color even more intense.

Davenport Landing Beach as the reputation of being a party beach on the weekend and while we painted we saw beach chairs being set up and lots of BBQ items being moved into position on one section of the beach for the festivities later on.  A bonfire was started just before we left for the day.

I'll be back in late October - will the winter storms have started by then?

August 2013 - Davenport Landing Beach, California

After not having painted for 2 weeks (due to my Studio being open to the public during Bonny Doon Studio Tour) I felt a little out of it and like a beginner again as I hauled my plein air painting gear to my spot on Davenport Landing Beach for month #2 of my monthly painting challenge.  My friend and fellow plein air painter, Skip Andreae was with me this month.  We set up our easels on a slight elevation above the beach area.  This spot gives a good view of the whole beach, cliffs, sea and sky – it is also well above the high water mark and any rogue waves that may come along during the painting session.

The weather was nice with hardly any wind at 3.30pm – another lucky break from the plein air weather goddess!  As I had painted the cliff area last month, this month I decided to do something different and try a figure – there were lots of models to pick from – people walking with children and dogs, surfers with their boards.  It wasn’t a big surf day by any means – just gentle waves coming in and swishing quietly on the shore. 

Lots of wildlife out and about.   Pelicans in formation flying North along the coast – looking for an evening snack on their way to roost for the night – a seal popped up in the glassy water from time to time.  We even saw some sooty shearwater gulls – they have arrived in huge flocks all the way from New Zealand to feed on sardines and other bait fish in our fabulous Monterey Bay waters.

My painting evolved into a surfer walking with board tucked under his arm along the surf line – not much action for him today but a relaxing time anyway.  This surf spot is only known to locals as the beach is hard to find off the main road.   I noticed that there is an Abalone Farm near this spot – I assume they sell to restaurants in the area.  A very expensive meal! But delicious! 

During our painting session, the fog bank crept closer and closer and created a dramatic sky.  By nightfall the fog and wind will descend on this beach  and make it a very different place.  Until next month then!


July 2013 - Davenport Landing Beach, California

This is the first month of my new plein air painting challenge to paint at the same location each month for a year.  Through a full year of seasons, weather and other assorted challenges.  The selected site is Davenport Landing Beach area in Northern California just North of Santa Cruz.

July 2013 - at 4pm at Davenport Landing Beach.  We had fog on the coast all day long - but it had mostly dissipated by the time I started painting - the wind was light and pleasant.  Davenport is known for fierce winds most of the year so it was a nice surprise to have such quiet air today.  I will enjoy it while it lasts!  The cliffs on either end of the beach were illuminated by the early evening light and some surfers where out and about on the waves.  I put a couple of small figures in my painting to help give a sense of size to the cliffs.  I used a palette knife for the cliff face as it gave the texture I was looking for.

I painted with a number of other artists from my painting group - we all enjoyed this lovely evening at the beach away from the heat inland.  I'll be back at this same spot in August.  I'm looking forward to it already!

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