Familiar Signs and New Inspirations

As I’m sure you’ve all noticed it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new here on my blog.  I’ve been working hard for my upcoming show at New Masters Gallery which starts in October.  It seems like a ways off but sure seems to be approaching quickly. While preparing for this show I had a mini creative block.  These never feel good and I always wonder how long it’s going to last.  It’s a bit unnerving to have this with a major show on the horizon. So last week I took off for a couple of days to the northern California coast around Mendocino to get inspired.  It’s an area I haven’t visited for years.

As I made my way up Highway 1 a few familiar, but not welcomed, signs appeared. “Private Property, Keep Out”, Private Property, Do Not Enter”. I can’t tell you how many countless miles of beautiful California coast line have these unwelcoming signs attached to miles of fences sometimes “barbed”, many of which not only block the access to the coast but the view entirely.  Oh how I desire to experience what the early California painters experienced as they searched for locations to paint.  Fences were far and few between.  I’m sure they had the freedom to paint wherever they desired unencumbered by nasty signs and miles of unwelcoming fences. In our overly litigious society these days are far behind us.  It’s unfortunate that these views can only be enjoyed by landowners fortunate enough to own such beautiful property.  I’ve come across a few of these landowners and must say that there’s a few willing to open up there properties to allow others to share in their blessings. But I’ve also met others who want nothing to do with you, they simply want you out and to be left alone, meanwhile those views are wasted on the selfish. I’ve had these experiences not only along the coast but throughout California.  Whenever property owners invite us onto their property we must remember to be thankful for these opportunities and to be respectful.  These opportunities are becoming fewer and fewer.

OK, enough of my rant. After all, I did have a good time.

I arrived in Mendocino in the early evening and decided to continue my drive north towards Fort Bragg.  This was a scouting trip, not a trip be used to paint on location.  My desire was to see as much as I could and to take as many reference photos has I could. To be inspired by many different locations. As I drove north, the skies had those high thin clouds that just kill light.  I was able to get a few good shots north of Fort Bragg but hoped for better weather by dawn.

Dawn did not usher in better weather.  For the most part it was clear, but there was a thin strip of high thin clouds right where the sun was rising, not good.  If the sun rose just a few degrees to the north or to the south it would’ve been great. This cloud seemed to follow the sunrise for the next 2 hours as I drove south. But things would improve, I finally reached a section of coastline that was bathed in light, YES!    I even reached a portion of the coast towards Fort Ross that had some great low fog that created amazing filtered light. I worked my way further south into Bodega Bay and the coastline of the Sonoma County coast.

It turned out to be a very inspiring road trip.  My goal over the coming days and weeks is to create paintings that may be viewed in my upcoming show at New Masters Gallery.  These painting will consist of not only the coastline that I witnessed but the moods and feelings I experienced along the way. Landscapes that may not actually exist, but images that take us all back to memories we’ve all had enjoying the beautiful California coast.

And by the way, my mini creative block seems to be gone.  I know it’ll return someday, it always does.  When it does it’ll be time to hit the road once again.

This is one of studio paintings from this trip.

20 x 16, Oil on Linen

Sonoma County Coast, 20 x 16, Oil on Linen

If you have any stories of fences and the dreaded “Keep Out” signage I would like to hear it, feel free to post it on the comment portion of my blog


5 thoughts on “Familiar Signs and New Inspirations

  1. That’s sad about the fences. Some people live in fear especially out in the country. I suspect you are a little like me and always want to see what is over the next brow these fences can cause us a lot of frustration. Good luck with the coming show.

  2. Hi Kevin,

    Your experiences with signs and fences reminds me of what I found here in upstate NY. When I moved here from Florida, I thought, “wow, to be where the Hudson River School painters were…”
    One of my early trips was to Lake George, just north of Albany. As I arrived there, I suddenly discovered the urban fence… a parking meter. As I drove around the southern portion of the lake, occasionally finding a beautiful view from the road, alas, I could not find a spot to park. I worried about bringing all of my art supplies, easels, etc out to a vantage point, only to have to return to feed the meter.

    I found a park, campsite of sorts. They turned me away, but pointed me to a beach up the road. Oh well.

    I found the small beach with a crowded dock, it had a great view of the lake looking north, and after checking with the teenage lifeguards, they said I could bring my easel out there.

    But once I dragged everything out of the car and began to set up on the dock, one lifeguard asked, “are you a resident?”. “A resident of what?”. Sorry, residents only, he said.

    I packed up, once again, and being thoroughly disgusted, I decided to drive up Prospect Mountain, maybe for a vista view painting. As I made my way up the mountain, I came to… a toll booth of sorts with another teenage girl in the hut. $7 to enter. “I bet you don’t take credit cards, do you?”.

    2 1/2 hours of driving, packed vacationers surrounding the lake, feeding parking meters, and private beaches. I gave up and went home.

    As I drove home, one thought entered my mind… “I bet Frederick Church didn’t have to go though this crap.”


    • Hey Peter,

      Thanks for the story, it sounds so familiar. There was a group of us that got kicked out of a Napa Valley vineyard by the same gentleman who actually invited us in the first place, It was very odd to say the least. It was actually the 3rd time in one day that we were kicked out of an area in Napa Valley. The first time we were actually on public property painting a group of barns when the owner of the property tried to kick us off public property. They were not pleased to find paintings of their property selling in local galleries while they received nothing. I guess being blessed in having a such great piece of property was enough.


  3. I havent been kicked out but the favorite haunts around my part of MN are being developed into over priced homes (well just cause I cant afford them:>) I had a perfect spot for all seasons we have here looking 3 miles to the east – Wisconsin boarder that was always promising but now has a huge house on it, but to make it easier they own german shorthair pointers which makes it ok…… I know many people around my parts, especially Marc Hanson who has many of these runs ins before cant paint here, Taos being one – I was there last year for the OPA national. I have been so little on time that I dont get out and paint much any more, I take photos and make my own reality of them in studio!!!!


    Ben Bauer

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