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John's Blog

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Monterey's Amazing Peninsula

It was 40 years ago that I left California to begin a new life in Texas. I had just been discharged from the Air Force, had been married for only seven months, and was about to see if I could make it as a freelance illustrator in Dallas. My wife was already there, so the non-stop drive from Los Angeles, in my little Datsun, didn't seem like a big deal.
I remember arriving in California. It was June 1968. An exciting, wonderful adventure was about to unfold. I had just graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. A few days earlier, gold bars had been attached to my ROTC uniform and I was to report for duty at SAMSO, the Space and Missile Systems Organization, in El Segundo. 
I was fortunate to get this assignment. Information Officer was the title and the responsibilities covered public and internal information...and community relations. Being an athlete and a wanna-be illustrator, California was the place for me. Attending Art Center College at night and competing with some of the best cyclists in the United States was a dream come true.
Climbing a hill during a Rose Bowl race...on right (PAA jersy)

Even though Air Force duties were structured, California represented freedom, sunny beaches, pretty girls, neat cars, carefree living, fun, and excitement. The Beach Boys seemed to express best the emotions I felt about the state. California was the place to be in the 60's...and I had made it. When I arrived it was sunny, it was beautiful, and I saw palm trees lining the streets.
Now, 40 years later, my wife and I returned. While making the drive down the coast on Highway 1 to our destination in Monterey, many of the same emotions and memories of 40 years ago swept over me. It was so good to be back. It was sunny, it was beautiful and palm trees still lined the streets.

Rapidly fluctuating light.  To paint or not to paint...that is the question

The beautiful Monterey coastline
Just waiting for the slightest crumb to be dropped

Now I was returning, not as an athlete, nor a wanna-be illustrator, but as a seasoned fine artist hoping to capture the "essence" of what makes California, California.
Our destination was the Jabberwock Inn in Monterey...a seven-room B&B up on a hill overlooking Monterey Bay. By the way, I seriously recommend staying at this Inn when you're visiting Monterey.

The Jabberwock Inn

View of Monterey Bay from the Jabberwock Inn

Painting at Fisherman's Wharf

Our base remained the same for all nine days. That's the way I like it. It takes time to really get the feeling of an area, and I'm not sure I did. Only time will tell as paintings are created from the trip.

Seals galore
The mysterious wilds of Point Lobos State Reserve

A solitary profession

The enticing Carmel valley

We took the famous 17-mile Monterey Peninsula drive which included, Pacific Grove, Carmel, and Pebble Beach... all awesomely beautiful. Another day was spent at the Point Lobos State Reserve, a magnificent area that at times can even be eerie in its wildness,  displaying a sense of other worldliness. We visited many Carmel art galleries. The place was packed with people the day we visited, and we had to park many blocks away from the town's core. Beautiful work in many of the galleries, but far and away my favorite gallery was the Dawson Cole. co-owned and designed by internationally renowned sculptor, Richard MacDonald, the gallery is a testament to his exquisite taste and genius.

The sketch
The painting in process

Other points of interest, and wonderful painting opportunities, were found in the Carmel Valley, the Fisherman's Wharf area of Monterey...and in the variety of street scenes and architecture found throughout the peninsula.

Fisherman's Wharf
The elegant Dawson Cole Gallery of sculptor Richard MacDonald

Beginnings of a Monterey street scene

Finally, when in Monterey, be sure to take in the Monterey Bay Aquarium...$35 bucks a head but worth it.

Scene from the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium

And now, it's back to the studio, hopefully to create some inspired works.

Upcoming Workshops
22-24 March 2013  -  Carthage, MO
26-28 April 2013  -  Oil Painting Workshop ($395.00) - "Deconstructing the Landscape"  -  Dot Courson Workshops, Pontotoc, MS  -  -
3-5 May 2013  -  Oil Painting Workshop ($425.00) - "Deconstructing the Landscape"  -  The Art School in Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA  -  -

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