I went out to East Cape to see my friends Brent and Betty Heighton the other night and was impressed at the minimal beauty of the area. I really never spent much time out that way. Along with Jon Einersson, we drove out to Zakatitos, told bigger than life stories over dinner, margaritas and watched a fine sunset. The next day I just had to drive out there again and even further around to Cabo Pulmo and painted these plein air studies. The first painting is looking out over the cliffs of the Gordo Banks (famous fishing reef) where a shore fisherman is dwarfed by the scale of the place. It was the visual abstraction, compliments of the perspective, that interested me. Families of warm white, earth tone ochres and a ribbon of phthalo green blue is a combination particular to the Baja.
The second East Cape study ‘West of Gordo’ was a quick painting (only because I was kicked off the beach by a security guard as he explained some unnamed corporation owned the shores as far as the eye could see….and I was in the middle of nowhere; where did ‘HE’ come from?!) Punta Gordo is in the distance with the multicolored rocks leading the eye into the composition. The sea appeared deep cobalt blue; it happens in the morning when the sunlight is at an oblique angle otherwise the Sea of Cortes always appears psychedelic pythalo green.
One evening I was heading back to San Jose I came across a classic palapa on the cliffs of Gordo and had to fit the painting in before I lost the light. I was struck by the sunlight reflecting off the bay below and ‘hallowing’ the palapa. It all appeared somewhat other-world. It is daunting to paint the movement of the intense light reflected. In frustration I loaded up the canvas with vast amounts of titanium white and a little yellow ochre in hope to assimilate the dancing light….an attempt to have the paint texture and application suggest movement. The approach actually turned out to be a reasonable answer and I re-learned something about commitment. ‘Gordo Hacienda’
A Week Painting in Todos Santos Estuary
Todos Santos is one of my favorite plein air areas in the Baja. It offers everything from lush jungles, estuaries, deserts and miles of powerful surf driven Pacific beaches.
I went back to the La Poza Estuary where many of my ideas and paintings over the years have come from. In the morning the first light stretches across the beach
like sharp blades of hot gold. Below is the study I called ‘Estuary Morning’ is my attempt with paint what nature does with light….ambitious and arrogant yes; a poor imitation of what you would experience, but there you go.
I made another small study of the beach where the sandbar breaks when the estuary fills beyond capacity. I called the painting ‘Fresh and Salt’ as a tribute to one the natural miracles in the desert. There always seems to be a giant Palm watching over the ancient relationship. It was early in the morning and the color difference between the ocean and the fresh water lagoon was dramatic.
A Day in Los Barrilos
Further up the Sea of Cortes is a well known big game fishing village, Los Barrilos. It is also known for it’s thermal winds attracting windsurfers and kite boarders for years. In any event the ocean seems to be even a crazier green the further north you go in the Sea of Cortes. The sand is a lighter cream/gold which probably contributes to the color of the water. This painting ‘Los Barrilos Beach’ is a study of the minimal landscape I spoke of earlier in regard to the Baja. The dinky toy like vehicles and boats are again insignificant compared to the horizontal strength of the big beach. The foreground shallows lead the eye into the scene. I utilized broken color to suggest dimension, warm up front and receding cooler color close in hue. It is the subtle shifts that create the illusion of depth. I really like this study and may become a larger canvas in the future.
I’ll post more as they come off the paint box, adios amigo