Millerton Point is a beautiful beach maybe four miles from my porch in Point Reyes. Rarely would I see another person on it. Millerton Beach consists of pebbles and – I am guessing – rotten granite. It’s designation as a National Seashore ensures clean water. The overall effect was sparkly and atmospheric.
The town, Point Reyes Station, was a sleepy hamlet of 600 souls during the week. On weekends, it would swell to 10,000. Most visitors would come from San Francisco. I would hike and paint Monday through , leaving weekends to the tourists. I spent the downtime people-watching.
This is the abandoned trestle and dam over the irrigation canal alongside Laguntas Creek. I completed several pieces around this structure. Sometimes I would hike there with every intention of working but spend the day in idle contemplation. I was still trying to figure myself out by shedding my pretensions, reservations and inhibitions. Forty years of masks do not fall easily.
Living in the midst of a National Seashore made for my most daunting challenge. In comparison, finding suitable subjects was easy. I could walk out my door without a vehicle and access hundreds of miles of trails. Laguntas Creek started just behind my house, emptying into Tomales Bay. I painted this piece perched on an abandoned train trestle. I was fascinated that these two parallel bodies of water were two different colors. One was a creek and the other was an irrigation canal. Periodically, huge sturgeons would lazily swim up the creek. They look like dinosaurs. In Russia, their eggs are harvested for caviar. Birds and cows would wander by, curious what this silly human was doing.
On the same trail in Point Reyes as my last painting, I stopped to paint a little closer to the spooky forest. It was on my left. Point Reyes was puzzled together with the large dairy farms that supplied the Bay Area with milk and cheese since the area’s origins. The coastal grasses that fed the cows were amazing. In very little time, they grow until obscuring the trails in the park. The yellows, greens and reds undulated and vibrated like water and fire. My eyes have trouble with red and green colors (Deuteranopia). I find this condition liberating as a painter. My color choices derive from visual cues; emotion and reaction preceding work. I focus on relationships or how one color vibrates next to another.
This was my favorite trail in Point Reyes National Seashore. I would typically hike seven miles in before stopping and painting. I would arrive at home at night having easily covered 14 miles on foot in the course of the day.
Near the head of the trail, a small footbridge crossed a narrow inlet where leopard sharks could be seen following the tide. When not painting, I would prepare magic brownies and hike to the mouth of the estuary. I would catch and release the leopard sharks. Wrangling those beautiful animals was exhilarating yet sobering. Turning them on their backs would make them completely docile. The object was to not harm the fish or myself – especially the latter, given the seven-mile hike to help. This particular spot was gorgeous, with high grasses and a variety of wildlife. In the center was a small but dense forest. The foliage darkened the path considerably. It gave me the willies every time I crossed it. I always felt something lurked in that wood. It was always dark and I dreaded trespassing at dusk. Knowing my silliness did not keep me from quickening my pace.