Great Places to Paint: North California Coast
Week 1: North California Coast. Storms – no art!
I’d never tried to paint the sea en plein air, so had a hankering to give it a go. Off we headed, joining the coast at the southernmost part of Oregon before crossing into California. I’m not sure what I was thinking really, adding moving waves to the mix. As if changing light, wind, bugs and everything else isn’t enough of a challenge!
Disappointingly, it seems that we chose the stormiest winter they’d had for years. No painting. If you go, be prepared for winter wash-outs and mudslides closing off areas of the California Coast roads.
For people like me, that love rocky coastlines with waves crashing and tide pools full of anemones and other exciting creatures, here are a few places for you to check out. They are all easily accessible by vehicle and don’t involve long hikes carrying heavy art equipment. I would have LOVED to have painted them and certainly plan to go back to them:
Easy access, you can park right by the beach and there is a small fishing harbour just the other side of the headland. Why not visit?
Check your brakes before heading to Shelter Cove – there’s a monster hill that goes on FOREVER! You’ll need to give them a chance to cool once you get down the bottom. Easy parking once you’re down. Beware, you may think as I did, “yuck, I came all this way for this” as soon as you get down the hill, but explore just a little bit and you’ll be extremely happy that you made the effort. Shelter Cove has an annual plein air paint out.
Fort Bragg Glass Beach
Easy parking again, but a short walk once you’re out of the car. You could just paint right next to your vehicle if you just want to paint cars as there’s nothing to see but car park, but that’s not really my thing! When we were there it was a weekend and there were lots of people but it was still beautiful. If you’re into sea glass, don’t expect the beach to be made up of huge pieces – the glass is everywhere and it’s great, but it’s all small pieces. Some of the internet photos I saw before we went there were a little misleading.
A very popular spot with beautiful scenery. Mendocino is a lovely town with some great galleries to look in. The Mendocino Art Center holds an annual open paint-out, which I hope to enter at some point.
We waited out the stormy weather for as long as we could in a motel near Mendocino. Just as we decided that we couldn’t stay any longer and headed off, the sun came out and I missed to chance to do some painting. Typical!
I hope these photos inspire you to get out there and do some painting.