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Monday, November 21, 2011

Scouting with a Camera

Trina and I have made our way to Carmel, California, for a week of exploration.  We last came to the area thirteen years ago.  This time, we've come with the intention of scouting for plein air painting spots.  I might want to set up a painting retreat here for myself and other painters.  (Stay tuned!)

We drove up from the south along California Highway 1.  This is one of the most scenic routes in the country, and as we found, one of the most harrowing in a rainstorm.  Between San Simeon and Big Sur, we had heavy rain and small rock slides.  Rocks the size of cinderblocks bounced into our lane, forcing us to swerve around them.  (And yes, into oncoming traffic!)  In a few places, the road was one-lane-only and controlled by traffic signals because of "slip outs" that had occured recently.  At one slip out, we were stopped by a light where we had a steep cliff on our left and a torrent rushing along the roadside to our right.  I wondered how fast that torrent had to run to undermine what pavement was left and to send us all hurtling 600 feet down to the Pacific.  That stop light seemed to stay red forever.

The storm that we went though on Highway 1

Now that we're safely in Carmel, I'm looking forward to scouting.  But I'm doing so only with a camera.  Although I threw the pastel gear into the car at the last minute, I don't think I'll paint.  Sometimes scouting with a camera is better, so long as you're using your "painter's eye" while taking photos.  One of our cameras has a GPS built into it, so that'll be handy for finding the good spots next time we're here in full painting regalia.

By the way, even though I'm on the road, my studio painting sale continues.  I'm posting sketches and demos daily.  If you would, please check it out at my studio store -


Carolyn Jean Thompson said...

A Carmel painting retreat sounds wonderful. I would love to attend. I wonder what season you will choose. As a native Californian, early fall is wonderful - after tourists are gone, summer fog is less or gone. You may want to explore Carmel Valley too. Way back in the canyon is a retreat that opens to guests in the summer(run by a Monestary) called Tassajara. Scuba diving shops and organizations will know of gorgeous coves and beaches, too.

David Westerfield said...

I was last in Carmel about 15 years ago and knew I wanted to get back someday to paint. Look forward to hearing about your retreat idea.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Hi Carolyn and David - Thanks for your comments! Carolyn, yes, probably early fall. If you both would send me your e-mail addresses, I can add you to my "interested" list.

Sharlette White said...

Last year I took my mom on a trip to Montana, but before we came home, we drove to Washington and came down Hwy 101 to California. Then a few months later we went to Monterey, CA and we drove around Carmel! Beautiful country side. I have enough reference photos to paint a lifetime. Just havent had time. But I'll get there.

While we traveled for a month, my mom picked up a booklet at a truck stop called Roomsavers. We were able to get fantastic deals on a room every night. Just thought I would share that with you if you're traveling alot.

Making A Mark said...

Oh - cameras with built-in GPS - sounds a great idea (Thinks - did I ever get to end of reading the manual on mine? Have I got it already?)

I did that drive along Highway 1 in reverse - north to south - from San Francisco to San Diego and was fogbound in the northern section and didn't start getting the great views until I was beyond the Bixbyt Bridge - see Friday 28th July: Driving down Big Sur - at last!

One of the best places to go to near Carmel is Point Lobos.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Sharlette, for the tip, and Katherine, for sharing your blog!