Cabrillo Surf


This piece is part of a small series of paintings done on a short trip on the coast of Northern California in late 2018. Temperate weather brought some marine layer fog in from late evening and through the night into late morning, allowing me a few afternoon hours of direct sunlight. This painting was done on one such afternoon, just before the fog rolled in for the evening.

Along this particular stretch of Highway 1, called Cabrillo Highway, the surf pounds away at cliffs that tower hundreds of feet directly out of the water. No beach, just the vast strength of the ocean slamming up against a solid rock face. I chose one such place to study in this piece, captivated by the somewhat odd perspective of looking down on the water and cliff face from the edge of the cliff. To the bottom right, we see where the cliff face in sunlight recedes into a sea cave of sorts, the warm tones of the sandstone in sunlight giving way to the cooler dampness of the rock and reflected light from the churning sea. In the center of the piece we also see a somewhat strange tide pool basin, the rock forming a nearly perfectly protected "bowl" of still, stagnant seawater that provided some nice color contrasts (and protection for intertidal life) from the kaleidoscope of moving water around it.

These spaces of sea, cliff, and the surrounding coastal hills have always held a special place in my heart. The variety of life supported here is staggering, you can feel it invigorating the very air. Steinbeck in The Log from the Sea of Cortez put it well: "...most of the mystical outcrying which is one of the most prized and used and desired reactions of our species is really the understanding and the attempt to say that man is related to the whole thing, related inextricably to all reality, known and unknowable... It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.