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Cerritos Beach, Baja

Happy New Year. I took a bit of a blogging break there. I’ve been busy with projects and a vacation down to Baja. I should probably comment on this crazy drought we’re having or this evenings blessed rain, but my head is still in vacation mode.

These watercolors are all from Cerritos Beach on the Pacific coast north of Cabo San Lucas. I was staying in a palapa on the beach, but there’s an upscale hotel, Hacienda Cerritos, on the bluff overlooking it. I’m not usually interested in resort architecture, but this one is done really well, with beautiful detailing, including hand-carved doors, carved stonework, colorful tiles, custom wrought-ironwork, a diaper pattern in the brick dome, and lots of other grand touches. I would describe it as tastefully ostentatious, if that makes sense. There’s a video tour if you click thru to their website, though I recommend first hitting mute because there’s an audio track that cheapens it. While I was painting in the courtyard I heard a few different groups of people go through, and everyone gave out some form of ‘wow’ as the entered the space.

Richmond Bay Trail Sketches

Last year I mentioned that I walk our dog, Carla, at the Richmond Bay Trail. For about two years now, I’ve gone there almost every week, often three or four times in a week. Lately, I’ve sometimes taken along a watercolor block to do a quick sketch while Carla waits with a surprising amount of patience, then I add watercolor at home. The main idea is just to find a composition and finish it quickly before Carla gets restless, but the real effect has been to deepen my appreciation of the San Francisco Bay. Such a great natural wonder to live near.

Wedding Ceremony Watercolor

A couple of weeks ago I went to a commitment ceremony for a couple of friends of ours at a redwood grove up in Guerneville. Since then, thanks to the Supreme Court decision, the commitment has become a marriage, which is as it should be. It was a very nice ceremony, but I’m not really a ceremony guy, so I sat towards the back and started this watercolor. Not my best effort, but I felt like posting it anyways. In recent years I’ve been to two weddings in churches and four weddings in redwood groves, a pretty clear expression of how Northern Californians feel about redwood trees.

Berkeley Rose Garden Watercolors

I’ve stopped at the Berkeley Rose Garden several times this year, first in February while everything was dormant, then a couple of times as the roses were starting to wake up, and once recently with everything in full bloom. The Rose Garden is a WPA project from 1937, a terraced amphitheatre with a 220 foot long pergola topped by climbing roses. A gardener friend recently said she’d never checked it out because she’s not a rose person, but the roses are only part of the appeal. I’m not a rose person either, but the pergola and the stonework and even the sadly culverted creek running beneath the terraces all have a classic 1930’s Berkeley style. One of the iconic Berkeley places.

The city says that the pergola was suggested by Bernard Maybeck, though someone else executed the actual design. It’s one of my favorites, and probably the one I would see in my head if I ever looked up the word pergola in my private mental dictionary.

Landscape Architecture Bicycle Tour

April is landscape architecture awareness month and landscape architects everywhere are raising awareness. Or perhaps more accurately, one landscape architect that I know, Anita, is raising awareness. She’s leading a bicycle tour of several landscape architecture projects in San Francisco on Sunday. Last year she was sick and I ended up leading the tour. I was a bit leery, but it turned out to be pretty fun and I recommend it to anyone who wants to bicycle around San Francisco for a few hours. We went to several projects, with the highlight at Levi’s Plaza, Lawrence Halprin’s masterpiece. My favorite ‘built’ landscape in the Bay Area, it blows me away every time I see it, and it was interesting to see a group of people experience it for the first time. Everyone got all smiley. After the tour, I went back a few times to take photos and do some watercolors. I love that big fountain.

Anita put up a post about the bike tour on the ASLA-NCC blog. Looks like Halprin’s work was again the highlight, Levi’s Plaza of course, but also the much maligned fountain at Justin Hermann Plaza. When I led the tour the previous year, everyone agreed at first that the fountain was pretty ugly to look at. But after we went into the fountain and experienced the water, we all had a completely different opinion, unanimously agreeing that the experience was fantastic.

Gone Camping

Happy New Year everyone. I’m off for a few weeks of camping in the mountains down in southern Arizona. Last year I made a resolution to spend more time drawing, and I actually followed through pretty well, better than I probably expected. This year I’m not sure what my resolution would be, maybe to explore a bit more. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of my leisure time re-visiting favorite places (such as Lover’s Leap, above), so this year it might be good to focus a bit more on places I’ve never been and fill in a few gaps in my personal map of the world. In which case a trip to Arizona is a good start. When I get back I should have some drawings and photos to post.

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