At one point or another we all have a favorite place, it can be one that we have all to our own or a place we share with others. Since childhood I always had always a place I called mine, from the one under the staircase I claimed as a child, to the 120 square foot cottage that I had build in the backyard of our first house and which served as my graphic design studio. When we sold our home and I lost my cottage, we had moved into a larger house, one with a downstairs guest bedroom and its private bathroom became my new office space, the one the wife refers to as the dungeon because it is located at the lower level of our house.
Yet there is also place I feel in love with when I took a drive to discover what was there on the back roads where we now live. The location is less then two miles away and in these past eleven years I have watched closely the changing seasons upon this geographical location.
There is really nothing special about this section of land that is surrounded by rolling hills and where a two-way road cuts through its right side and runs along the base of several hills, a road that is traveled by those seeking a short cut to Martinez or Pleasant Hill.
Earlier this year I drove by this magical field every Friday in order to attend my history of modern art class and depending on when I left the house, I would usually stop off, park the car, and take a number of photographs to record the weekly progress of the land reacting to the changing months and the weather.
In the previous years the field would be covered by the end of May in a sea of tall rich golden yellow muster flowers but this year, due to an unusual heat wave in January and February, along with a sever case of a drought, the plants rose to no more than two feet and never really matured into that ocean of yellow.
My Favorite Field in Spring
O/C, March 2002, 11 x 14 (27.94 x 35.56 cm)
Throughout the years I have painted this spot from various viewpoints. Either in early spring just as the ground broke open with the year’s new growth, to when the area was covered in full-grown muster flower, as well as when the plants were cut down and only dried bleach yellow stubbles remained.
Even when the land revealed its darker side after it had been plowed under; there was a beauty I found just as irresistible when the muster plants in all there flowering glory, stood tall.
My Favorite Field Turned to Gold by the Summers Sun
O/C, August 2008, 8 x 10 (20.32 x 25.40 cm)
However anytime I wish to cover another vantage point of this field I must locate an entrée area, since all the land along the road is sealed off with barbwire. When I do jump over a fence at a firebreak line, I need to keep my eyes open for any roaming cattle grazing, which includes possible snakes and depending upon the season, the blood sucking ticks.
Still I will return when ever the mood strikes and the light is right for more photographs from which I can draw upon for another painting, considering I can never stay long enough as I am trespassing on land owned by the water department and leased to the local cattlemen. It is rather a sad statement because I remove nothing from the land and I leave nothing behind, all I wish to do is enjoy its beauty and paint what I am experiencing so that others might enjoy what I have seen when they look at my paintings.
As we near the end of summer and are closing in on late autumn, when the land will have been scorched brutally by the sun, I can only hope that with mid winter and the coming of spring, the clouds will return to darken the sky and unleash the angel’s tears upon the soil so that we can see once more the earth covered in an ocean of yellow.