Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cycling, Painting, and Flutes by the Sea

"Green Houses, Half Moon Bay"
14" x 10" watercolor

Bob and I just returned from five days on the San Mateo Coast in Half Moon Bay while Bob attended a master flute class, "Flutes by the Sea," sponsored by the San Francisco Flute Society. While he spent the day with several flute masters, most Julliard trained, and world class performers, I was free to do whatever I wanted. I brought my folding bicycle and my art supplies. There is a trail that runs along the Coast that provided nice views and benches to sit on.
The area is notorious for summer fog, and I saw sun only for an hour or two on a couple days. Temps were in the high 50s and very low 60s. Needless to say, this was quite a change from San Jose were the previous week we had a triple digit heat wave. On the first day I set out in the morning and completed two paintings. The top one was my second piece and my favorite, capturing the shapes and variety of the vegetation, the fog over the mountains, and the agriculture that is a big part of the economy along this coast. Half Moon Bay is known for it's production of pumpkins and has a big festival in the fall. I imagined that the green houses were there to start pumpkin plants.
"Summer Camp"
11" x 5" watercolor
The second piece I actually painted first to get myself warmed up, much like a musician. Several people where setting up an area on the beach that soon was being used by many children. I speculated this is summer camp. With the gloom of the fog, I got a bit heavy handed on this little piece. After my painting session, I rode to Pillar Point Harbor and treated myself to lunch at busy Barbara's Fishtrap, all cash, fresh fish. Some folks took my photo as I left. My art supplies are in the panniers on the back of my little folding bike.
I read in the paper about Sunset Pianos, a venture by a local musician to place a dozen pianos along the coast. I had seen one on my way to the harbor. The following day I headed south along the trail and located two of them. I sat down near this one and did a painting.  Notice the plastic. There is a weighted cover to place over the piano and signs encouraging you -- "Play the piano. Play for the Whales." Instructions tell you to leave a note in the log in the piano seat.
As I was painting, three women and a dog arrived and I asked if anyone could play. One recalled a simple tune from her childhood.  I was delighted with the unusual experience.

Opus II Sunset Piano
I'm not super happy with this piece, but it's given me some ideas.
"Play for the Whales"
14" x 10"watercolor
On Thursday evening, Viviana Guzman, master flutist and organizer of Flutes by the Sea, arranged for the group to perform around the piano for a documentary film being done on the pianos. Here you see the flutists in action. Bob is easy to spot, being the only male who chose to participate.
You can watch and listen to the video. It was fun to mingle with people who gathered impromptu wondering what was happening. I talked with Mauro who instigated Sunset Pianos, and he told me that the parks folks gave him back some of the pianos, but they allowed 7 to remain. When art meets government, interesting things happen.
On Wednesday, I sat in the fog and painted a few of the beautiful trees along the coast. I was not happy with my first attempt, so the next morning I painted this one in my room, away from the gloomy fog, so I could more easily imagine some color. I like to mix it on the paper for landscapes.


"Coastal Sentinels"
11" x 5" watercolor


CrimsonLeaves said...

What a great post, Mary! Love the photo of you too. I think I knew Bob played an instrument but I didn't realize it was the flute. My heart dropped at seeing the pianos outside. I realize they probably aren't high valued pianos, but still, I know that the weather isn't good for them! My favorite of these is the top piece as well, though I find all of them charming!

Mary Paquet said...

Sherri, it does seem strange to allow pianos to decay, but that is the intent of the artist. They were throw aways headed for the landfill. He says: "He's inviting some incredible bay area musicians to join him in bringing attention to the fragile state of the world's oceans, as well as the near extinction of the "personal" piano. Piano manufacturing has dwindled, and the neglect of acoustic pianos has caused thousands of them to end up in landfills. The "Twelve Pianos" project will focus the spotlight on two species with uncertain futures."

hmuxo said...

I love all of these paintings, Mary, but that first one caught my eye with all those gorgeous soft colors.
Beautiful work!!! and of course, I enjoy seeing all the photos...looks like you had a wonderful time.!!

Barbra Joan said...

Mary, I love this post , the paintings and I can't tell you how much Half Moon Bay holds memories for me.. I've been there at Pumpkin time too..and seeing a piano on the beach there doesn't surprise me at all..
I don't know how much it has changed since I went there many times. I can honestly say, that Half Moon Bay was a place that I always wanted to live ..
Your paintings are so lovely, I'm glad you had such a great time ..
hugs Barbra

Helen H Trachy said...

A great video Mary! A bunch of talented people and the setting is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your post. Always interesting stuff and your aquarellas are jewels. I fell in love with the top one right away. I'm more in acrylic these days but still dip in water colors.

Candy said...

Mary, I love "Greenhouses Half Moon Bay". The colors are lovely. I had never heard of the pianos. What a wonderful idea!

Mary Paquet said...

The pianos were there every so briefly, Candy, so I was lucky to see them and enjoy some music by the sea. Someday I want to do a better job on a piano by the sea.