Sunday, April 7, 2013

Returning to Moss Landing



The second annual Plein Air convention is coming up in less than a week in Monterey, California. I will be giving the kick-off speech on Wednesday.

It will be an interesting return for me because I did an oil painting on location there over 30 years ago, before they called it "plein air painting." 

I found a painting spot in Moss Landing by a stillwater lagoon looking across to a set of old shacks. As I worked, an old woman in a flowered dress came out of the trailer, and hobbled over to me. She looked at my painting, and a faraway look came over her face. She said that author John Steinbeck used to come by here, and said that Mack and the Boys from his novel Cannery Row were real people who stayed in the very shacks I was painting.

I have a feeling the place has changed a bit since then, (Edit: I found the spot via Google Street View, and 30 years later, they've still got the same shacks and the same trailer). But I'll still be hunting around for interesting stories to document with my oils and watercolors, and I'll be inviting guests of the convention to join me on the hunt.

Here's the Plein Air Convention website. The event is mostly sold out, but I hear they're saving out a few places for walk-ins.


13 comments:

jeff jordan said...

GREAT painting, Jim. Really, what more can you hope for than to put a faraway look into somebody's eyes?

Kyler Dannels said...

Both this painting and the story of it are awesome.

Thanks for sharing, as always.

Megan Collins said...

I love the story! It was so nice of her to come over and talk with you. Those little stories are what ties everything together.

Terry Harrell said...

You might enjoy the book "Cannery Row, The History of John Steinbeck's Old Ocean View Avenue" by Michhael Kenneth Hemp. It has information and photos of the old days and the people there

Terry Harrell said...

You might also check out the Cannery Row Foundation.

Terry Harrell said...

You might also check out the cannery Row Foundation

Jeff Fennel said...

Hey Jim - I actually have a bit of a story about this very painting you did...I have a small print of it here in my studio that Marcy Muncie gave me! Have a great trip and a good time painting your old stomping grounds!

Katherine said...

You have blown me away 'stumbling' on such a famous place! Well, especially famous to me. Steinbeck is one of my top six favourite authors.
Lovely painting, too.
All the best for the convention.

Katherine said...

PS I suppose it was just called 'painting outdoors' then :-)

Irene Nelson said...

I'm sure Moss Landing has changed, but I think probably much less than many places.

If you're looking for places around the area and not just within Monterey itself, you might check out Spreckels and/or Fort Ord. Fort Ord is a little tricky in that the interesting bits are often a bit of a trek, and you need to heed the signs regarding unexploded ordinance, but it's a pretty neat area.

David J Teter said...

I love your painting and the story makes it even greater.
Is that the same trailer as in the painting 30 years later!?

James Gurney said...

David, don't know for sure if it's the same trailer, but I'll bet it is.

Thanks, Irene. The idea of unexploded ordnance makes me a little nervous, but I'm sure that's a beautiful area.

Katherine, yes, or "on the spot painting."

Jeff, that's an amazing story. There must be only a couple prints of that image.

Thanks, Jeff, Kyler, and Megan.

And Terry, thanks for those leads on the Cannery Row foundation.

mp said...

I love those paintings.