At least it feels like I’m in a foreign country. I’m in Los Gatos, California for the Los Gatos Plein Air Festival. I got here Monday evening and am camped in the driveway of my host Elaine Seid. What a wonderful lady. She has been very gracious and helpful. So thankful she drew my name, or however they decide who hosts whom.
California is strange to say the least. We all know that, but Los Gatos is like I’m in a foreign country. They do speak english and they do drive on the right side of the road so I guess it could be worse but my gosh! The culture is very different than what I’m used to and I’ve had a very hard time getting oriented around town. A lot of wealth here. This is Dot Com country after all. Lot of people who think they are important, dressed well and driving fancy cars. I’m in my 2006 Explorer, outfitted to look like I’m on an adventure, which I am I guess.
The first day, Tuesday, I thought I’d get up into the hill country out of nearby Saratoga, and looked for wineries to paint some vineyards.I spent several hours lost on twisty, winding, narrow roads with traffic and no place to turn around much less pull off to get my bearings. The roadsides were closed in with trees overhanging. No views. When I saw a sign for a winery, it came up so fast I had to double back and try to get it on the second, sometimes third pass.
Most of the driveways up to the buildings were very steep and windy and for the most part, single lane. If a car was met, one of us had to look for someplace to pull over so the other could pass. Reminded me of some jeep trails in the mountains back home.
I finally found what I was looking for at the old Paul Masson winery which is now known as Mountain Vineyards. There were views, vineyards to paint and old buildings. I couldn’t access a lot of it unfortunately because they were getting ready for a John Mellencamp concert. Stage, lighting, bar tents, amphitheater seating. The works. Who knew. I had to stay at an upper parking lot but I did find a grand old tree standing guard on some vineyards.
I was soon asked to leave because they were going to start letting concert traffic in. That was fine. I was about done and I sure didn’t want to fight incoming traffic while I was headed downhill trying to get out of there.
The next day, Wednesday, I stayed more locally and spent the day at Varona local county park. It was a good choice as it was very spacious and relatively cool in the shade. Lots to paint. There is a large reservoir and lots of paddle boards, peddle boats, canoes etc. Very scenic. I was surprised at the number of people using it, especially since it was the middle of the week. Which brings up another point. There sure seems to be a lot of people with time on their hands. Folks of all ages. Young mothers with children to older retirees and grandparents with grandkids…and an artist.
Oops! Sorry about this last one. It came in sideways and I can’t seem to fix it. Ah. Technology. I’m obviously a better painter.
Today I stayed downtown. We were to paint in town for PR purposes for the event. That’s fine. It forced me to get away from what is easy and look for something still doable but different. I found it with a church.
I call this one, “Gateway to Heaven”, St Luke’s Episcopal Church. It is getting awful hot in the afternoons so I sought out a cool place for my second one, which happened to be a little courtyard on the side of the church. Perfect.
I had the place to myself and I found painting the statue of Christ rather peaceful. I titled it “Peace be unto you”. Seemed fitting.
Afterwards I found a park bench to while some time away. I was spent. It was hot and my feet hurt. Enough for today. I really enjoy people watching and this park bench in the shade was a perfect spot for it. But I didn’t dally too long as I was hungry and thirsty and the days end was upon me so I stopped at a cheap Mexican grill in a strip-mall near my host’s house.
I will say, that I’ve had a terrible time getting oriented. I found out part of the problem at the artist’s lunchen today. Talking with a local Rotary member, he said that none of the streets are laid out in a logical north/south or east/west grid. Didn’t say why but it gave me some relief knowing why I was having so much trouble. I’m just today getting to where I at least recognize some of the street names. My sense of directions are just way off.
Tomorrow is our last day to paint. I might try to go back out to the winery or maybe I’ll stay in town. I really like trying to paint the buildings, etc. I might get brave and try an actual street scene. But then again, they have buildings and vineyards out at the winery. Tomorrow night is the big reception and invited dignitaries for fine food, wine and a silent auction. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes. Saturday the event opens to the public in the town square. Everything is for sale. Payday. Wish me luck. I’ll report back and let you know how it went.