“Cooper Street, Downtown Santa Cruz” • Oil • 16hx18w
The Affaire 2007
The painting “Cooper Street” was created for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History’s (MAH) outdoor art show entitled “The Plein Air Affaire” in 2007. As a participating artist, I was asked to paint landscapes around town and display them at the outdoor show along with my other works. The museum required the artists to bring their unpainted canvases to the museum to have an official MAH logo stamped onto them before setting out to paint for the show. So, between you and me, this painting has a collectible element to it. If you turn it over, it will have an official Museum of Art and History red stamp on it. The scarlet letters are rare because the museum has not hosted a plein air show in a very long time.
Standing on Cooper Street
I thought it was kind of funny to paint around the museum for its own show. The painting was produced on site at Cooper Street, between Pacific and Front Street in downtown Santa Cruz, CA. I stood under a tree in front of the brick octagon building where a very nice coffee shop called Lulu Carpenters resides. The steps the man is sitting on lead to the Museum of Art and History.
I set up my French easel and started the painting. Some people paint on site very fast and finish a painting in a day. I don’t. I set up for this painting at least two or three different days for two hours at a time. The first session is getting the composition down. In this case I played with the inorganic shapes and organic ones. The arch, the steps, the wall, the sidewalk, the trees, and the people were all considered.
“So Maybe I’ll See You There” (from the song, “Downtown” by Petula Clark)
When I stood and painted on location people came and went. Some people stopped to watch me paint for a while. Others were completely oblivious that I was painting the steps and sat right there while I was working. The man in the painting sat down to eat his sandwich during lunchtime. Lesson to be learned… you will end up in my painting if you sit in the middle of my composition while I’m painting it. I really like to add people to my landscapes. So, please, go ahead.
I didn’t want to paint him eating a sandwich, so I gave him a book to read instead. The next day, the same man passed by my easel on his way to the coffee shop to discover he had been immortalized in my painting. He was ok with it after the shock wore off.
The shoppers were added in another day. I wanted to compositionally break up the sidewalk. To render the motion of walking, I had to watch people walk, (out of the corner of my eye – it’s not polite to stare in public) while working on other parts of the painting.
Currently on Exhibit – again
At the time of this writing, “Cooper Street” is now exhibiting at Lulu Carpenters at the Octagon. Ironic, isn’t it? The site of the painting is a few feet from where it is being displayed. (Again, satisfying my sense of humor.) It will be there from November 25, 2014 to January 28, 2015. It is also featured in my book, “An Artist’s View of Santa Cruz.”