Gualala – Hands up who thought that might be a small settlement on another continent – or a drag name?
Well, it is actually a sweet, small town, located about one hundred and twenty miles north of San Francisco, in the so-called “Banana Belt” – a stretch of coast that generally benefits from sunnier summers, compared to neighboring, frequently fog-enshrouded, areas. We discovered it in 2013, and I loved painting there, and in local towns like Mendocino. So much so, that we will return this July. Materials have been ordered and I am counting down the days. My mother used to tell me that I always developed a fever before we went on holiday. Some things never change…
I discovered Hearn Gulch one afternoon by accident. It was out of the way and totally deserted. On our last day I was determined to return. We arrived to find a young man and woman at the far end of the beach enjoying the sunshine and seclusion. They were naked. Normally, I would have thought leave them in peace. But this wasn’t normal, this was MY LAST DAY! I marched on to the beach and set up my chair. The couple were about a 100 yards away but proceeded to put on some clothes. As I started to paint, Mark who was lying on a blanket next to me, bemoaned how we had ruined their idyll. His solution to making them feel comfortable again was to take off all his clothes. How strange we must have looked: he, lying naked at my side, me, looking like Whistler’s mother, upright in my fishing chair, not only fully dressed but legs draped in a towel to avoid sunburn. Anyway, his kind (?) strategy worked and the couple were soon naked again, eventually doing handstands in the surf. I just did my watercolors – a little sad in retrospect!
To see more paintings from this trip click here Northern California 2013