SPARHAWK – Seascapes

This is Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California.

Night Flight

It’s a small stretch of raw, unearthly beauty. You take a two mile drive through perfumed forest of fern, bay, lavender, acacia… tracking the Big Sur River to a Pacific Ocean outlet. The sand is purple, the color pulled down from garnet in the dunes above the beach. Right at the water’s edge huge boulders loom their gold and green and black rock, crevassed by smashing wind and surf.

Big Sur River Meets the Pacific,
oil on linen

Sunset, the Dunes, Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach, Tide Pool Heading North

Welcome to an ancient

Pfeiffer Beach, Winter Storm


Pfeiffer Beach, Summer Sea Fog

Andrew Molera Park, Big Sur Sundown
oil on linen

Pfeiffer Beach, Crashing Boulders

19 thoughts on “SPARHAWK – Seascapes

    • Hugs back, how lovely of you, Lanier. Being in someone else’s gallery is worrisome and costly in my experience, and they’re not all very nice. I’ve discovered, going into my sixth year of my own Hawks Perch Gallery, that the freedom is enormous, the prices are my own to set and never out of reach (which may be incredibly dumb on my part) and I can do a good selling job to customers in front of me and describe my work. So after the long answer, the short answer is No other galleries. But I do sell and ship all over the world.
      Thanks so much for all these visits and comments! I am so pleased you like my work. If anything posted catches your eye send an email,, and if it’s still here I’ll give you a price. (All the prices are excellent). Thank you so very much, again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is a very interesting thought because I have always felt I’ve lived a dozen lives in this one without even wondering about what came before. Thank you so much for all you write.


  1. LOL..great comment Barbara! I started back up three years ago, and I have been trying to find the time to paint or draw in earnest. I have to say, some of the best advice I have ever had came from you today. Finding my path, and establishing a solid no-fear groundwork is my next goal. I would greatly relish the opportunity to talk with you again Barbara, if you ever find your way to San Jose (no pun intended). I appreciate your words of encouragement, and look forward to slapping some paint on the easel tonight!


    • You’re welcome for everything, Howard. And I’m delighted to hear you’re newly inspired. I don’t know if I’ll be heading north, but feel free to email me. I’ll be interested in how the new work goes for you.


  2. I think classes would be a great idea! Once you get going, think about a class for those of us who have never put brush to paper/canvas. Terror comes to mind at the thought.


  3. The best thing, other than this interchange, would have been next to you both at Hawksperch to hear your initial conversation. Thank you for letting the rest of us learn.
    Barbara, me thinks there is a book for you to write about this topic.
    It’s always a pleasure…


    • This is no doubt the famous Big Sur photographer, B Nelson, How lovely of you. And funny you should write this because what I started thinking after speaking with Howard in the gallery and here, and many other visitors previously about painting, is that I may start holding classes, and I am making a list of what may be of interest, like portrait painting. Maybe also painting billboards and murals, pen and ink drawing, illustration, landscapes. What do you think? I sure have the room for it here, and after all these years may have some useful answers to questions being asked by artists.


  4. That is an incredible help! It is always on my mind, when starting a new painting, to display a mood or set a scene. I have understood all of what you wrote, the difficulty is in the application and, I must admit, fear of the unknown. Its the letting ones’ self go that seems to be the difficult part for me. There is always a certain comfort in a regimented and programmed style, but no freedom of inspiration. This has always been an issue for me. I was always the kid who asked “why”, needing to find the answers, when I should be asking “why not” as the adult.
    Art has helped me understand the value of opinion. Not just in subject choice or color choice, but choice in the choosing subjects, design, and look of a finished idea. Its that lack of boundaries that I need to re-discover. My rendering is considered good, but its the fear of creativity that holds me back. It wasn’t always there. Career, family and lack of time have done their part to hide it, and the constant list of “other things” seems to grow by the day. I have only recently begun to paint and draw again. I will copy and print your above reply to me, and tape it to my easel. I could not have had any better advice given, at a more opportune time. Thank you Barbara. I look forward to speaking with you again soon as well.


    • Hoorah!
      The unknown, Howard, is all we really have despite the most arduous planning. The unknown is cause for celebration. Trust yourself.
      And bless your heart, you made my day.
      Stay in touch.


  5. Hey Barbara! It was really nice to meet you this weekend (Saturday). I showed up around 2 pm, my name is Howard, I was there with my wife Laurie. Thank you for the inspirational talk, it is always a pleasure sharing things with established artist like yourself. I can show you what I have worked on in the past, but I never keep my originals around long enough to archive them.
    I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, and I look forward to seeing you again in the future.


    • Hello, Howard. Great to hear from you. Interestingly enough I have been thinking about our conversation, puzzling through the concerns you expressed about challenges in painting, particularly portraits. And I think I figured out a problem you may be unnecessarily making for yourself and it is this: The palette one prepares for painting is not so much a guide as an array of available basic tools. The pigment laid out is not a rigid formula. Indeed, in and of itself it almost has nothing to do with the painting at hand any more than a hammer and saw will design a house to be built.
      What needs focusing on is observation. All the color you picked up in my portrait of Chris Borgen came from your careful looking. All those colors are in the human face. And they are there for a reason. Blood courses through our bodies to reveal and cast particular color depending on the closeness of the flow to the surface of skin, or depth. Or what it glows through… such as the blue tones of a man’s beard line because of underlying hair, or the abundance of blue blood vessels and veins under an eye, or the fullness of a fatty eyelid which allows for very little visible substrata. You are overly focused on the right color to use, as an abstraction, I think. And it is a bad way to paint, though it is the process most all painters must work through to get to a new place of understanding. The very subject of painting flesh is a complexity and challenge that has occupied painters since the process began. But achieving what you wish comes with continual doing and experiment, based on intense observation. I learn stunning things, to me, with every new painting. Some one thing that painfully eluded me before, becomes clear.
      With human faces, consideration of the bone structure is critical. That is, the skull pushes flesh covering the face at the cheekbone, the jaw, the nose, the brow. What is it that happens to the vibrant covering of skin when it is thinned by the push of bone and cartilage. Or when it is relaxed in the cavity of the eye or hollow of the cheek.The same considerations of course apply to the rest of the human body, at the knee and elbow, the shoulder. The ankle and foot are a wild place of ins and outs.
      I wrote a bit here on The Art of Looking that might offer some useful tools. Increased skill with painting comes from really arduous looking, observing, investigation. What is learned can be applied to landscapes and plant life as well. The more you do, the more you will tuck under your belt for the next canvas and increase your facility, and lessen the struggle. Trust me on that. It eventually gets assimilated and there will be new challenges but not a steady repetition of the old ones, as your skill develops.
      There are plenty of schools that will provide a formula for painting faces but you will never learn any more than the formula, and I would strongly advise anyone genuinely interested in painting not to go that boring route. Making a recognizable face is about the lowest point on the bar. What an artist wants is the connection of life, character, expression, mood. Lay out the basic form, then stop and ask yourself, who is this person. What is his relationship to the things around him. What is his thought process at the moment that captured you in the first place.
      And be forewarned, the work ahead is not easy, but the challenge will thrill the painter. The expression on a face is in every square inch, not just the eyes, or the mouth, but in all parts working in concert. You are dealing with the whole in any case, no matter what you tackle, and not in parts.
      I hope this helps some, and look forward to speaking with you again.


      • These observations borne of a lifetime of experience are incredibly perceptive. I get goosebumps when a top-notch artist such as yourself shares such intimate and hard-fought insights. Have you ever thought about publishing essays or nonfiction?


        • I just had a birthday and can’t imagine how I lived this long with so much more to go! It is really lovely of you to give me so much praise, it does me a world of good to know I’m connecting with the work I do and words I write. More to publish, so much to say, thank you for this encouragement.


  6. Delighted to hear from you, Bette. Looking forward to our meeting. If you can figure out how to do it and would like to post your exquisite photograph here, please do so. I think everyone in the world should see it.


  7. Barbara,
    I see you like Pfeiffer Beach as much as I do. Have been trying to contact you re: your generous offer of selling my photo. Looking forward to talking to you about the BigSurKate photo of the photographers on Pfeiffer Beach &amp.
    Would be happy to meet you at your gallery or where ever would be convenient for you.
    Many thanks,


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