Good Samaritans


       Oh America.  I’ve never in my life hated the mix of people here.

Here’s an odd and funny 9-11-2013 experience I had. . .

I think I mentioned that the Miata’s front bumper had popped loose and was kind of dangling, and I went into the shop down the block and asked them to look and the mechanic, one of two brothers who run the place, fixed it with a twistie baggie tie.  It’s held good as new for months! I was delighted, they wouldn’t take a cent.  I have to get the Miata smogged this month and was thinking well I’ll go back in there for it and give them some proper business.

Barbara’s Miata

[after being vandalized w/ a rock]

Over the past couple of days they’ve had a cyclone fence with signs erected around their gas station. They only do mechanic work and they never sold gas.  However, the gas tanks are being dug out of the ground. I suspect there’s some idiot California law that you can’t have an empty tank or hazard hysteria something. 

Well I saw them out this morning when I drove by, putting up tiny signs every couple of feet that declared, OPEN!! and you could hardly read them. I drove in and said, Hey…you need a sign! Give me a couple of hours. So I went to the gallery and made them one, painted a big piece of wood I had white, and blue letters, OPEN FOR BUSINESS, then AUTO. REPAIR. SMOG. and painted a nice picture of a pick-up truck on the bottom. I’d been working all morning on the blog and swept up in 9-11 reports and feelings. I brought the sign over to them. They loved it, they were so pleased and excited, I found the brother who fixed my bumper and put out my hand and shook his and said, Now we’re even.  It was lovely.  Happy moment.

Here’s the interesting thing, they’re a family of Sikhs. Turbans, beards and all. But flying a good-sized American flag on the wall outside their bays. Sweet guys.

Oh America.  I’ve never in my life hated the mix of people here, it was always what totally thrilled me about New York.  I’ve loved that exposure to a zillion cultures, food and smells and styles so different from my own experience.  I figure if you’ve lived any length of life or been anywhere or seen anything else you get an idea of how precious if imperfect this country is.  People hating America bothers me. I find it beyond understanding.

I’m really glad I told you about the experience I had with the Sikh garage mechanics, because Chapter Two unfolded today.

From the easel in the back of my gallery I saw one of the Sikhs walk by and halooed.  I went out, he had come to see Moses next door, who’s his friend; Moses was closed today. 

He said it’s slow, he’s been walking around the neighborhood visiting his neighbors. The Pizza guy, the restaurant guy.

I invited him in to see my work.  He thanked me again for the sign and said it was unusual for people to do things like that for each other. And that it had helped to bring him business. And could he have cards from me because people ask about the sign and really like the truck I painted on it.

I said, Well you fixed my bumper! and it was a great opportunity that I could repay you with the sign.

In fact another (professional) local sign maker did a big Open For Business sign for them too! What a neighborhood.  They’re having the old gas tanks removed from the ground, major dig, because California charges them $7,000 a year just to have them unused in the ground!!

I said, I have to get the car smogged later this month and I’ll come to your place and give you some real business.

Oh, I’ll do that now.  No charge.

Well, I looked at him: No you can’t do that.

Yes, I can.

No, it’s too much.

No, it’s not.  You brought us business.

I was almost in tears by now because this and the coming registration due in a week were weighing heavily on me.  I mean it has been slow. But I got him the paperwork and handed him the key and thanked him profusely and off he drove.

My God.  Imagine.

He drove back a bit later and said the car passed smog but it was close because it was a little smoky but it’s okay, and handed me the paperwork marked N/C.

Then he said, And by the way your rear brakes are shot but I didn’t know if you needed the car right away, if you have time I’ll do the brakes.

You can’t do that!

Yes, I can. No trouble no charge, don’t worry.  I want to do it.

That’s too much.

No no you brought us business.

But then tell me how much it costs so I can at least repay you at the end of the month.

Well it’s about 89 dollars for parts, but don’t worry, it’s not a problem.

(He was very firm and serious about this, that it really was okay by him.)

Would you like a painting? Is there a painting here you’d like?

I’m really floored by what’s been said, had no idea the brakes weren’t good but suspected so, and just so touched by all this and he’d admired my art work.

I’ll bring my wife back, she will pick a painting.

I don’t know if there’s enough gas in the car to even get you back! (I’m driving on fumes and a prayer.)

It’s okay, he said. I put gas in the tank. (Me–near a faint!).

All of this was pretty transporting and I’m not sure what happened next but I guess I gave him the key back again and off he went.  He returned at ten after 5 with everything fixed.

Promised to come back with his wife for a painting.

Oh John.  Such goodness in people.  All started with a baggie tie on my bumper, no charge.  A sign to help their business, no charge. The rest is history.

What a day.

Cradle of the Sun


This painting is a real treat.  I’ve kind of headed into it the way Trevor’s Treasure Island developed, more every day and in an odd direction.  With absolutely no foreground but rocks going into darkness I have all of a sudden added a chair and desk on the top of a peak, some kind of Greek ruins on a sandbar, a turquoise-lavender pool, stone gargoyles and seahorse, a writing desk, and steps…many steps.  I’ve decided to go with it, do not know what the hell I’m up to but up for the adventure.

It’s the sort of freedom I felt with your portrait which is a rare experience. Certainly possible with what you allowed, and unique in that only with historical portraits of my own devising have I ever moved into such a myriad of things.  Yours is the first portrait I let myself and you let myself do that with, and I am liberated from previous constraints as a result. 

It IS getting interesting.  I keep moving the waves and clouds around.  The very clouded sky reveals a reticent sun.  I’m calling it The Cradle of the Sun, or The Sun’s Cradle, which I find very exciting in and of itself and not sure what I’m up to.

The Cradle of the Sun

There’s a storm coming in from far away places ~~ sweeping up water, spray marking its path ~~ dark and fierce on a gentle cove.  Still visible inside fast-moving formations, the Sun is cradled by its cloudy banks. The golden strength hits boulders and quiet foreground pools which will be next to feel the crash of wind and sea. Large birds take frenzy flight. And a viewer’s ready chair says ”Come to me”… a kind of magic seating  … a match to the heady seascape beyond, and below, and around it.

Late Summer Arrives


We’ve had a cool summer on the central coast, only now beginning to break its grip, finally heating up. Big Sur south coast (Big Sur Kate) announced 84 degrees before dawn, and I envy that cozy kind of hot air. Carmel Valley isn’t matching it.

Carmel-by-the-Sea was jammed yesterday. Fog lifted, word is out. The ocean was going from turquoise to a deep ultramarine blue, brilliant white foam on the cresting waves that hit those cratered copper colored boulders along that stunning coastline. Down by Carmel River a long slim span of kelp just under the surface put a mystic shine on the blue. When you get closer you see the orange and brown sea creature dancing.

In that little sheltered, sand dune protected bay just a few feet from the ocean, a man in a big straw hat was practicing kayaking. Doing all the maneuvering, memorizing technique. His young daughter was inner tubed, laughing, weaving in dad’s wake.

Always curious to see tourists, which I once was. I wish it were not the case but Carmel fosters a kind of uneasy pretension, all that beauty and so few sure of themselves in it. Until you hit the beach and get carried by it. Thank God for nature and it’s power to connect with what’s real and discard what ain’t.

A friend in Yellowstone overheard a visitor who said, I’m comfortable in my own skin here. The friend’s been there for weeks now, photographing grizzly bears and wolf packs vying for fallen bison, and has amazing photographs (Oops John) of the incredible wild things that live out their dangerous lives within those acres and acres of flowered pastures and purple mountain majesties.

Enough time in wilderness we forget how we look, what needs fixing, the fugit of tempis, and all the stuff that doesn’t matter once our hearts and brains are on fire with the call of the wild. All that registers is, Oh my God, look where I am! The stuff dreams are made of.

Gardens have been delighted with the cooler weather, very good year for plants and flowers, no heat drooping anybody. I feel so bad for the drought-stricken mid west.

I heard a radio report on the weather in Fresno, I think they’re looking at 113 degrees today. But if you live in Fresno you expect it.

When I lived in Coarsegold and up above Bass Lake (5100 feet) we’d get some of those hot mountain top days making for spectacular sunsets.

Those hills around Yosemite are famous for flying saucers and UFO’s. You learn to take your new neighborhoods in stride. It’s always something.

Surfer, Sand, Sea


One of those brilliant bright days along the Pacific central coast, light the moreso with the play of clouds and skies going dark to to stark.

Alone on the beach, a desolate place of privacy and not easy access. There’s something nearby of civilization, a hose on hand to wash clear to salt and sand when ready; a house ramshackle or spectacular somewhere in the hill behind him. And he sits on a long ago wood deck that’s being absorbed back into the elements. He watches where he’s just done battle with the Pacific. Watching to see what he’s missing on shore, what’s lost and found, feeling the connecting in his flesh alive with the pounding he got, with the wind, with the sun.

Bed In Summer


Bed In Summer  by Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

 

Painting Holiday in Big Sur


Expressionist Painters Holiday in Big Sur, California!

Beginning April 2012.

Seven remarkable and stirring days among the exquisite redwood, fern, and purple sand beaches of heavenly Big Sur.  All inclusive: enchanting hotel rooms, three meals a day, transportation to and from airports and local guided tours. Open to painters who are interested in art with emotion, learning to break through the barriers that have made you feel distant to your work and the creative process.

There will additionally be instruction given in pen and ink sketching and its use for sharpening memory, leading to finished drawing technique.

Please leave a message here, or contact Barbara Sparhawk by email: hawk@hawksperch.com for details and scheduling your stay. 7-day, 6-night sessions are limited to four students only. Children under 18 may be accepted for instruction, but must have an accompanying parent. There will be be two of these week-long sessions a month from April 2012 through September. Guests of painters, not taking classes, are welcome with a reduced fee. Locals requiring no housing, only classes, will be charged for classes only. Please book your place well in advance.

It’s going to be intense, thrilling, and life-altering. You’re going to discover how to break through what has previously short circuited energy connecting your heart and soul to your brush filled hand.

 

Holycowgirl Expressionist Painters Holiday


More details to be announced shortly. I am starting up a Painters Holiday with some unbelievable delights. The sessions will be seven to ten days, guaranteed to stun the world and Big Sur.

We are in for a good time. This comes of making our own revolutions.

Happy Birthday America


The Hawks Perch, Big Sur

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA     We’re 235 years old today. The spirit of revolution is never far from our hearts. Nor should the men who were the first American politicians be who pledged their “lives, their liberty, and their sacred honor” on that declaration of independence from European tyrants. We need a long hard look for a single politician today with any honor much less sacred. Americans are good in a crisis and excellent at accomplishing the impossible. In due course we’ll throw the scoundrels out, drain the DC swamp, and continue changing the world for the better by example. The past decade has been an educational intro to cultures which need getting up to speed, discovering the enlightenment of human potential, individualism, and independence. We’re still a beacon. Happy Birthday sweet land of liberty, shine on.

BIG SUR SUMMER      We really are in the most spectacular Big Sur summer, enveloped in gorgeous sunny blue-skied air. The recent short rain set all the aromas loose again, the potent bay, sweet fern and jasmine, sharp acacia, and dark rich riverbank earth. There’s a waft of salt mixed in from the ocean.

Big Sur is in a sweet pocket of sun with fog and cloud banks just to the north and the south of us.

Bearded Iris, Big Sur Hillside

Sold a large painting yesterday,  “Wild Bearded Iris by Riverbank”, (shown), it’s headed north above San Francisco with a wonderful couple. They didn’t say a word for a good ten minutes, walking around the gallery, looking, looking in silence, then the woman stopped in front of a painting she’d kept returning to and out of dead quiet said, “It’s beautiful! It’s so beautiful!” and I swear I saw her heart leap.

There are more pleasures with my gallery than I can sometimes count and sometimes am barely aware of. One is the joy of connecting work I’ve done with a stranger. Good day. Business coming back, roads open, campers and thrilled travelers, and the air rife with the happiness of being alive.