California – Oil on canvas – 32 x 51 inches.

Perhaps the title of this painting seems inaccurate. After all, the image many people have of California, especially those who have never been here, is one of beaches, Hollywood, palm trees, convertibles and sunny skies. When I painted this scene from the side of a hill years ago however, I was more interested in other visions of this state that has been my home for more than half of my life.

But that was then, and I haven’t returned since to the hillside to see what the view looks like now. Undoubtedly Route 160 still exists, and so does the power plant and, in the distance, the Antioch Bridge crossing the San Joaquin River. Without the slightest doubt, there are more cars on the freeway.

Perhaps the lunar landscape carved out by dirt bikes and ATVs in the center of the painting still exists. But California being California, I imagine the orange trees and everything else have all been plowed under and paved over with housing tracts and strip malls. Does a hillside still overlook the view? I wonder if I should return and paint it one more time.

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