Initially the main point of the tour was to concentrate on the visual richness and cultural challenge of California.
|By cultural challenge I mean that California -- Silicon Valley and its digital siege on reality, Hollywood and its celebrity culture, the emphasis on novelty, crass materialism, the seductive illusions and larger than life visions that California represents in the popular imagination -- can make the ideals that drive the Itinerant Artist Project (ideals which I consider unconventional but vital) feel irrelevant. It's not just ideals that the IAP tries to uphold, but a worldview, a way of valuing reality.
I should note that, over the years, California has been my best state for touring. And I happen to enjoy some of the various aspects of "California Culture" that sometimes worry me. I even have a website. But I also happen to find that grounded, intimate, actual, embodied interactions with specific people, places and materials are the beginning and the end of the search for meaning. They are absolute prerequisites for building or maintaining a society worth living in and a spiritually sustaining culture. And those are values, or actions, or modes of being in the world that contemporary mainstream culture increasingly does not make time for -- or actively undermines.
I had it in my mind that I'd get some press in California and use my tour to pose a modest critique of the virtual values of the social media age. Instead I arrived completely run down by my own tour (and by some mystery illness I'd been fighting since my 3rd day on the road), with no energy for anything beyond gentle walks, looking at birds, and sketching. Luckily I had a wonderfully friendly, interesting, and accommodating host in Belmont, CA, where this painting was done.
Most of my stops are 2-4 days long. In Belmont I had 4 days of R & R, and then 3 days of painting. This was one of 8 paintings I finished, a view of the Bay from the back deck.