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Take it from the Trail!

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

As I have often shared, inspiration for my compositions usually comes from the simple experience of hiking around some of the gorgeous scenery Sonoma County has to offer. Today, I’d like to share the coastal location behind not just one, but four of my paintings.

It was spring 2018, and I had just been commissioned to create a piece for Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa. To prepare for this big undertaking, I joined a wildflower hiking group led by a naturalist to educate myself on the flora I was intending to capture. I was still somewhat of a newcomer to Sonoma County, so many of the group’s destinations were places I had never explored. The Kortum trail in particular became my first hike along the coast.

On my first experience on the Kortum trail, the weather was anything but calm and clear. In fact, it was so windy and foggy that the shore and its horizon were hardly visible. It was quite a demonstration of the ocean’s dangerous power. But I also witnessed the gentleness of nature in the magnificent display of tiny wildflowers, splashing color over the rocky hills.

I learned about many different kinds of flowers that day, about the significance of the well-loved trail, and about Bill Kortum, for whom the trail is named after. Bill was a pioneering figure in the Sonoma County environmental movement, advocating for public access to and preservation of Sonoma’s open spaces. It is because of his untiring efforts that Californians like us can continue to freely enjoy the beauty of the coast.

My commission for Kaiser was completed in the winter of 2018, depicting a group of large poppies with a view from the Jenner Headlands in the background. But my experiences with the coast were hardly over. The Kortum Trail has since become one of my favorite hiking locations and an abundant source of inspiration. However, when the pandemic hit, all trails were closed and it was no longer possible to even visit the beaches. Missing the scenic views, fresh air, and of course, the wildflowers, I decided to recreate a scene from one of my favorite spots—a bluff overlooking Shell Beach. This became Living on the Edge I and II (2020).

"Living on the Edge I" (R) and "Living on the Edge II" (L) - Santa Rosa, CA

Bloom with a View followed the next year, also featuring the Sonoma coast but from a more northern spot in the Jenner Headlands. This composition was one of my largest works but has become a favorite among my clients for its panoramic oceanic view, enchanting quail, Douglas irises, and of course, California’s signature poppies.

"Bloom with a View" - San Diego, CA (L) and Santa Rosa (R)

In October 2021, as the world began to open up post-Covid, I was finally able to hike the northernmost section of the Kortum trail up to Blind Beach. I decided the location made a very worthy subject for another composition. Spring has Sprung features the breathtaking view of land and sea one experiences when gazing out from the bluffs over the beach, with California poppies sunning themselves in the grass and Goat Rock in the background. Bringing out the liveliness of the sea foam and the myriad of hues in both sand and sea was a challenge, but I think my viewers will be refreshed by this latest addition to my coastal compositions.

Nature’s glory may be impossible to fully render, but I’m very blessed to have these unique views in my own backyard which provide a constant stimulant for creativity.

"Spring has Sprung" on the easel!

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