August 31, 2019

Jack Creek
Jack Creek Vineyards, off Highway 46  (oil on 8 by 14 inch canvas)

Not exactly sure when I first really noticed the many beautiful vistas on Highway 46 going west from Paso Robles (101) straight through to Highway 1 and the ocean. This little jewel view is not exactly on 46, but it is just off the highway and I certainly count it as part of a lovely landscape journey you could take from Paso to the beach. Over the years I have explored many of the roads that go either north or south of 46. I should add here that there is another side to 46. And it goes east from Paso (101), changes to 41 at about Shandon, and then ends at the 5. (I have done a number of paintings, mostly vineyards, of that east stretch of the highway and plan to revisit that road with you in a near future post.) Highway 46 (west) used to be a beloved secret that took you past farms and golden safflower covered hills on your way to the ocean. Now those same hills and roads are covered with vineyards and wineries. And it’s a popular place to go wine tasting. Don’t get me wrong, I love the vineyards and the wine tasting. It’s a fun thing to do and I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Central CA.

I found this inspiring landscape when I chanced to turn off onto Jack Creek Road where I found myself at the Jack Creek vineyards you see here. I must confess, however, that this composition is a compilation of three images/colors that I mashed together for the overall bucolic scene. The sky, vineyards, tree and out buildings were original to that time and place. And there were cattle on the land that day, but they were all crowded around a shady fence area with none of them daring to venture out onto the hot and sunny field. Because I didn’t really see the “cattle in the field” I was looking for that day I later drove down River Road in search of cooperative cattle in a field. The two critters you see here were part of another herd closer to town. The third element of the image I altered/enhanced was a made up golden wheat color that surrounds the cattle, adding a foreground contrast to the far away vineyard. (Maybe it’s my homage to the fields you used go past before the grapes moved in.)

In previous posts I have described/shared many pieces of my art, using various mediums, from Paso Robles. My son and I lived in Paso from summer 1995 to summer 2003 and I spent countless hours in my studio at home, painting from photos I took all around the north county. (My son was pretty young then and I didn’t have the luxury of plopping down in the dirt to plein air paint or draw anything.) In the 2 plus years of One California Girl posts I have written about my love for the many vineyards and fields I saw during our time there. And many of the images I have painted over the years were from Highway 46, and/or roads going west and east of Paso Robles. I also continued to paint these views (from photos) even after we left Paso and moved to Grass Valley. During those years I could have painted plein air because my parents could have helped with my son, but then I was over 300 miles away from my beloved 46. For those of you who have never been here, California is a big busy state, so nothing is really nearby anything or anyone, for that matter. I say this because even though something or someone appears to be near you on a map, the frequent and inexplicable traffic keeps many of us from the people and places we might want to visit in a reasonable amount of time. But for those of you who are interested in taking a virtual tour of the other 9 west side paintings I have posted since I started this blog (on 3/25/2017), check out the archives of One California Girl for the following posts:

3/25/2017 Morro Rock in the distance (Oil on canvas)

8/12/2017 Hay bales (Oil on birch panel, part one of two)

3/3/2018 Two Oaks and a Vineyard (Oil on canvas)

3/10/2018 Peachy Canyon vineyard and tasting room, on the corner of Highway 46 and Bethel Road (Acrylic on six foot wall paper panel)

9/1/2018 Bonnie Doon Vineyard (Oil on small canvas)

9/29/18 Heart Mountain, before the grapes (Watercolor and Prismacolor colored pencil on illustration board)

1/19/2019 Hay bales with Oak (Oil on birch panel, second in pair from 8/12/2017)

3/31/2019 Peachy Canyon Oaks (Oil on canvas)

5/11/2019 Zenaida Cellars (Watercolor and Prismacolor colored pencil on illustration board)

I mentioned Highway 1 earlier, and that is the final destination of Highway 46 going west. If you turn left (south) you will find yourself in Cayucos and then Morro Bay. Turn right (north) and you will find yourself in Cambria and then San Simeon. I mention all of these beach towns because they are kind of what’s left of a quintessential CA beach town, and each spot still has some of what’s left of the old communities. And except for San Simeon, large homes have been built in all of these towns, filling in the areas between them. I like all the beach towns I have mentioned here just fine, but am particularly fond of San Simeon because there aren’t huge homes, or even small homes there. San Simeon is home to Hearst Castle, a few motels, food places and camping–that’s it. I still love traveling north from Cambria to San Simeon because it has changed very little since I was little and we visited Hearst Castle. We didn’t camp there when we were kids, but I did take my son camping there a couple times. If you can catch just the right weather the camping is great. But it can be cold and windy, even during the summer months. Best to visit San Simeon during the fall. 

A Final note about Highway 1 and the Central Coast

If you ever find yourself with some time and don’t mind a windy road, the trip north on Highway 1 from San Simeon is pretty spectacular. Plan to stop in Big Sur and then on to Monterey and/or Carmel. I think over the years I have often said that that would be my recommendation of a place not to be missed if you come to CA only once in your life. Seriously, forget any other place someone might suggest to you. Forget San Fransisco, San Diego, Yosemite, the Napa Valley or Disneyland. (Yes, I said to forget Disneyland…) Hands down, Highway 1 and San Simeon, Big Sur/Monterey would be my top California destination recommendation. No kidding!

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