Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Windy Wullbrandt Way

Spent time this morning in the studio pretending to be a real artist working on a secret project. JC, Zorro and I finally climbed in the truck and made it down the mountain. The wind blowing through Wullbrandt Way was not only unpleasant but made it next to impossible to paint. I managed to sketch in the harbor seals before calling it quits. I want to thank Al Clark for sending some great photos of the seals some time back which I am using in the mural.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

For Purple Mountain Majesties...

Hail! Hail Freedonia! Groucho Marx in "Duck Soup"?

Shortly after posting yesterday, Casita Botello was pelted, no clobbered with hailstones.

And then some more hail. We made the right call, not going to paint a mural.

And then it was all over and Rincon Canyon sparkled in the late afternoon sun.

This morning I loaded our paints and ladders and drops back in the truck while JC fed the animals. Down the mountain, to the Post Office, Mom's, Bank, Post Office again before grabbing my favorite parking spot on Wullbrandt Way and snapped this shot:

And before I got started painting I snapped the next shot of Mina, Vera and Ray Goena following a fun chat about the "old days" and shared stories, some of which I can't share here, sorry. Mina remembered my Grandma Claudie (born here and never to be forgotten in this town) and her fantastic doll collection she started in my Grandpas shop on Linden across the street from "The Palms" and down the block from our mural.

When I finally climbed the ladder with some paint and a brush, Members of the "LLLLA" showed up.
(Little Leading Ladies Luncheon Association). Hi Mom! (center) Look what I can do!

And Yes, of course, I would love to have my picture taken painting the Purple Mountain Majesties.
This is a good time to tell you what my Mom always said to me as a kid when I had some crazy big idea, "Show me, don't tell me!" 
And so as the saying goes, "Be careful what you ask for Mom" 

My "Chalk Gallery" buds Liz and Duane (and "Superfans" from the start) invited my up the block for a cup of coffee. If you have not been to their gallery, you must go. Thank you fellow artists. This gave me a chance to stand back and see if my mountain colors matched the mountains behind town. Nailed it. Dioxazine Purple, Neutral Grey, White, Yellow Ochre and Raw Umber. Lightened it as it stretches back toward Santa Barbara and warmed it up as it came toward Carpinteria. Want to capture the feel of the mountains and their relationship to the crescent of sand we call WSB. Will leave the nooks and crannies to Google Earth although very tempted to paint in Oprah's house in Montecito, The Big Yellow House in Summerland (future post), and Joe's Cafe on State (the original one with the Perrys). LOL

JC arrived on Wullbrandt Way after walking Zorro over to Palm Ave. and back. Brought me a great tuna sandwich and asked if he could jump into the ocean with some blue paint. Smiles. 
"Go for it!
 Working with Cerulean Blue and Titanium White, he left the narrow strips of gesso that will be painted white for breaking waves and I came back in with some of the "mountain colors" to blend into the blue water for a subtle reflection. Also mixed some of the mountain color into the chromium oxide green with some Yellow Ochre and Cerulean Blue for the trees in the foreground to the right. Continually joining the colors together helps the painting to appear harmonious overall.

The day was filled once more with the faces of new and old friends. Following is a photo of a creation brought to the mural site today by a member of the LLLLA... see above...LOL. I think she is considering entering Gallery 855's "Faces" show and I'm all for it. See

Some folks came with cameras, some with compliments, all with smiles. A shout out to Gloria, Leland, and The Mural Committee Chairman Mr. Foster Markolf, of course. Matt Moore did a "drive by" and the Von's Babes did walk by's. Saw you scoot past, Martha Hickey.
Here are a couple shots emailed in from Andy:

Two unknown art critics. photo: AN

photo: AN
We knocked out several square feet of surf and sand and wandered into the Salt Marsh before the light began to fade. Then, out of the blue appeared "The Bag Lady" with her "Bag Partner" celebrating the passing of their "Bag Law". What a Day on Wullbrandt Way.
Good night Carpinteria.
Artfully, JW

Monday, February 27, 2012

grey skies, nothing but grey skies

Like most of you, I too did not receive an Oscar last night although we have had Carpinterians nominated in the past (miss you Dame Judith Anderson). And no, I was not "The Artist" at the 84th Academy Awards who did. I appreciated the Art Deco "old movie house" theme for the set design very much.
A few of you know that in the early 1980's, shortly after moving from Carpinteria to San Francisco, I created sets for a good number of shows in many venues and received the Bay Area Theater Critic's Circle Award for Best Set Design. Also I worked with my friend Steve Silver on his signature and long running spectacle "Beach Blanket Babylon" around the same time he did the set for an Academy Awards show (but my work never made it on stage in Hollywood). Not surprisingly many of my public murals are theatrically based in some way, including our very own "WSB" with a "center stage" and "proscenium arch" in mind and in a style which Josef Woodard (journalist/critic) once called "no-nonsense flamboyance"(SBNP/ Art Scene/ Art Review of my exhibit at Casa de la Guerra/ July 28, 2006). Love that line, thank you Mr. Woodard.

This may be helpful to those of you still challenged by my WSB "picture within a picture" composition. ( I'm still digging for the photo of me holding 2 Oscars on loan from Edith Head for a later post.) Also in the early 80's, The City of San Francisco commissioned me to create a mural only steps away from the SF Civic Center in "The Tenderloin", an area that had once been peppered with film studios, night clubs and small theaters. On the side of the 222 Club (site of the old "Blackhawk") I painted my version of the City's symbol which is the Pheonix rising from the flames. I painted a trompe l'oeil classical Greek revival facade that mimicked the surrounding structures, rising from the rubble (a nod to the "Great Quake of 1906") in a most theatrical way. Since we are part way through "WSB", I include a photo of "222" when it was 1/2 completed back in the early 80's. Painted in the Spring of the wettest year on record. 2012 may turn out to be the driest, however it is raining at the moment. Great for the forest, bad for mural painting.
"222" half way shot, 222 Hyde, SF, CA

Woke up to slight drizzle up here on Chismahoo Mountain. My bedroom is "the mural room" here at Casita del Botello. Surrounded by dark, naively painted panels of old Chismahoo and scenes of early Santa Barbara by Juan de Pacco in 1926 (more in future posts), I can peek through the multi paned century old windows down Rincon Canyon past the Point and see the dark grey clouds sweeping across the Santa Barbara Channel.
Window, Mural Room, Casita del Botello, Chismahoo

The road is still dry enough to drive down but no way I can paint if the wall is even "damp". Working with Acrylic Paint (water soluble) has it's advantages and disadvantages. The surface MUST BE DRY. I include a great web site here that will give you more info on murals than you could use, but will answer your many questions including "why are they not painting when there is a chance of showers?" < > . We ran out to offload paints and drops etc. from the back of the truck just in time. Here comes the rain.
Rincon Canyon, 2/27/12
Dogs, cats, cows and equine fed. Fire going in the old wood burning stove. Oatmeal please, JC.
This is going to give me chance to draw some of the images full scale on paper for transfer onto the wall once things have dried out. It also gives me time to describe here a little more about the "post card" central image of WSB. I have already painted the lifeguard tower loosely based on a photo by Rick Joy,  "Fourth of July at Carpinteria State Beach" that appeared in the Carpinteria Morning Rotary Club's 2008 Calendar. Thanks Rick Joy. One day last summer when I was photographing Main Beach I was pleased to notice that rainbow colored umbrellas were the most popular. Then on page 12 of CVN Jan. 5, 2012 there appeared a photo by Adam Caira of a lone rainbow colored umbrella subtitled "The first beach umbrella to shade a patch of city beach in 2012 bloomed early on New Year's Day..." Propinquity?
Most likely the post card we Carpinterians think of first is the one published in the late 70's by Casitas Hallmark Shop. This photo was taken by Carpinterian Virgil Cooper.
Back side of vintage postcard
Recently native Carpinterian Lou Panizzon (who grew up a few doors away from me on 8th St. and one block from our mural) took me to meet with Mr. Cooper, now a very young 94. I asked his permission to use his photo in our mural. Permission was graciously granted. I asked him how much he was paid for the photo. He donated it. I assured him I was following his lead. He spoke of knowing my Dad, Ernest, back when Mr. Cooper was helping to establish "The County Bank" where "Jack's Bagels" is now 1/2 block north of Wullbrandt Way. He had followed my career and was living in Mountain View, CA. when I did one of my largest public murals there (6,000 sq. ft. see future post). In his "WSB" photo sits a family of four near an umbrella down near "Jelly Bowl" with hand painted lettering "Carpinteria- World's Safest Beach". Scooting along in the background is the commuter boat returning from the oil platform.
Pannizon Family near Jelly Bowl by Virgil Cooper
Now try following this one: The Carp High Yearbook is called the "Chismahoo" (sound familiar?) In 1969 it's Editor was Silvia Echeveria (yep, Carp Beautiful Mural Committee Member and City Employee). Susie Christie and I worked with Silvia on the yearbook and the following year Susie and I became Co-Editors of "The Chismahoo". Still with me? Eventually Susie married Lou Panizzon, had a couple kids and posed for Virgil Cooper's postcard photo.
rough sketch for "WSB"

Also in our "Class of 70" was Matt Moore who is now my neighbor and fellow painter on Chismahoo Mountain. Got a surfboard in the mural for you Matt. Your logo was on the board in the rendering when it was approved by the ARB who approves City murals (and all signs) so it is not considered advertising!
MM logo on board from the beginning

To follow progress, go to "Older Posts", scroll to: "World's Safest Beach" at bottom for updated chronological shots.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blue skies, nothing but blue skies...

We took Zorro to the World's Safest Beach today!
After a morning of Saturday ranch chores and a leftover stir fry omelet, we made it to Wullbrandt Way just before Noon missing a delivery of Almond cake from Eric Nagelman. Before we were unloaded our fans were arriving, "Wuffie" was first. Woof! Woof!
Mixed Cerulean Blue and Titanium White for an overall base coat in the "post card" sky.  JC ran up the ladder and jumped into the sky with about 2 square feet of paint... The light blue was too deep... I added more white and he jumped back into the sky, left handed. Later a glaze of white will add atmosphere on the horizon. I have always called it Walt Disney Blue because it feels to me like it animates things. This same color is a good base for the reflected light (mirroring the sky)  in the salt marsh and along the water's edge blending into the wet sand at our feet. There will be a relationship between the neutral grey color of the wet stretch of sand where the shore birds scurry and the sidewalk along Wullbrandt Way.
Sitting there on the sidewalk, I was caught by surprise by Lowell Schyler who was one of my first best friends and lived a block down Walnut and was in my class from the beginning of school at Main School  across the street from my house and where my Dad Ernie Wullbrandt went to school also.
  Lots of "Beautiful" people came by and I will make no attempt  to list them all but I want to thank every one of them for their kind words of encouragement. Sitting on the sidewalk in the shade for a few hours painting wet sand in February has been....sobering. I began remembering this very spot from when I was a little kid. I would go with my Grandpa Clyde in the early evening from our house on Walnut Ave., out the back gate and through the Methodist (now Baptist) Church yard, down Sage to Cactus and through Dick Dailey Chevrolete car lot (now Wullbrandt Way), across Linden and over to Rexall Drugs where he would buy a bag of horhounds (a small sugar coated hard candy I grew to like). So the side walk I sat on today was very familiar territory. My personal safest beach from when I was a little kid growing up only a block away.
Yesterday I painted in the blue and green parts on the umbrella. Today, as the afternoon grew cooler, JC added the yellow, then the orange. It already reminds me of the whirling color wheel that appears on my apple computer screen just before it freezes.
Standing in the sun up against Robitailles Candy we warmed our hands and chatted with my cousin Jill (Wullbrandt) and her hubby Kent. Elizabeth from Chalk Gallery arrived in time to witness this blond woman in a sporty blue car whip off Linden (safely and legally) onto Wullbrandt Way to gift us with a mocha latte, then disappeared  on Cactus finishing our day with a flourish! (She sure looked familiar. I think I've seen her in the Coastal View more than once.)
Evidently a few more of you have been nudged onto this blogspot. Welcome aboard! Hope you enjoy the ride.

Living the Vida Local, the Wullbrandt Way. My Dad would have loved this! Thanks you guys.

Will close with a pic of my Dad and I tonight. Cool eh? I'm the one with the moustache btw.. LOL!

 Thursday and Friday.
Good morning loyal followers. Allow me to remind you that you can scroll down to older post and view time lapse shots that I continue to update when significant or visual progress is made on Wullbrandt Way. Thursday was spent drawing full scale. Again, many people came by for a look and a chat. Lots of people confess to be fellow artists in various degrees. Among the memorable ones was Diane who arrived on bicycle (as many do) and painted a watercolor of me painting the mural. Performance art!
Farmer's market brought more friends (Meredith, Emily and on and on) by for a look.  Thursday night I had dinner on the other side of the wall (Senor Frogs) and crashed at my Mom's a block away from the mural.
Friday morning was breakfast at Mom's and an early start on Wullbrandt Way. The first image to be painted was the lifeguard tower and I blocked in the MM surfboard. A parade of my loyal supporters offered coffee and treats (thanks Donna and Foster). As I begin painting the animals, it will feel increasingly like being on exhibit at the zoo. I miss not having my dog Zorro at my side and get my dog fix from "Wuffie", "Noel", "Boulder" and dozens of other new canine friends, most of whom love to lick.
I try to keep the Handicap parking space open and stop any flying paint when it is occupied. If the cones are there and the space is needed, I hope to notice and accommodate (just honk!).
 The new tenant on Wullbrandt Way kidnapped my Mom and I for lunch at PB&Jays. I had "The Carpinterian". Yummm..... Back to Wullbrandt Way... Great to see Mary Louise, Mrs. Walsh, Biff, Barbie, Alice, Silvia, Carl, Fong, Kenny, Betty, Elizabeth, Stefanie and on and on...I wont be accounting for all of the friends and visitors in future posts as there are too many and hate leaving people out which has already happened.
Before packing up, Barbara, my oldest friend and classmate ALL through school from kindergarten on, brought another old friend, Kathleen, to see the progress.  Kathleen is responsible for starting the seal watch at the seal sanctuary to which a major portion of WSB is dedicated. She approved of the story book rendering of her cause. Whew! Made it back up the mountain last night to the delight of our dogs and JC prepared a most delicious vegetable stir fry before I conked out. This morning I hope to get some more drawing done and if JC goes with me, I will have him block in some blue sky. This will be a welcome change to WSB considering the fog that is hanging around.
Remember to scroll down to older posts for updated progress photos.

Diane painting a postcard



Mom and I
Please scroll down to "older posts" or go down to "World's Safest Beach" for complete blog and photo updates.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Yesterday I sketched in one of the egrets, some salt marsh, the mountains, water's edge on main beach, horizon line and a harbor seal. Working with a carpenter's pencil on a long bamboo stick this went quickly. Most of my time was spent chatting with audience. I love monologues but a fun show with audience participation can't be beat! Reminds me of performing Magic.
Today I am working in the studio up here on Chismahoo blowing the individual images up on butcher paper for transfer. This process will allow me to capture some of the "story book" feeling of the rendering. Here is the original sketch that I am working from. Notice I eliminated one Pelican and replaced the Comoran with Dolphins in the final. Back to Senor Frogs tomorrow.
Thanks to you new followers! The feedback is a kick.
Artfully Yours, JW

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Good evening

Good evening,
Will make this short.
Sketched out about 1/6th of the mural today but when I went to take the photo at the end of the day, a shiny gold Cadillac swooped into the parking space the moment I removed the orange cones. For those followers who have noticed the mural faces a "handicap" parking space you will know why I did not ask the driver to move for my shot. I circled back before leaving town only to discover the gold Cadillac had no "handicap" permit. (where is the code enforcer.... ummmm what's her name?) LOL
Photo promised the Wullbrandt Way, tomorrow!

Scroll through "older posts" or down to "World's Safest Beach" for photo series of progress from the beginning.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whew! What a day!

Whew! What a day!
JC made breakfast (thanks for the fresh eggs Mac Brown).
Loaded art materials etc. in truck, hooked up the hay trailer (almost out of hay) and headed down Chismahoo and into town to get painting.
    Sooooooo many people stopped to talk again today. This being a holiday (President's Day) there were tons of folks in town. I think every one of them came by the mural for a chat!  As soon as JC and I got the lettering up people really started taking pictures. This pleased me not for my ego but as an indication that my design was working as planned: a "photo op".. This group of teenage girls with their Mom were treating their Grandmother to lunch for her birthday. I found myself at the center of their celebration interacting with the mural! Cameras clicking, what fun!
    Also seeming to work, at least when folks showed their children the rendering, is the friendly nature of the seals and birds. I want them to have a "story book" quality to them so kids will enjoy them.
Then of course Foster and Donna came by to show support as did my Mom and Barbara Young. Love you guys!
    One visitor was a graphic artist who seemed fascinated with the hand rendering aspect. We had an interesting conversation about the effects of the digital age on large format "art" most common in our environment like advertising and billboards etc.. How drawing large scale is now perceived as "unusual".
    So we got the "WSB" lettering on, grabbed a burrito at Oaxaca Fresh (Senor Frog is closed on Mondays) and back up Rincon Canyon to hook on to the hay trailer (now fully loaded, thanks Steve Todd). We slowly tugged 25 bales up Chismahoo as the sun was setting in that beautiful western vista we get to enjoy. Through the gates and up to the barn with the hay trailer. No bucking hay tonight, thank you.
Horses, cows, dogs and cats all glad to have us home and to be fed.
   I'm happy to sit down with a Corona and write this post to you dear followers.

Good intentions

Had every intention of heading down to paint yesterday but needed to drop off ATV for service and pick up our "back up" generator for the solar power  etc.. Living "off grid" has it's special tasks. Around sunset got some earth turned in the vegetable garden and fertilized.
Got up at 5 AM today, made coffee and projected the "World's Safest Beach" lettering onto butcher paper while it was still dark in the studio. Has taken some fiddling to get the line to fit into the 12' 4" space just right.  Not a sign painter here!
After feeding the 3 cats and 3 dogs, I took the dogs for their walk down Sulpher Creek and into the forest. Then poked around the vegetable garden before feeding the donkeys, horse, mule and cows all the time thinking about the mural and what would be realistic to get done on it today.
 The "drizzle" that was promised for last night did not materialize so I'm about to go out and repack the truck with my art supplies, grab a bowl of cereal and head down the mountain to Wullbrandt Way determined "World's Safest Beach" lettering gets painted today.  "Jean-Claude... you up and ready?"

Sunday, February 19, 2012