Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eaton Canyon

"Eaton Canyon Repose"
22" X 24" Oil on Canvas

At Christmas time I was visiting my parents in Pasadena and had the chance to run up to Eaton Canyon to take some reference photos. Eaton canyon is a great place to go and I've been doing that since I was a kid and raised 5 minutes from there. I think my first memory of the San Gabriel mountains was when my Dad took my brothers and I hiking in Eaton and up to Henneger Flats a few miles above the canyon. That was a hike and half because I was really very young when that happened.....maybe 10-11? Back in the 60's. Yes....they had hiking back then and no it wasn't because they hadn't invented the car yet.
I love Eaton in the evening because the light is intoxicating then. The mountain sides light up in pink and orange tones while the canyon floor goes into this wonderful shadowed look of various ochres, pale violets and crimson with great olive drab greens of the oak trees. All of that with these splashes of flaming yellows and oranges in the fall months. The Eaton color display and best's free!

There have been a lot of changes in there since I was a kid. The only thing they had there was a really simple indoor/outdoor nature center where I saw my first rattlesnake...stuffed of course. They used to have this cool series of pictures of a hiker who had been bitten by a rattler and you could see how bad the leg got as the time went by...awesome stuff for kids to see. Aside from that you just hiked around the canyon's riverbed and along it's walls. There was usually hardly anyone around that I remember. On a busy Saturday they might have 10 cars in the parking lot. I was almost run over by surprising a mule deer hiding in the bushes. That dude was hugh!!...well, when you are inches away from a frightened hopping mule deer it looks hugh...and smells gamey too.
Nowadays they have a brand new Nature Center...and indoor one with air conditioning and snack machines and a gift shop, hahaha. They have a nature walk with various plants and picnic tables. Joggers and power walkers abound cluttering up the trails. You see people there who have come by for a walk after going to dinner wearing very nice clothes. It's almost surreal at times and I always find myself wondering where did they all come from and why is every other one carrying a waterbottle. Do people seriously believe they are going to somehow run out of personal water or dehydrate from a simple hike at Eaton canyon??? I think people are watching too many fitness commercials. They even have the president doing it now at the podium. Whatever happened to a glass of ice water for the President as he gives a speech.
I took my daughters to hike up to Echo mountain a few years back and it was the same way...a million joggers, power walkers and even mountain bikers...pretty soon they will pave the trails up there because people will begin to complain of the wear and tear on their Nike, New Balance and Ugg shoes. There was a time getting up to the mountains was a way to enjoy some solitude. You have to hike back further now to do that. Sorry to gripe but I liked it back then when rustic meant dirty and people didn't dress up to just hike, hahaha, and's my Blog.
Well, here are some detail shots of the painting.


Maggie Latham said...

Ron, Hey what are you still doing up at midnight posting to your blog (lol)…

Your painting is much more photo-realism than your usual work.
I actually thought it was a photo at first enhanced by PS filters! It is really beautiful.

You’ve written a great piece about how things change over the years and how places become popular for various reasons. We have the same happening in the UK. Lands End (southern most tip of Cornwall) is now one huge parking lot with junk food eateries, gift shops selling cheap tat etc….you can’t even get out of your car to walk or look at the view without having to pay to park.
Commercialism gone mad if you ask me. It’s also like that on Marco Island in South Florida…years ago it was lovely before the huge high-rises and condos on the beach. And of course, Key West, Florida (don’t get me started)……As we were leaving KW to relocate back to the UK, there was talk of pulling down one of the best outside live music and watering holes…. the Schooner Wharf….and the adjacent trailer park to put up million dollar condos over looking the marina…condos that only the super rich could afford. No wonder all the old 'Conch' families and 'Islanders' of Bahamian decent are all selling up their little wooden conch homes and fleeing for new builds in North Florida. SORRY!!!!!…..your post just got me started!!!

I really love the painting and your story that goes with it. Special places from childhood really are the best places to paint…aren’t they?

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Maggie,
I'm a night time to paint, hahaha. I'm glad ytou like the painting. I wasn''t going for photo realism though. I know people who do that who would make me look like a jr high student hahaha.

That's not good hearing this stuff has spread! haha. I'm really sick of seeing the water bottles though. It's not like we live in the Gobi desert or suddenly all of the water in California is going to dry up while you're on your way to college class so you have to be prepared. I guess it is healthy for you but then why do the same people drink $4 latte's served in what looks like a cereal bowl!?...I don't get it.

Everyone goes to the canyon now but it is for excercise more than getting away with nature. I find it hard to enjoy a hike when some jogger goes flying past me with a stupid iPod going. Maybe one day a bear will come up behind him. The very last time I was there a couple came down the trail and the guy had on a sportscoat! Both drinking coffee from Starbucks. They looked like they were walking down Melrose Ave in LA while shopping and suddenly zapped into the canyon. Geesh! Eaton Canyon was always a special place so I cannot wait for it to go out of style!

I can totally understand the saga with developers. Developers and Lawyers will ruin this world, hahaha. They have watchdog groups in Santa Barbara trying to protect the last of the undeveloped land along the coast from developers who can't wait to bring the joy of coastal living to the affluent few.

Thanks for the comments Maggie.

Marian Fortunati said...

What a wonderful post with all of the stories from your memory of childhood and young(er) adulthood. It really does bring more meaning to a place doesn't it?

I too like Eaton Canyon although I have no history with it like you do... my first visit there was in a workshop with Calvin Liang... But I always enjoy going there.

Wonderful painting as always, Ron..

Suetois said...

I just came over from WC!, hoping that I'd be able to get a closer look at this painting. I'm so glad I could zoom in and see more detail. It's a wonderful painting! BTW, I completely agree with your comments about crowding and commercialization. Out here, the big thing is bicyclists in spandex. You can't just enjoy the experience because you have to keep a constant eye out to make sure you don't get hit. Plus, I miss the solitude. Northern Virginia is far, far more crowded than rural Wisconsin where I grew up. It's just about impossible to get away from everybody here. Sigh.


Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Marian-A workshop with Calvin! He's one of my favorite painters. Liang uses the best colors of any painter I think and his work always has that fresh look to it.

Hiking around the canyon when growing up was something we did because it was the closest part of the mountains we could get to. My younger brother and I used to walk up there from our house on Green St. to "go to the mountains". Very simple fun in those days. Thanks Marian for the comments....I envy you for that workshop! hahaha.

Hi Sue - Glad you like the painting too. One good thing about a blog is you can post a big image...something all artists enjoy...big images! We have bike paths along the road going up to Los Olivos and you'd think those idiots riding them don't realise the road was built for the car traffic, hahaha. I'm suprised no one has hit one yet.