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On a recent trip to California for a TV show I painted Venice Beach, Sea Lions and a Blue Whale. I often paint Islands so Catalina Island was my first port of call. We took a helicopter trip over the island, went on a submarine then on a boat around past Lover’s cove and saw the sea lions. There were so many and they were so beautiful I painted the sea lions on the rocks and an individual I saw jumping out of the water. His shadow was reflected in a curve as he jumped, it was a magical moment.
I was so impressed that Catalina Island has set up a conservancy for the nature on the island and in the waters. The dramatic increase in number of sea lions is of concern to the scientists. “Over the last few seasons at CELP we have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of sea lions around Catalina Island. Where we used to see rafts of 3-6 sea lions thermo-regulating or swimming along the coast the number of individuals in the rafts has increased into the dozens of late with a couple rafts passing by containing 50-75 sea lions. This year has seen an unbelievable increase in the amount of sea lions stranded on main land beaches too most of which are small sea lion pups. Where last year Los Angeles County had 36 sea lions reported stranded on its beaches the beginning of this year has already seen over 400 stranded sea lions.” CELP, Catalina Environment Leadership Program.
I paint these animals, not only because they are gorgeous, but also to raise awareness of these environmental issues.
While in LA we also went to Venice Beach. I had been struggling with what to paint on the day of the film shoot. My son and I walked out onto one of the jetties, this amazing wave just came out of nowhere, as I looked back towards the beach and the houses viewing the back of the wave. I knew this was the scene I would paint for the show.
Mammoths at Long Beach
When I first went to LA in 1982, my father booked us into a hotel next to the La Brea Tar Pits. I remember looking out the window and being amazed that there were mammoths in what looked like a swamp below. Since then I have been very intrigued by the idea of Los Angeles in the Pleistocene age and how it changed from a forest teaming with wildlife, into the desert it is today. I began to imagine what their world must have looked like since then. When I was out on the pier at Long Beach and looked back at the land with the few palm trees I could see dotted among the apartment buildings I thought that the height of the buildings was probably the same as the forest that was once their and in my minds eye I would see the forest and the Mammoths on the beach.
The Columbian Mammoth is the only species of mammoth found in LA and was excavated in 1914. The more common American Mastodon also lived in Los Angeles during the Pleistocene age. Mastodons differ from mammoths by their smaller size and lower crowned ridged teeth. Mastodons in Rancho La Brea tend to be smaller than those found in other areas. There are the remains of 15 individuals and at least one baby in the Museum and excavations continue today.
Many scientists believe that these great creatures became extinct from over hunting, but there are 3 million bones in the La Brea Tar Pits Museum and none of them are human.
Mammoths at Long Beach has been brewing in my imagination for over 30 years. I hope you like the painting and that it does justice to these great creatures and the world they lived in up until 10,000 years ago.
I currently have 15 paintings available see the slide show below. Some of the paintings available for direct purchase from my online shop click here.