I often get asked about the Salton Sea. Whether it is still there. Yes, but a little smaller. I am looking at a mid to dark blue sea as I write this, sitting at my dining room table (the view is better than the wall in front of my desk), which means it’s pretty breezy out there. I love the fact that I can tell the windspeed by the color of the sea, and that sometimes one half of it will be dark and the other light. That when there is no wind, it is the same color as the sky.
This morning I walked down to the shore, such as it is, now perhaps a half mile of what will eventually be salt flats – some of it dry enough to walk on, much of it not, so I can no longer go to the water’s edge without ending up up to my thighs in fish guano.
I took a photo of the ‘reflecting pool’, which when I moved here almost fifteen years ago was full of water up to the far side of that little row of vegetation in the front.
When I returned I wrote this:
Palm Springs to Yuma – not a hint of breeze,
the silence is so loud you’ll hear your heart
beat in your chest. Your breath will stop and start
as you behold the mirror Salton Sea’s
become on such a day. A piece of sky
stretched on the desert floor – cerulean rug
of knots so fine. And ’til a stop will tug
the air, that blessed earthly canopy,
and then that sea to ever deepening blue
then gray, then black with whitecapse, watch this glass
this polished surface thirty five miles vast
reflects the sky it lives under, to you.
On windless days, the Salton Sea shines most,
more than the oceans found on either coast.
Last night I guided a small group through a paint and wine class at Vanguard Gallery in Moreno Valley. One of my students had already taken classes with me, including the Absolute Beginners class and was happy to work through this painting of winter solstice sunrise across the Salton Sea to hone some of the skills.
We’re doing an underpainting to get rid of the white so in the final painting we’re not strugging with that aspect
We’re painting the sky part of the top coat
It’s easier to paint the bottom of the panel when it’s upside down.
I had heard that Bombay Beach is such a close-knit community, it’s one of the last places that you can let your kid run the streets in safety, but I had not realized it was becoming such an artists’ community. I guess they reach out to LA artists more than local ones…..
I have to say that this was one painting (or pair of paintings) executed under the most hostile of weathers. No, not so much heat, but the desiccating wind. I had to stop on the second morning and go back for a short session closer to dawn on the third day, and then it was a struggle. The good news is that once I’d drawn up the letters, I could quickly go from one side to the other, painting layers, knowing full well that that my start point would be completely dry by the time I returned to it in about 25 minutes. At the end of the second day I had to quit because the paint was drying on the brush. The east side of the boat was too hot to work, and the west side, in the shade and wind, I was shivering. And I still had to figure out how to spray with an acrylic glaze with the UV component – in a stiff breeze.
Nevertheless ‘Poseidon’ has its name on its sides and today will be test launched. Eventually this boat will carry a solar powered pump which will pump water from the Salton Sea into the marina ‘fingers’ in Desert Shores, to maintain the water level and mitigate red agae. Launch day is on Sunday.
I’m not usually an openly political person – this is something of a political posting, but more of an ecological item, not party politics. If you live anywhere in North or Central America, this could affect you.