– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –
Laurel Sherrie saw a great view in a newspaper — an eminently paintable view — and she decided to find it. The hitch was that it was along Highway 1 on the California coast near Big Sur — a stretch of road with few turnoffs and an insatiable demand for the driver’s attention. It’s curvy, and it’s a long way down to the mesmerizing ocean below.
Lead Image: “Big Sur, Edge of a Continent,” by Laurel Sherrie, 2016, oil, 36 x 36 in. Studio painting
Sherrie has a history with Big Sur. And a present. “I have loved Big Sur since my initial introduction to it back in 1969, when some friends and I took California Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles,” she says. “Now I live just south of it in San Luis Obispo County, and trips up the coast are fairly frequent, in many different weather conditions including rain, storms, fog, brilliant sun … and being stuck behind a long 18-wheeler that doesn’t belong on that two-lane, extremely narrow and very windy road! When I decided to do my best to really capture the spirit of the Big Sur landscape, there just happened to be an article in our local paper about bicycling Highway 1, and it featured a photo of a bicyclist in a great location.
“It was described as being located near one of the five remaining Big Sur drinking fountains — artfully crafted, stone drinking fountains built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1933 and 1937 during construction of the Carmel-San Simeon Highway. So on a dual-purpose trip, my husband and I and our two dogs took off on a day trip up the coast in search of the drinking fountains and this spot to paint. The drinking fountains are there, but are not obvious unless you know where to look for them. Our venture on Highway 1 involved a lot of looking and careful navigating of the curves and pull-offs, and a lot of going back and forth! We did find the fountains and this view of Big Creek Bridge from Gamboa Point, where we found a narrow place to pull off the road so I could set up my French easel — a heavenly perch above the crashing cliffs with a fantastic view.”