Ed Terpening says his favorite place to paint is as diverse and unpredictable as a Hollywood studio back lot.

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“Cypress Cove,” by Ed Terpening, 2009, oil, 8 x 10 in. Collection the artist

“Point Lobos has Hollywood drama,” says the San Francisco artist. “Around every corner is something different, like a back lot where around one corner is a street scene, around another Western, and so forth. At Point Lobos, there’s a great combination of so many different types of dramatic scenery — small beaches, pine forests, cypress trees clinging to rocks, dark green-blue water, sea lions, an old whaler’s cabin. I always run into other painters there.”

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Ed Terpening painting at Point Lobos, California, in May 2010

Point Lobos is a marine reserve that protects both the land and the surrounding sea of a peninsula located between Carmel and Big Sur on the California coast. It is a popular scuba diving spot and hiking area. Terpening says it takes him less than two hours to get to Point Lobos from his home in San Francisco, and although he paints there three or four times a year, the artist says the unpredictable weather in the area makes planning a trip there difficult.

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“High Key Seascape Study,” by Ed Terpening, 2009, oil, 8 x 10 in. Private collection

“The weatherman will say it will be sunny all day, and then it will be foggy all day,” Terpening says. “But Carmel has some fantastic galleries, so I can always just go over there if the weather is not cooperating.” The artist calls it “a place with very sharp edges,” and says he also admires ice plant, a colorful succulent found along the coast. He is fond of pointing out that the proper or full name of the location is Punta de los Lobos Marinos, or Sea Wolves Point, because of the sound of the sea lions that carries far inland. Terpening says he has long been familiar with Point Lobos, having grown up in Southern California, but painting it is a different story.

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“Rocks and Surf,” by Ed Terpening, 2007, oil on linen, 8 x 10 in. Collection the artist

“I don’t think I really appreciated it as much until I was a painter,” he explains. “When you paint, you are not hiking around. You stop to absorb it all; it’s an opportunity to just study it, and you capture the feel about the place. Once I painted at Point Lobos, I appreciated it in a much deeper way.”

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“Rocks and Surf Like Frosting,” by Ed Terpening, 2009, oil, 8 x 10 in. Private collection

This painting spot definitely demands Terpening’s attention — sometimes so much so that he could find himself in a bit of a bind. “The park closes just before sunset, and I didn’t realize that,” Terpening remembers. “I was painting the sunset and lost track of time. Then a park ranger came up and said, ‘Hey, we’re closed.’ I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize it — can I complete the painting?’ and he said, ‘OK — that’s actually a cool painting.’ He watched me finish and escorted me out.”

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