Some days it’s crowded and difficult, but California painter Kim VanDerHoek knows where to go for her favorite painting views: Crystal Cove.
“Rambling Tide,” by Kim VanDerHoek, oil on canvas panel, 8 x 16 in. All images ©2013 Kim VanDerHoek.
Crystal Cove State Park, in Newport Beach, California, is just 20 minutes from VanDerHoek’s house. “I really like the variety of subject matter that’s there,” says the artist. “The historical district has cottages, some restored, some in disrepair. There are dramatic bluffs, and it’s rocky in some directions. Depending on the tide, the structure of the rocks will change. And the beach is always different. There are always people there, so you have figures to paint, and colorful umbrellas on the beach. It’s all in one small, compact area.”
“Quiet Day at the Cove,” by Kim VanDerHoek, oil on canvas panel, 11 x 14 in.
“Ramshackle Cottage in Red,” by Kim VanDerHoek, oil on canvas panel, 8 x 8 in.
Plein air painters who work out a deal with the Crystal Cove Store can show their work in that seaside retail establishment and get a parking pass that would otherwise cost $15 a day. A portion of the art sales goes to the Crystal Cove Alliance, which helps restore and maintain the beach community buildings and education programs.
Another view of Crystal Cove
“Seaside Wanderers,” by Kim VanDerHoek, oil on canvas panel, 9 x 12 in.
VanDerHoek says one can count on the light conditions regularly changing at that beach, with clouds moving in or clearing out over the course of the day. It can be a challenge — as can the crowds. “One Saturday in July last year, every time I would get started on a painting someone would put up a big umbrella or tent and block my view,” she recalls. “I changed my perspective probably five times before turning around and painting the buildings behind me.”
The scene upon which “Ramshackle Cottage in Red” was based
Crystal Cove, in Newport Beach, California
The sun is a factor that must be considered, too. The breeze off the ocean makes you forget how much sun you’re getting. “I’m always totally greased up in sunblock, and I wear a long-sleeve shirt and pants and a large hat,” says VanDerHoek. “And I use an umbrella.” This might all sound like a bit much, but think again. “Even if you have a lousy painting on the easel, you are still at the beach painting,” VanDerHoek reminds us. “A lousy day painting at the beach is still a day at the beach, listening to the waves.”