For a distinctive view, try painting from offshore, in a kayak.

For the fourth year, artist David Gallup has led a group of artists along some of the most dramatic coastlines in the United States.

Caves and other interesting rock structures offered motifs near Anacapa Island, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.

He leads them to Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of Southern California, where the best way to explore and see the wonders of this undeveloped area is by boat. The group of painters ride in a 45-foot dive boat with a masseuse on board — a luxury that is somewhat necessitated by the kayaking and hiking woven into the painting trip. This year, Gallup’s workshop was held September 8 through 12.

The decks of the Conception were filled with artists.

“I’ve enjoyed coming all four years and have made friends with artists who traveled from Alaska, New Mexico, Tennessee, Arizona, Colorado, and all over California to paint the islands,” says Marian Fortunati. “Each day many of us awake at dawn to enjoy and photograph and paint the glorious sunrise. We eat, laugh, paint, sing, and share ideas on the Conception. We also don our ever-so-lovely rubber suits, masks, and fins to snorkel or scuba and enjoy the amazing sights of orange garibaldi darting, curious sea lions coming up to investigate, red and yellow sea stars, and deep purple urchins along the sea walls. We explore the caves and arches all along the shore and stretch our muscles while kayaking across the bays.”

Participants in the Gallup workshop also painted from ashore.

Jennifer Moses serves as a second instructor on these trips. Fortunati says participants were attentive to her color-mixing demonstrations and in particular her methods for mixing grays.

Marian Fortunati demonstrates her paddling style in Channel Islands National Park.

Fortunati reports that participants eat well and sleep well in the boat’s bunks, and photographs suggest that wine is available in the evenings. Artists paint from the decks of the diving boat, from ashore, or from kayaks. Fortunati says the group has an interesting way of securing their kayaks so they can paint from a relatively still position.

Conception crew members Barron and Augie keep an eye on the artists.

“Over the last four years, painters have tried new ways to manage to paint successfully from this unique vantage point,” says Fortunati. “The most successful way we’ve all found has been to haul up long strands of seaweed over both sides of the kayak to act as soft anchors. The seaweed allows the kayak to go up and down as the waves pass under the kayak (as opposed to small anchors tried by some — almost ending in disaster) but keep the kayak from turning in the wrong direction or drifting away along with the current.” 

For more information, visit Gallup’s website.


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