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The San Carlos Borroméo del Rio Carmelo Mission was founded at its present site in 1771 by Father Junipero Serra and was once the headquarters for the entire California mission system. For over 227 years, this mission has drawn many visitors and artists; and may be the most frequently described structure in California, whether it be with art or words. Many artists have drawn, photographed, painted, and carved it’s image. It’s location was selected by Father Serra in a magnificent area on the central California coast.
This photograph was one of twenty pictures that won a regional art contest at ArtistRising.com . It depicts the front side of the church at the mission.
Here is an interesting link from a university. The subject is “Water in Art”.
In the Impressionist Period, artists spent hours painting water. As the light changed during the day, so did the reflections and colors in the water. Van Gogh spent hours, all day, with his canvas and brushes, painting and repainting the changing colors of the water at the seaside. During this period in art history, the Impressionists looked at painting water in a scientific way, as they worked at learning how to blend colors to illuminate the picture, as a reflective effect.
At that time, this was not the standard teaching in art schools. Art schools preferred to teach the same methods of the past to art students advocating great detail and realism as the only art style to learn. They looked at the Impressionist painters as the “hippies” of that period and didn’t take them seriously. Art schools looked at these “renagades” as going down an unsuccessful path.
What they didn’t realize, or consider important, was that some of these “rogue” artists were experimenting with light and color in a scientific as well as artful style. They used water as their subject observing the effects of light on color wanting to duplicate that on canvas. In this process they continued to learn about color and how one color effects another.
Even the subject of “water” can hold different meanings among artists. Water can be viewed scientifically or purely asthetic. Civilizations have always looked at water as “life-giving”. Water has always been a very useful subject matter in this way because it is always important for artists to be able to express their ideas. This allows people to see there is always a new way of looking at things. Water is a popular subject because it can be very interesting artistically, scientifically, and so important to life in general. We can view it as romantic, dramatic, serene, violent, inspiring, a form of transportation, living quarters, and life-giving.
California Plein-Air Artists
In the early 1920’s Southern California was beginning to become populated with more and more people. Los Angeles was growing; the idea of suburbs was just getting started. The era of the French Impressionist period in Europe was trending down. California artists were becoming unhappy with development that was starting all around them. The idea of painting California scenery was starting to grow with a passion because artists did not want to give up this beautiful scenery to builders of factories and housing tracts.
These artists started to be called “California Impressionists”. They wanted to memorialize the beauty of what they saw in the Southern California landscape before the destruction began. That was the opposite of how the French Impressionists saw it. They embraced change in their paintings, but the Californians saw it differently. They embraced the notion of Old-World charm where there was none in many instances. By the 1930’s many small towns were springing up on the outskirts of Los Angeles with strings of electric lights and telephone lines.
Many artists didn’t express themselves publicly about how they felt about this change; but they oil painted pastoral farm scenes and seascapes along the coast that gives one a romantic and nostalgic feeling to look at them to this day. They believed in beauty above truth in order to escape from the unpleasant reality in the changes of the time. The serenity of orchards in bloom, tree-shaded farmhouses, and sunny hillsides gave their paintings a quality of escapism in the “land of the afternoon”.
In reality, for example, farms were mostly owned by corporate monopolies. It had become very difficult to own a family farm by then. The “serene” world of farm work was done mostly by immigrant workers who did back-breaking labor in the fields. The California Impressionists preferred not to see this reality in their paintings. They painted lovely scenes devoid of people. It is obvious they had a deep response to the sprawl that was around them.
Many landscape painters came out to paint the disappearing orange groves and the coastal mountains in droves. They attempted to memorialize what they saw by putting it on canvas. Their art was a direct response to the huge sprawl that would be coming and forever change California.