Sunday, December 30, 2012

Templeton Feed & Grain

Following a suggestion, I checked out the historic Templeton Feed & Grain elevator which is conveniently located on Main Street.  It was a cold and rainy day, but the gray and ominous sky somehow matched the architecture and overall mood of the surroundings.

Always one to explore, my decision to walk around to the back (and through a fence opening) proved to be a good one... the feral cats watching me watching them turned out to be a fun distraction as the rain came down.  As an artist, this shoot was an experience that satisfied my creative curiosity in all the right ways.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Solitude

On a whim, I woke up and drove to Avila Beach for an amazing glimpse of the migrating whales. From there, I enjoyed some retail therapy but was soon back in my car in search of new scenery. I decided to take Los Osos road... and kept driving until I found myself at Montana De Oro. 

Although the afternoon fog had rolled in, I was greeted by a beautiful ray of light.  With a deep breath of the cool and crisp air, I found myself relaxed for the first time in weeks.  I stopped at nearly every scenic pullout, so that I could truly savor the uniqueness of this beautiful park.  With its varying scenery along a narrow and winding road, it was definitely an over the river and through the woods kind of experience.  Only, instead of ending up at grandmother's house, I ended up at stunning Spooner's Cove.

Thanks to one of California's largest state parks, I felt a sense of peace and spirituality that has been missing these last couple of months. 

Okay, by now you know the motto of the story: There is no better way to feel grounded than to take time to nurture yourself, explore new corners of your world, and be grateful for all that surrounds you.

A view of Spooner's Cove from the bluff

Some of the golden wildflowers for which this park is named

The historic Spooner Ranch House

My whale of an adventure:  Several of us from Paso drove to Avila Beach at different times throughout the weekend, but I was the only one lucky enough to see the whales.  I actually witnessed two of them and saw dolphins as well.  Although I chose to experience this rare opportunity with my own eyes, rather than view it entirely through my lens, I did manage to snap a couple of photos.  Even with only a small portion of the whale exposed in this shot, that section is as wide as the boat.  I feel so lucky to have checked this off my bucket list... whales are magnificent creatures, and they are as graceful as they are powerful.  Click on the image to view it larger. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Painting

"August Moon"
Acrylic on canvas

Note: This painting was difficult to photograph due to its high gloss finish.  Deep shades of purple/gray with subtle undertones of gold. This painting is unique in that that the color shifts slightly based upon the lighting.  With its mesmerizing sparkles, it's like staring up into the Milky Way. If you're familiar with my work, it's somewhat reminiscent of my previous painting "Dark Water."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Painting

Mixed media on canvas

Note: I often incorporate metallic washes in my paintings. Those elements often reflect in the light, making the image appear speckled with dust.  It is not. ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Joy of Veering Off Course

Committed to greater creativity this month, I decided it was time for another adventure late last Saturday afternoon. With my good camera broken, I tossed a new Nikon Coolpix in my bag and was out the door.  I hopped on the 101 and drove down the grade. As I passed Shell Beach, I noticed the sign for PCH 1 South.  I hadn't driven that direction before, so I took the exit and headed towards all that was new.  Pismo Beach. Grover Beach. Oceana. With town names like these, I assumed I was in for a gorgeous drive along the coastline.  I was wrong.  Trailer parks.  RV lots.  Tractors.  ConocoPhillips Refinery. Say what now!? 

Out of nowhere, I had found myself traveling amid a sea of retirement, agriculture, and industry.  I hadn't been this excited in ages.

After weaving and turning in and out of randomness, I passed a sign that I was entering Santa Barbara County. This was a big moment, considering I had only explored San Luis Obispo County.  In under an hour, I had crossed over into unfamiliar territory with a huge smile plastered on my face.

There was something interesting and uneasy about Guadalupe so I kept going.  A few miles later, I noticed I was nearly out of gas so changed my mind and decided it was time to head back to Paso. Grateful for cell service, I went online so that I could find my way back to the 101. The highway I needed took me right back to Guadalupe.

Thank you Google.

As I approached the intersection I needed, the light turned red.  Something told me to zig when I was should have zagged, so I quickly switched lanes. With the change of my blinker and glance at the gas gauge, I turned left down a lonely road with a single sign that assured me the coast was only four miles away.

To my surprise, that road led me to one of the most spectacular sights I've ever seen: Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve.  In less than five minutes, I had gone from feeling like I was driving in a different country to feeling like I was on a different planet. 

There is something magical about the pull of the ocean, especially during a perigee tide. 

This beautiful flock of brown pelicans flew right over my head.

Only mere minutes separate secluded agriculture and ocean.

I've learned that we can feel lost and be off course but still reach our destination, especially when we allow our enthusiasm and intuition to guide us. In other words, life is not about constantly sticking to the straight and narrow. Stop lurking in the darkness and step outside. Whether you veer left or stray right, let your inner child out to play and explore your world... and then trust that Google will help you find a gas station at the exact moment you need one.

To learn more about the preserve, visit

© Natalie Starnes



Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Painting

"Love Washes Over"
12 x 16
Mixed media on canvas

Mixed media on canvas, embellished with 4" metal key pendant that holds a stunning heart shaped Swarovski Elements Crystal

(The edges are painted the same rich, deep custom espresso as used on the key)