Friday, August 23, 2013

New Painting

This was only the second time this year that I've had a strong desire to paint so, when I found myself inspired without a canvas, it was time to become resourceful.  After looking through my closets an idea finally came to me... Given my history of incorporating and/or painting on unique objects, it was a natural fit to use an empty wooden magnum wine box I had saved.  After all, what good is a box in a drawer when you've already enjoyed the wine that came with it. ;)

The title is named for the road where the grapes from the wine in the box were grown.  It is also an abstract expression that is meant to represent all of my road travels through wine country. 

 "Vineyard Drive"
5 1/4 x 19 x 5 1/4
Mixed media on wooden wine box
This painting is finished on all sides so
can sit on its own or hang by its wire

This rustic and earthy abstract is full of texture and unique hues
that beautifully capture my experience in wine country ~

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bubblegum Alley

Like most kids, I was a hardcore gum and candy connoisseur... and I had a mouth full of fillings to prove it.

Cue Bay City Rollers.

Classic gumballs, Dubble Bubble, Dentyne, Trident, Fruit Stripes, Big League Chew, Blow Pops, Bubblicious, Chiclets, Tiny Chiclets, Freshen-up, Razzle, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba. You name it, I chewed it.

Little did I know, as I was perfecting my bubble blowing skills in the rural Midwest, a quiet alley in Central California was slowly being plastered with the used gum.  Lots and lots of used gum.    

Fast forward a few decades to this week's random stroll down a unique SLO landmark: Bubblegum Alley

Located between 733 and 734 Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, this 15-foot high by 70-foot long alley is said to have been started by students as early as the 50s.  Surviving two power washes in its early years, it eventually became a protected attraction that continues to be decorated with the used gum of passers-by.

Teenage girls giggle and ask me to take their picture, a father and son add their gum to the wall, and a mother reminds her kids "not to touch anything" as she fumbles with her iphone to capture their huge smiles 

It's not exactly sanitary, and there are items stuck in gum that are a bit cringe worthy, but this remarkable sight is worth the trip if you find yourself in the area.  Whether you view as a form of art or a sticky eyesore, Bubblegum Alley is a memorable experience that seems to bring out the kid in each of its visitors, regardless of age.

I may no longer chew gum, but this was definitely a fun one to check off my bucket list.       


© Natalie Starnes

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Visit From Dad

It's hard to believe it's been over a year since my dad had was hit by a truck in an accident that gave him a 50/50 chance of survival. Even harder believe... I was minutes away from seeing him in person. I pulled up to the tiny terminal and saw him instantly.

My nervousness melted away into a warm smile when we met by the curb for a hug. As we put his luggage in my car, he told me about how he had stumbled while packing his car for the airport. He then showed me the bandage covering the gash over his temple from hitting his head on the car door. I was worried until I realized how great it was that he was alive, right before me, and already poking fun at himself for being clumsy. 

For the next five days we would smile, talk, and create enough memories to last a lifetime. Given how little he travels or treats himself, my one goal was to broaden his horizons through new sights and experiences. I knew my wish came true when I received a text from the plane thanking me for the best time in years. That meant the world.

His visit was incredibly meaningful for so many reasons. That had me snapping photos left and right... it helped that he was a big ham.  I see where I get it now. ;)

Here are some of my favorite images from his visit to wine country:

Hanging with the Elephant Seals in San Simeon

 With Gary Eberle, the "godfather" of Paso Wine


Eberle Wine Cave

Daou Vineyeards

Fun at Sculpterra Winery

Villa San-Juliette

 A spontaneous game of bean bag toss

Removing the bag after my score... yes, I somehow made one. We tied 1-1

Smart bird... location, location, location!

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Visit From Mom

My new work opportunity takes me to the coast three days a week... Cambria, CA

My mom was the 1st visitor I've had since moving here over a year ago. We had such a great time!

 Yummy wine and food throughout her visit

She looked cute in my sunglasses :)

I've always wanted to sit outside at an airport cafe and watch planes... the cold beer was lovely too

Having company reminded me I miss having a companion; I can't have furry pets so meet my new buddy, Mr. Fish. :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day Trip: Lompoc and Surf Beach

The heat of the season meant it was time to take a break from wine country, even if only for an afternoon. I had always wanted to visit Surf Beach, so I decided it was the perfect time to see something new.

After a couple of quick stops in Lompoc, I came upon a beautiful surprise: Ocean Beach Park. Just a few miles from the coast, this park is a remote oasis of bird watching and engaging shoreline. If you're not familiar with the area, the park sneaks up on you as you head up the hill just beyond the entrance. Once I saw what I had missed, I turned around and drove in for a closer look. After watching the ducks and Snowy Egrets, I continued onward to check out the other sights. Because the walkway under the bridge was flooded, I admit I ignored the railroad no trespassing sign in order see what was on the other side. I'm glad I made the short climb, because the view from the rustic tracks was one of my favorite moments. I then gently surfed down the sand and rocks in my flip flops which gave me access to the only small area open next to the protected cove. Although the beach is closed from March to September to protect the Western Snowy Plover, I took a moment to look over the fence and noticed several of the endangered birds frolicking about in their natural habitat. Lucky me!

From the park, it was a short drive to Surf Beach. As I walked across the Amtrak landing and tracks onto the warm sand, I was grateful I had made the choice to check out this part of the coast.  Holy gorgeous... I hope you agree. Xo    



© Natalie Starnes