When I was a child, I always thought of hills & mountains as barriers that hindered my family’s annual drive from the valley to the coast: They were obstacles to be gotten over – or more accurately, around – before we could begin our seaside vacation. Every year, about the time my brother Paul & I began to wonder if our intense excitement would prove fatal, we encountered one last, looming mountain seemingly in our path. But then my dad would say, “The ocean’s just on the other side of that.”
Sweet, life-saving words!
Fast forward to today &, for one reason or another, Tom & I find ourselves frequently whizzing our way around those very same hills & mountains & others similar to them. Sitting in the passenger seat, camera in hand, I eagerly capture image after image through the car windows: No longer tedious impediments, in my mind they are now the terra firma equivalents of ocean waves.
For hills, seen from the vantage point of our car as it circles around & between them, suggest movement. When they appear in complex, interlocking rows, their contours undulate like the sea. Shadows cast by scurrying cumulus clouds enhance the illusion; so do the light-&-dark contrasts of late afternoon on a sunny day. At times the analogy can be found in unexpected places: We recently drove through Utah & saw craggy rock structures that brought to mind the shredded edges & strong diagonals of the wind-blown surf off Monterey Peninsula last January.
Why is it so exciting to me that hills have a visual affinity with ocean waves? Because that is what has made me finally want to paint them!