California Impressionists Paint Lasting Memories

Picturesque Scenes of Early California

cove in carmel

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Claude_Monet,_Impression,_soleil_levantImpression: Sunrise

Long after Claude Monet’s painting Impression: Sunrise captivated the art world in 1874, giving rise to the Impressionism movement, California’s own artists sought to utilize the style’s small, thin brushstrokes and open composition to depict the beauty of the beaches, valleys and mountains around them.

home in the foothills

field of flowers

Plein air painting class

In a renaissance of sorts, the state’s warm climate and magnificent scenery lured artists from their studios, taking easels, canvasses and paints into the great outdoors, eager to convey their own visions of nature.

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Painting outside (as the French called en plein air) during the first part of the 20th Century, the Impressionists collectively became known as the California Plein-Air School.

Mirroring the region’s rugged individualism and desire to break away from convention and East Coast and European traditions, the Impressionists boldly embraced the freedom to shape reality on stretched canvass.

Tom Brown painting

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And, with new money flowing into the state as wealthy investors and industrialists and those seeking fame, fortune and good health made it their home, the artists were able to profit from their work.

Venice Beach 1920s

 

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel love the vastness and vitality of the picturesque California scenes of undisturbed meadows, fields of flowers, bluffs over the ocean, hidden coves and towering mountains.

Poppies Granville Redmond

hills and valleys

above ocean

carmel vista

Harking back to a time when orange groves were plentiful in the OC and the Santa Fe railroad trains rolled through the fields, the plein-air paintings have both artistic and historic significance.

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But, with the onset of the Great Depression and emergence of newer art movements, the California Impressionists’ art fell out of favor. And, like other treasures, it was lost…waiting to be found.

stockmarket crash

Thankfully, it was, more than half a century later, most notably by art collector and philanthropist Joan Irvine Smith. In 1992 Smith established the Irvine Museum, “dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930).”

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With family ties dating back to the California gold rush and the founding of the Irvine Company, Orange County’s largest private land owner, Smith wanted to preserve the plein-air art that was so closely associated with California’s early years.watch Vacheron Constantin

Smith has said “looking at the pictures is like stepping back in time” and enables people to learn about the art period as well as the need to retain some of the environment in its natural state.

Louis Betts beach at coronado

You can experience for yourself the beauty of the Impressionists’ paintings at the Irvine Museum (18881 Von Karman Ave., Irvine). Its featured exhibit now, The Nature of Water, which runs through June 16, is as current as today’s news, focusing on California’s unspoiled oceans and waterways, while emphasizing the need for water conservation.

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Coral Reef Bleaching Crisis

World’s Coral Reefs Losing their Colors

A Global “White-Out”

pink coral with fish

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

We’ve all heard that stress kills. But, did you know it can kill the Earth’s eco-systems, too – especially coral reefs?

Coral Reef with fish

The bright, vivid orange, pink, purple and blue colors we’ve all come to associate with coral reefs may be a thing of the past if the impact of ocean temperature changes, water run-off pollution, and other environmental stressors aren’t reduced.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that there is a worldwide coral bleaching crisis with colorful coral reefs turning from a healthy glow to a sickly white. This not only threatens the life of the reefs, but of the sea animals that inhabit them. And, with a fourth of the world’s marine species calling the reefs their home, this is no small matter.

white coral reef

When the ocean is too warm or acidic coral expel the algae living in their tissues, draining themselves of nutrients and bleaching their colors until they turn white.

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healthy vs white coral

wfcrcLogoSurfWriter Girls contact at The World Federation for Coral Reef Conservation, Vic Ferguson, the Executive Director, says this is one of the worst coral bleaching events in human history. “Scientists are calling it the severest yet. The human race has put its footprint on these precious ecosystems and we may lose them faster than we think.”

photo Vic Ferguson

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “we may be losing somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 percent of the coral reefs this year.” It’s been especially bad in Hawaii in part because of the hot ocean waters produced by the the El Nino conditions.

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Other troubled coral reef spots include Florida, the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

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Surf and ocean painter Nathan Paul Gibbs – a self-described “enviro-soldier” – captured the coral reef damage in his moving painting Acidification of the Great Barrier Reef.

 

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Gibbs has seen the dying coral firsthand. On a dive boat charter in Australia headed to the Barrier Reef’s outer reef, Gibbs remembers “we had to travel nearly an hour to get to the ‘good’ reef.'” This was because much of the reef had been destroyed, bleached by acidification due to toxic agricultural run-off from the farms in Queensland.

Great-Barrier-Reef

NOAA Coral Reef Watch Coordinator Mark Eakin said, “This isn’t just a problem for divers and fish; coral reefs are crucial globally. Coral reefs protect shorelines, produce tourism dollars and help provide food for 500 million people around the world.”

coral reef in Fiji

Ferguson, of the World Federation, says that his organization is working at the grass roots level around the world to share information with other environmental groups, governments, and individuals about the steps to take to better understand the coral reefs and how to protect them. He emphasizes that “we have a responsibility to share what we know about coral reef conservation with the rest of the world.”

fish corals

What can we do to keep the color in the world’s coral reefs?

Reducing our carbon footprints of energy use is a good place to start because that reduces global warming.

Cutting back on water usage and disposing of trash properly will help, too, by keeping waste water run-off and pollutants out of the ocean.

drains to ocean

Letting business and government leaders know it’s important – with our comments, purchases and votes.

With a little help from us, orange can be the new color of life.

yellow and pink coral

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.