This painting attempts to capture some extraordinary encounters I had while I was in Big Sur, California in 1998; living and working in one of the most beautiful places on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It was pure peace in nature. Highway One wove silently along the mountain coastline with bridges spanning the gorges below and swallows would nest on the underside of these structures. They cut into the mountains on 100ft concrete legs that stood carefully among the trees in the valley below. Every day I would watch the swallows, as they did their amazing acrobatics, twisting and turning through the air. I would sit completely still on a rock in the clearing near the cliff top and the birds would fly past my head at eye level just inches from my face. The adults would take a few younger birds out on what looked like flying training. They would dive out of the nests swooping down 100ft through the trees then out over the ocean and back again. It looked like the most intense rollercoaster ride. They played and showed-off like dolphins do in the sea with boats. I was able to see their tiny shiny dark eyes as they whizzed past me, tipping and twisting their wings like fighter planes. The blues and orange and yellow markings would streak past me leaving a wake of colour and energy that was so momentary, but so powerful I became addicted to them. I had to go back each day for my fix of those extraordinary moments.
Gouache on paper