To celebrate the end of a 5+ year project, the newly refurbished Visitor Center at Doheny State Beach reopened amidst much fanfare on April 11, 2014. Starting from the ground up, California State Parks, with much assistance from the Doheny State Beach Cooperating Association, completely renovated the Visitor Center in Dana Point. Part of the renovation was to create a fully functioning, 3-dimensional tide pool. Behind the tide pool was going to be a mural that depicts the landscape and watershed around a typical Southern California tide pool, and I was fortunate enough to be asked to create the paintings for the mural.
The above image is a much reduced scan of a 4' x 16' painting I began working on in April 2010. Three paintings, actually. Once the paintings were completed in November of 2010, I had the three canvases scanned at a very high resolution. Using the same process as municipal bus advertisements, State Parks had the scans enlarged and fabricated onto thin, durable, waterproof material that adheres to the walls in the Visitor Center.
The finished size of the scan material is approximately 7' x 28'. Instead of painting a mural directly upon the wall, State Parks decided it would be more efficient utilize a water proof and child proof material that can be replaced if damaged without recreating an entire mural or section of a mural.
The mural depicts several things. It shows some of the bird, plant and animal life that make use of San Juan Creek that empties into the ocean at Doheny State Beach. It also shows that all freshwater from the land ends up in the ocean, whether it is runoff from the stream or the water from washing a car. Where the land meets the ocean has been the major theme of my work since I started painting, so I was at home putting the mural together. While the mural is a semi-fictional landscape, not a true or realistic depiction of San Juan Creek or the south Orange County coastline, the goal for it is to be both educational and a landscape painting. I created the draft in Photoshop from 30+ layers of photographs that I took around Dana Point and Coastal Southern California. Creating the working draft was almost as interesting and as important as the actual painting.
The painting and scanning portion of the project was completed in December 2010. During the following spring the folks at State Parks changed part of their original design for the tidepool. Instead of having the rocks of the tidepool extend up the third wall, they decided it would be better to have a scene depicting open ocean behind that portion of the tidepool. The mural was installed in September, 2011, and in October I went to the visitor center to paint the scene of the ocean and sky directly onto the wall. This was an extension of the third or right panel of the triptych. I also took the color of the sky in mural and painted the ceiling above the tide pool exhibit for a unified look to that part of the exhibit.
For a relatively small space, the renovation was thoughtfully designed. In additon to the tidepool, there are several aquariums with aquatic creatures native to the Southern California Pacific, as well as a huge collection of taxidermy birds and mammals. This kind of small museum will be educating beachgoers for years to come.