By Ryah Cooley
It was a cold and foggy morning, and artist Rita Pacheco worked quickly to paint the old ranch house at Spooners Cove in Montaña de Oro. She was so fascinated with her subject matter that she didn’t even notice the gorgeous view of the sparkling turquoise ocean until it was too late.
“My family camped here about 10 years ago, and I did a small plein air painting of that little house,” Pacheco said. “It was early in the morning and the atmosphere was so beautiful. And when I turned around and saw this view of the ocean I was kicking myself, but I wasn’t familiar with the area.”
So when Pacheco, who is based in Carlsbad, was invited to partake in Studios on the Park’s Wet Painting Invitational, she jumped at the opportunity for another chance to paint the view that got away. A dozen painters from across the country were invited to set up wherever they liked and paint a scene from the SLO landscape on Sept. 26. Their works will be on display and available for sale through Oct. 23 at the gallery in Paso Robles.
This time, Pacheco set up on a hill overlooking the water and families enjoying the coastal breeze, which provided some relief from the triple-digit heat that day. She began painting in the early afternoon and about two hours later, her dreamy, impressionistic rendering of the cliffs surrounding the cove was complete. Sometimes she’ll take photographs and work from those at home, but given the choice, Pacheco would rather be painting what’s in front of her in the fresh air.
“If you take much longer than that [two hours] the light changes so it kind of screws things up anyways, and you find yourself chasing light,” Pacheco said. “The photographs distort the view, the value, and perspective. If I take photographs, I’m not painting from life anymore, I’m painting from the camera’s version of it, and it’s not accurate.”
While Pacheco has her favorite painting spots near her home area, including La Jolla and Laguna Beach, the artist loves to pick up and go so she can tackle different views.
“I also love to go somewhere new,” Pacheco said. “I’ve traveled to Colorado for painting invitationals and really enjoyed the little mining towns, like Telluride, where the buildings are a hundred years old. It’s just beautiful.”
Normally Pacheco would take a painting home and make some finishing touches, but for the invitational her landscape of Spooners Cove will hang and sell as is. As she put the finishing touches on her still-wet painting, the light and shadows surrounding the cliffs and dancing on the tips of the waves bounced around once more.
“Later this afternoon will be another beautiful scene, but it will be different,” Pacheco said. “I do want to appreciate nature as it is, but if I wanted to make an exact copy of it, I’d take a photograph. I want to give it my own take with the way I respond to nature and the way I see it.”
Ryah Cooley is enjoying the view at email@example.com.
Works from the Wet Painting Invitational will be up on display and available for sale through Oct. 23 at Studios on the Park at 1130 Pine St. in Paso Robles. Visit studiosonthepark.org for more information. For more of Rita Pacheco’s work, check out ritapacheco.com.