Acrylic on canvas
12" x 24"
July 3, 2019
The Pacific coastline of Washington State is a subduction zone. Over millions of years, the North American tectonic plate is shifting westwards and underneath the Pacific plate. The plate movements tend to occur in sudden shocks, which we experience as earthquakes and tsunamis. As the land is thus thrust into and under the sea, the waves carve away at the rocky cliffs, creating an ever-larger network of caves that eventually collapse, leaving behind a dramatic coastline of “sea stacks.” These haystack-shaped islands are sometimes large enough that they still have patches of old growth forest on top.
There are 3 such islands shown in this painting. The largest of the three belongs to the Quileute Nation. They call it "A-ka-lat," which means "Top of the rock" and use it as a sacred burial ground for their chiefs. Most maps call it James Island, named after the Quileute chief whose first name was Jimmie. A smaller island called "Little James Island" is in the foreground in front of James and is more literally like a haystack. At low tide, one can walk out to it.
Other than wanting an excuse to spend a relaxing summer day at the beach, I chose to paint this view in order to explore the challenge of capturing the still serenity of these islands along with the smell of the drying seaweed in the salty air, the unending motion of the approaching ocean waves, the rhythmic roar of the breaking surf, and the corresponding sigh of the pebbly sand as the ocean's white foamy blankets retreat back to join with the next wave.
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