A little while ago, I drove south of Los Angeles and into the wilds of North East Orange County. My destination was the nestled in Saddleback Mountain. There are several canyons and trails and the surroundings are rustic. I was looking for a place where I would be able to paint a view of the mountains highest point, Santiago Peak.
Orange County California has within it a number of beautiful parks to visit and hike. Along a creek bed I saw this view and decided on it as a subject to paint. Standing on the rocks and sand of the wash, I laid a nine by twelve panel on my portable easel and began to lay out little piles of paint onto my palette. The activity of preparation got me tuned in to the immediate environment around me. I could hear the gurgling water and feel the mild breeze, the sun was setting behind me.
Let the Rustic Settle
In some ways I could imagine what a rustic and remote environment this must have been to the early settlers of the area. I wondered how they made their way into the canyons. They evidently proceeded by carving out little villages, mines and stage coach routes.
On the this view of the mountain there is a small hidden village area called Modjeska. Odd, that a Polish name for the town is in a land where most are monikered after Spanish surnames. The area is named after Helena Modjeska, a polish born Shakespearian actress who was quite famous in the 1870’s.
Today, and not too far away are the freeways and urban sprawl that has become Southern California. Seeing this view of Santiago Peak was good place to connect with the area and imagine it’s history. I could imagine the spirits of the Native Americans, the Spanish, the Mexicans, the American Pioneers, and Helena Modjeska who have had their history here. Now we can tell the stories, imagine the past and add to the legacy. While painting this view of Santiago Peak, I felt as though I was being a part of that history also.