“Windswept”, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 18×24″
The westbound stream of smoothly flowing traffic abruptly comes to a halt. Mile upon mile, cars inch forward a few feet at a time, then wait. In what appears to be the middle of nowhere, for no discernible reason, there is a perpetual traffic jam.
Pacheco Pass is one of the worst-designed highways in California. Traffic backs up for miles waiting to get through a truly frightening intersection. The Old West is still alive here: there are no signal lights, just a big game of “chicken”. At highway speeds.
While awaiting my turn through this Russian Roulette of intersections, I had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. The hills here, so characteristic of California, are dotted with wonderfully craggy oaks.
One oak tree in particular caught my eye. It had grown, bent by the prevailing winds, into this fantastic windswept shape. Stuck in traffic with plenty of time on my hands and nothing else to do, I gleefully snapped several photos of it. One of those photos formed the basis of this painting.
I don’t advise driving through Pacheco Pass unless you absolutely have to, but if you do, keep your eyes peeled for this tree. It’s on the north side of the road, some ways east of the traffic jam.
This painting is sold, but there are plenty more at www.barbarajcarter.com