Paintings of California History

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In addition to my work, I have been involved for a number of years in recreating landscapes of California’s history that are now lost. The painting above shows San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Cove as it was in 1851. While thoroughly researched, the image is not based on a photographic, source, in part because none of this location exist. Instead, it is based on a constellation of sources. An enormous amount of information was found in letters, sketches, maps, drawings, and reports.

To sort through and make use of all this information, a catalog was assembled that listed major buildings, terrain features, and ships in the harbor. Each time one of these features was described or drawn, its author’s depiction was added to the aggregate of all information about that feature. Additionally, many of the author’s and artist’s work was also compared to known values which came from photographs and government commissioned maps, thereby creating a means to assign credibility to unknown information in the form of a weighted score based on how well they had depicted those known baseline values.

It is because of this process that much of what is shown in my paintings represents the sum of many sources, creating as complete a picture of the time and place as is possible, and one that is likely more accurate than many other original modern depictions.