Monday, February 3, 2014

Plein Air El Moro

The beach trailers were still in place when we painted here with Mike Obermeyer in 2004. Not long afterwards, the trailers were torn down and the pristine beach of El Moro Cove became the public's treasure, part of Crystal Cove State Park. We were recently able to go back.
El Morro by Michael Obermeyer
Oil on Canvas 12" x 16" 2004
El Morro Beach Camp in Laguna Beach 1930s
image from here
The beach campground dated back to the 1920s on land owned by the Irvine Company. In 1979 the Irvine Company sold a large parcel of land which included the beach camp to the State of California. A summary of what happened next is recounted in Surfer Magazine here.
1948 Photo Courtesy Laguna Historical Society here
El Moro Beach and Canyon “Tyron’s Camp” (a cafĂ©, auto camp, and tent camp- ground) opened during the 1920s along the beach and inland at El Moro canyon. In the late 1950s the complex evolved into a seasonal trailer destination known as “El Morro Beach Trailer Park.” Later, about 300 permanent manufactured homes replaced seasonal beach trailers in this area. After resident tenants’ leases expired in 2005, the trailers were removed in order to develop a public campground and day-use facility. Info: here.
The Moro public campground has 60 tent and RV sites with parking for 200 day users, beach front comfort facilities and a pedestrian tunnel under the Pacific Coast Highway. Reservations for the camping spots can be made online via Reserve America here.
Our second day of painting this past December was on the beach at El Moro Cove. So beautiful, but my first feeling was one of slight panic. Pale sand, sparkling water, bright sunlight bouncing off of everything. Everything was light! I didn't know where to begin. Michael Obermeyer had painted this scene dozens of times. He calmly brought me back to the basics. "Block in the dark shapes with a big brush." As I squinted into the glaring sun, the darker contrast of the boulders on the sand in front of me became my starting point. 
We began painting. Walkers and joggers stopped by to say hello and comment on what we were doing. One man called us "the trinity" thinking it was amusing to see three painters at one time.
Mostly we just squinted into the sun and did our best to interpret the beauty of a warm December day at the beach in southern California.
My view.
After painting, we circled back to Mike's studio.
Mike Obermeyer's beautiful work.
Hugh and Mike
Our three interpretations:
by Hugh Gallagher 9" x 12"
by Gail Gallagher 8" x 10"
El Moro Cove by Michael Obermeyer 8" x 10"

I've used both spellings here for El Morro/Moro.
Descriptions of the trailer park always seem to be spelled "Morro".
Crystal Cove State Park lists the area as "Moro".
Well then.
Another great painting adventure.
In the El Moro parking lot.
Plenty of space.
A good place to try out the new bike with Dad.
Love the reindeer antlers on her handle bars.


  1. I am shy that you saw my paintings..what beautiful work..and I am assuming Hugh is your husband..what a great experience to have together.
    Both so talented:-)
    Gorgeous place.

    1. You are too kind and shouldn't be shy about your lovely work. We do have fun on our painting adventures!

  2. What a wonderful experience that must have been! Trying to capture the California light must have been a challenge. You all did a fabulous job. Beautiful paintings!


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