Friday, December 26, 2014

A Cannon Beach Christmas

12/23/14 Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencil, watercolor, Pentalic watercolor sketchbook

Our Christmas gift to each other this year was to spend most of Christmas week at one of the most beautiful places on earth (which is, luckily for us, only four hours away): Cannon Beach, Oregon. We usually go in the spring or fall, but our favorite beachfront hotel was offering a half-price deal during the month of December, so it was impossible to resist. Both festive and serene, the town was dressed up in lights for the holidays, and yet we had the place nearly to ourselves. It was the best of all holiday worlds!

12/23/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi ink, colored pencils, Canson XL
The beach itself, on the other hand, was somewhat dark and somber – not from the weather (which was mostly moderate and only a little rainy) but from weather-related events. Last week’s storms pushed in a lot of debris from the ocean, including piles of plastics and other garbage from the 2011 Japan tsunami that is finally reaching Pacific Northwest shores. That devastating event had caused a swirling garbage pit to float around on the Pacific for all these years, and some of it is finally here. A crew of city staff and volunteers was busy at work during low tide picking up as much debris as possible from Cannon Beach’s normally pristine sand.

At the same time, hundreds of dead birds were all over the shoreline everywhere we looked. We asked around to try to find out what caused the kill, but we weren’t able to determine whether it was a natural phenomenon or related to the garbage.

12/23/14 Super 5 Frankfurt ink
Fortunately, not all the sea birds were dead: Every morning when I opened the curtains, a seagull would immediately appear on our deck railing, hoping for handouts. Persistent as well as patient, he always stuck around long enough for me to fill a page or two in my sketchbook. Other times I’d simply watch a flock of gulls soaring over the water and try to capture the gesture of flight without resorting to the stereotypical twin curved lines I used to draw when I was a kid. 

Despite evidence of various traumatic events, we enjoyed many long walks along the shores of Cannon Beach – still one of the most beautiful places on earth.

12/22/14 Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencil, watercolor, Stillman &
Birn Beta sketchbook

One of hundreds of dead birds on the beach.

Barnacles growing on a plastic bottle.

Lots of debris washing up.
Greg taking photos.


  1. Despite the sadness of debris from Japan and the dead birds, it still sounds like a wonderful place and a place that recharges you. Great sketches.

  2. From another beach across the Pacific, greetings! Thank you for the reminders of beauty.

  3. Looks like the beach there is a beautiful spot. Too bad the garbage and dead birds spoiled it a bit. Great sketches of the water and the big rock!!! Love the photos too. Great idea for a bit of time away. Glad you had fun!

  4. Just heard a news piece this weekend... here in WA there are lots of dead migratory birds due to a new strain of Bird Flu. Perhaps that's the cause of the dead birds on the beach?


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