Capay Valley

Last weekend, Julia and I went up to the CAPAY VALLEY, a picturesque farming area about 2 hours drive from San Francisco, to attend an OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD farm-dinner. The trip made a good excuse for a weekend of drawing.

Our posh dinner was set for Sunday so we planned to devote all of Saturday to exploring and sketching. During breakfast on the porch of our inn, we saw a deer and her two baby fauns walking through the garden and into the forest. With that charming sight in our minds, we put on back-backs and set off, musing on the advantages of country life. Our inn-keeper had given us walking directions to some interesting farms nearby but, when we arrived, there was nobody to ask permission to enter the properties. It felt presumptuous to ignore all the “Keep Out” signs and set-up drawing in the owners’ absence, so we retraced our steps back to our inn.

Suddenly, we were startled by a grisly scene; about 10 feet from the trail we walked on, one of the fauns we’d seen earlier that same morning was having its throat torn out by a huge black Labrador, while the clearly-distressed mother watched from a safe distance with her other baby. After a pathetic yowl, the faun was dead, almost before we knew what was going on. Thoroughly deflated, we decided to get in the car and go seek things to draw elsewhere.

Although the valley is incredibly pretty from one end to the other, it was surprisingly difficult to find a place to sit and draw, because everything picturesque is on private property, plastered in “No Trespassing” signs. On the other hand, maybe we were not looking hard enough; seeing Bambi slaughtered by Cujo had sucked the fun out of the day for us. Whatever the cause, by the end of the first day, all we’d found to draw was an abandoned school house. Driving back to our inn that evening, we saw an old rusty truck and resolved to draw it early the next day before our dinner.

The next day was a vast improvement over the first. We drew the truck as planned. While Julia devoted all her time to the truck and did a fantastic pastel, I managed to bang out another sketch, of a nearby wagon before we had to head off to our event.

The dinner we’d gone all that way to attend took place at one long, long table seating 140 people, placed between a row of trees in the fig orchard of CAPAY ORGANIC FARMS. For several months now, we’ve been getting a box of their produce delivered to our front door every other week, so when we heard there was to be a farm dinner hosted on their property it seemed like something we shouldn’t miss. The dinner was preceded by a tour of the farm itself which was an lovely setting for an evening meal with just about the best weather you could have wished for. Our table-mates were strangers but excellent company. Each of them had some connection to farming or wineries and we had lively and fun conversation that made the entire journey well worthwhile.

1 thought on “Capay Valley”

  1. These sketches are really great Jamie. I like how you chose not to use any lines this time and focused on tone and shapes. Really well done!

    I am feeling very sad about the little faun’s tragic end. When studying the interesting effects of light on interesting objects we tend to forget about the whole experience of the land itself, the story of the place, the feeling of where we are. Witnessing the death of the faun was a harsh reminder.


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