James Hayward in Moorpark, California: Legendary Painting and Indiscretion

California Poppy growing at James Hayward's Ranch in Moorpark, California

Last Wednesday I drove out to Moorpark, California to see my friend and mentor James Hayward.  It was such a beautiful day, the ones you dream about during cold New York winters.  The hills were a rolling tan carpet.  Having been to his ranch before, I knew a good fill of soul filling nature was soon to be had.  It was a week exactly, since I drove back into Los Angeles from my nine month odyssey around the country painting giant flowers, checking out  Brooklyn and beyond.

While I was away, Jimmy published his first book, Indiscretion.  He hopes I am not scandalized and keeps advising me to read it from the beginning.  I am about 1/3 of the way through and eagerly reading these laugh-out-loud stories.  I am enjoying getting to know him again, from his childhood on and can’t wait to be scandalized.

While I was wintering in Brooklyn, I asked him to save a copy for me and I would come pick it up.  It is one of the things I looked forward to in the depths of winter, him and his unique California ranch and studio.  In the last week of 2010, Jimmy had written an email saying he had come across one of the paintings I had given him.  He wrote that I had a good eye for color and he hoped I was still painting.  I was not.  I was stranded in knee high snow in Brooklyn, the Q train was out, and I was contemplating my escape to LA, to a kinder, gentler nature.  It was a sign my prayers were being heard.  I was getting the inspiration I needed.

In the mid 2000’s Hayward took me under his wing.   I would not be the painter I am today, was it not for him.  He taught me to build and stretch my own canvas.  He told off color stories and philosophical life antidotes from cultures world wide.  He still does.  There is a deep sense of love and affection by the LA Art Community for this incredible genius of paint, life and play.  Hayward is skilled, has a deep knowledge and love for his craft and is a visionary.  He is a human’s human, artist’s artist, painter’s painter.  He is coveted and wild, human and legendary.

Jimmy's daughters pallet.  A budding painter.
Jimmy's daughters pallet. A budding painter.

Enjoying a great cup of strong coffee with cream and sugar, Hayward gave me a tour of the ranch and studio.  He has a new daughter he adores and a big fort for her in the middle of his complex of areas.  She also paints and was upset he had not scrubbed her pallet clean.  I am so glad he didn’t.

Each direction has something to discover and has  beauty about it.  There is a cactus garden, with healthy, giant cactus’.  He once showed me the deep red stain paint had been made from.  It comes from a fungus that lives on some of the cactus.  There is a large picnic table between the fort and cactus garden.  It’s sitting above and beside a little pond with gold fish.  Hayward spent some time in Japan.  Its’ gardens and simplistic, usable beauty inspired his sensibility.   He has made gorgeous mobiles and chimes with feathers and other found and painted things.

Once Hayward suggested I paint a painting in 12 minutes… I took that as, “hurry it up, live it.”  This is what inspired the “Cityscape” paintings.  As a sort of brain tease.  I still have not managed a 12 minute painting.  Hayward also mentioned another artist did all his under-painting in yellow.  I had been vacillating with the yellow, now I am committed to it.  I use it in almost every painting, and start out all the Random Acts this way.

James Hayward on his ranch in Moorpark, CA
James Hayward on his ranch in Moorpark, CA

As we got to the end of his property and the path started to bend around the horse corral, I caught a glimpse of Jimmy talking about flowers.  He was standing there in the midst of the most beautifully bright, purple pink sea of ground covering.

I am so grateful for James Hayward, who he is and his visionary painting:  Sensual, honest, irreverent, unpredictable and full of life force.

Painting by James Hayward

Click here for an article by James Hayward, Remembrances of a Monochrome Painter in Art Lies.

Do not forget to read Hayward’s new book.  Click here for a review written by Gordy Grundy about INDISCRETION by James Hayward in Artillery Art Magazine.

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