Tag: Arizona

Plein air outing at Ruby, AZ

Ruby, Arizona, one of the largest and oldest ghost towns in Arizona, and a destination for a recent painting trip on a sunny February day.

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The atmosphere of the town lent itself to an inspired afternoon of wandering and exploring, and finally settling down to paint a view of the Mill, with Montana Peak behind.

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The mill, shed and Montana Peak.

Stages of the plein air study, beginning with a yellow ochre underpainting, building up layers of colors until finally a 2 or 3 hour painting was as complete as it was going to be.

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“Ruby”; oil/canvas, 10 x 8″

Then once more checking in on the Schoolhouse before we go back to Tucson.

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Painting at Cochise Stronghold at the Horse Trail

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Another wonderful visit to Cochise Stronghold in southern Arizona. We found our site to set up easels just before the park land. There was a cozy spot in the shade, near a little horse trail and an abandoned stone ranch house.

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Starting the oil painting, I’ve blocked in some of the middle tones, and shadow fall on the boulders above.

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Closer view of the beautiful boulders that Chief Cochise of the Apaches had his last stand.

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Final view of the finished painting. It was a beautiful warm day, the intense heat of southern Arizona summer fading a little.

Ramsey Canyon Preserve, and the Nature Conservancy.

Located within the upper basin of the San Pedro River basin, Ramsey Canyon is a paradise for birding, nature watching, and plein air sketching and painting. It’s nice to compare the seasons as they unfold.

Fall colors along the San Pedro river, at Ramsey Canyon Preserve in the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona.
Fall colors along the San Pedro river, at Ramsey Canyon Preserve in the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona.

Last November as the leaves were in full color, we took advantage of a great opportunity to take the easel and paints out to the Ramsey Canyon nature preserve. The sketch was really about the brilliance of the color, and the forest environment.

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A couple of months later, we returned to the preserve, and set up easels next to the beautifully running creek.

January at the canyon.
January at the canyon.

The light is gorgeous, the water running at a steady clip. Being mid-day, the sun was going to steadily move down, but we figured we had 2 1/2 good hours to paint..

Beginning sketch.
Beginning sketch in ochres to set up values.

The goal was to catch the light on the running water, the movement and transparency of the water flowing over the rocks.

Finished 8 x 10" oil sketch.
Finished 8 x 10″ oil sketch.

Cochise Stronghold, Arizona

One of the most beautiful, tender and fragile locations of southern Arizona, Cochise Stronghold marks where the final Apache Chief Cochise defended his land.

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Visiting means paying homage to as well as honoring the sad history and memory of the Apache tribe. Recently with monsoon rains, it was necessary to pay a visit to the magical waters in the creek nestled within the canyon. The creek was running steadily.

Speckled light and delicate trickling of water. We also spotted bobcat prints and smelled au de bobcat scent.
Speckled light and delicate trickling of water. We also spotted bobcat prints and smelled au de bobcat scent.

The breeze was cool coming off the waters. Being a weekday, there were no other visitors to the campsite, making the quiet of the forest powerful. We stuck our feet in the cold water and made a little sketch.

Small pencil drawing in the creek.
Small pencil drawing in the creek.

Protecting our Cultural and Natural Heritage

A group of artists and activists in southern Arizona are concerned about protecting the Santa Rita Mountains from the proposed Rosemont Mine. Below is a weathered outdoor map of the Empire and Cienega Resource Conservation Area, provided by the Forest Service (are the pock marks bullet holes? You see a lot of bullet holes on signs in Arizona).

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A Canadian company, Augusta Resource, is going through the process of acquiring mining rights to this area, and plans to mine for copper for the next 20 years. While mining is an Arizona industry, grand-fathered mining rights from the early 1900’s don’t necessarily reflect current needs to protect bio-diversity and cultural heritage. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/arizona-mining-project-wins-a-key-permit/

It is also questionable whether Augusta Resource plans to “flip” the property to another institution once the permissions have been made.http://www.ajelp.com/articles/not-your-fathers-mine-the-rosemont-copper-mine-and-dry-stack-tailings/

A view in the late afternoon on a crest just below the old Rosemont Ranch:

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I am documenting the area through oil painting studies done plein air:

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The study completed, in the 1 hour left before the sun sinks below the hills to the West:

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At risk in the area are: Recreation and Tourism (hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, ATV riding, taking a scenic drive); Biodiversity/Charismatic Species: Jaguar, Ocelot, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Gila Chub, Gila Topminnow, Desert Tortoise, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Lesser Long-Nosed Bat. Plants: Huachuca Water Umbel, Pima Pineapple Cactus, Coleman’s Coral-Root, Beardless Chinch Weed, Wildlfe connectivity and corridors; Water/Watersheds: Diminished riparian areas of Davidson Canyon and Cienega Creek watersheds will affect ranching, vineyards, wildlife and vegetation; Cultural Resources: More than 4 Native American tribal farming and historic burial grounds; Business: Vineyards in the Davidson Canyon area; Pecan Industry in Green Valley; Ranching (Cattle).

Please visit: http://www.scenicsantaritas.org, www.LensOnTheLand.com; and www.skyislandalliance.org.

Historic Empire Ranch Arizona Part I

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A recent visit to the old ranch that was homesteaded in the 1870’s. Painting the ranch and landscape is part of a project to embrace the environment visually, as part of an effort to save the Santa Rita mountains and area from being devastated by the proposed Rosemont Mine.

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The ranch is lonely and austere, and kept up by the Park Service. The structure I’m drawing in pastel is the old Hired Man’s House, an adobe structure also from the late 19th century.

 

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Imagining the old west: cattle days and cowboy architecture. Wind, turkey vultures overhead and a glimpse into time that exists in the past, present and maybe the future.

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For more information about Empire, go to empireranchfoundation.org. To learn about the project that opposes the building of the Rosemont Mine, go to: http://www.Lensontheland.com.