Tag: Desert Southwest.

Painting Demo October 1; 1-4pm

During the Grand Reveal of their newest contemporary furniture collection, I will demonstrate desert landscape painting on October 1, 1-4pm.

Along with “Desert Italia” at Contents Interior, see my “Desert Dream” series of oil paintings. Selected large and small landscape oils – studio and plein air paintings from my studio will also be on view and for sale.

Wine Tasting * Food Tasting * Artist Demonstration (yours truly!) * Design Presentation * Italian Music * Door Prizes and more!

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Open Studio under the Full Moon

Full Moon Open Studio is this Tuesday, at my studio in the Metal Arts Village, Tucson. I will be featuring this painting, a recent oil based on studies made of a special place in the wash at Rancho Linda Vista in Oracle, AZ.

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In studio paintings, I like to let the mark making and color fly. Abstraction meets representation, and the painting becomes something more than the original study, which is more often than not painted on site.

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Above is the small plein air study made of this prehistoric waterfall, mainly of the little top section, a very intriguing boulder conglomeration. This piece is 12 x 9″. The studio painting is 24 x 36″.

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.

The Land is the Space.

Landscape painting reminds me of what keeps me grounded and centered – connecting to the land and the wisdom and peace it offers.

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This beautiful image  above was taken by a friend who lives at Rancho Linda Vista in Oracle, Arizona, a magical place indeed. The Sonoran Desert is unique, dramatic, inspires inward journeys and (im)practical escapes. My dog Frida feels empowered too.

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I had a show of landscape paintings last month at the Ranch gallery, in the old barn dating from the early years of the last century.

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Some good people up from Tucson town listened to me talk about my process, the land, painting.

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Below, “Aspen Grove”, 5 x 4 feet, oil on canvas, somewhere between reality and abstraction, states of consciousness, the spirit of the wood.

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Terrifying Beauty

A new series of paintings includes one of an experience of an enormous wildfire here in southern Arizona in 2003: the Aspen Fire. My friend Chuck took this photo during the fire, looking towards the Santa Catalina’s, with Rancho Linda Vista in the foreground. Normally I never paint from photographs, but this one was incredible in it’s terrifying beauty, and took me 10 years to consider.

The Aspen Fire, 2003, Oracle, Arizona.

The reality of the experience was in the not knowing when the fire would end, what would be destroyed, when the monsoons would start. Black slurry planes flew over our houses en route to the core of the fire.

Recently when I sketched the experience in preparation for a large scale painting, I borrowed heavily from the composition of Chuck’s photo, but drew from the experience.

Colored pencil sketch.

Many months have gone by since beginning the final painting. Layers and layers of glazes and impasto, and finally I think it might be done.

“Seasons Series: Summer at Dusk”, oil on canvas, 4 x 5 feet, 2012.

The smoke becomes an abstraction as it pushes towards the Ranch. The sky looks clear against the black, grey and green of the smoke. The Ranch sits and waits.