Park lands in the western states are being threatened on a daily basis. The natural beauty and stark intensity of desert lands just aren’t important to some people in power. The land is seen as valuable only in terms of what it can give up for money: mining, uranium, rooftops.
Close to my home are the Tucson Mountains, and the Sweetwater Trail, which still has National Park status, but lots of new rooftops dotting the pristine hills. I had a free day and went to walk the washes and animal trails just off the main human trail. Found a spot to set up and do an oil sketch.
It was so peaceful, yes warm because it has been the warmest recorded temps for this time of year, regardless of what some might say. But no snakes! Just coyotes howling a little in the distance and some birds rustling about.
This Friday, the September Full Moon brings again Open Studios at the Metal Arts Village. I’ve been working on some small studies in oil of monsoon water flows from the creeks around southern Arizona. Looking forward to some cooler weather now!
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.
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.
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″.
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).
A view in the late afternoon on a crest just below the old Rosemont Ranch:
I am documenting the area through oil painting studies done plein air:
The study completed, in the 1 hour left before the sun sinks below the hills to the West:
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).
One week before hurricane Sandy hit, we had an absolutely bucolic experience in the town and environs of Hudson.
Being a transplanted easterner living in the southwestern United States, as well as a landscape painter, I longed for the soft green and dramatic splendor of Hudson valley October: the fall colors. I set out to visit “Olana” the home estate of 18th century landscape painter Frederick Edwin Church. This was not just some estate.
The whole mountain is landscaped to allude to a pastoral and picturesque landscape, a view that Church used as inspiration in his work and continues to be cultivated according to his designs today. A picturesque view from the top:
The spring fed lake in the distance, the majestic Hudson river in the distance, it is all a fine drama not to be believed. The glory and the power of nature. No surprise that Mr. Freddy was inspired to paint thrilling and meticulous monumental landscapes in oil, such as “Twilight in the Wilderness”, 1860.
Sitting on a rustic bench facing the lake and river, I humbly sketch a little notation of the seemingly still pristine view, and thank the keepers of this beautiful place in our world.
My heart goes to all of the displaced and adjusting victims of Sandy, and hope for adjustment and peace.
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 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.
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.
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.