Tag: Nature

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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Primal landscape: earth and sky. Kaua’i.

Winter:Dawn, Hanalei, Kaua'i.
Winter:Dawn, Hanalei, Kaua’i. Oil on Canvas, 4 x 5 ft.

 

 

This new painting will be featured in my upcoming show of Landscapes from Arizona and Kaua’i.

It was inspired by a visit a year ago to one of the most beautiful places on the planet: the northern shores of Kaua’i, Hawai’i.

I worked on the painting from memory and sketches done on site, and I also took some photos, just to jog my memory of how intense the sky was, and the delicate reflectiveness of the ocean. So primal, so endless, a wonder.

Sunrise over Hanalei.
Sunrise over Hanalei.

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.

Cathedral Rock and the Vortex, Sedona

The mysterious red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Inspiring in all weathers.
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A recent excursion led us to Cathedral Rock, a sacred site where drawing and painting en plein aire only suggests the richness and power of Mother Earth.
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Even the standing majesty of the sycamores, alder and oaks catch electric light.
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I begin a pastel sketch while the sky is still a benign blue.
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14 X 11 inches on Pastel Board.
By mid-morning the sky turns threatening, and as if the Vortex surrounding the Cathedral could speak, the skies darken and begin to open up. We pack up, but stay in the gathering rain, enjoying the moisture. Who doesn’t appreciate the gift of monsoon?
More on dodging monsoons in Sedona and experiencing the spiritual Vortex later.
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Any other Vortex lovers?

Aravaipa Canyon, Spring

The majestic and awesome Aravaipa Canyon, in central Arizona.

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Can one even try to capture the raw beauty?

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(oil sketch, 6 x 12 inches).

A little further down the trail,

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with a view of the Cottonwood grove in the canyon.

A little pastel sketch begun,

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a little more…

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And then it’s time for a late afternoon Sycamore sketch in oil.

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The oil palette, very tidy.

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Aravaipa is so lovely in the late spring.

Rincon Peak from the Miller Creek Trail

To get to the beautiful and scenic Rincon Peak from Tucson takes about an hour and a half, promising a warm afternoon of painting en plein aire.  

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Before you get to the Miller Creek Trailhead, however, you must past the old movie set, the town of Mescal.

ImageA town not too tough to die, but desolated anyway. Seasonal tours on Saturdays. Not sure what movies were made there. Do you know of any?

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Then passing through Happy Valley, beautiful Oak, Sycamore, Juniper and Mesquite trees surround dry creek beds. Until finally we set up in a spot near the Miller Creek Trailhead. The trail is an 8 hour hike to the top of Rincon Peak. We’ll stay below.

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Finished oil sketch, 14 x 16 inches. A study for a future studio piece to come. It was 100 degrees when we got back to Tucson Town! Isn’t it too early for that?