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!
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.
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.
The mysterious red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Inspiring in all weathers.
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.
Even the standing majesty of the sycamores, alder and oaks catch electric light.
I begin a pastel sketch while the sky is still a benign blue.
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.