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