Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ocotillo Heaven

Ocotillo ("oh-koe-TEE-yo") are the clumps of spindly sticks with the green leaves and red-orange flowers seen in the painting on the right. We desert dwellers, as well as people who love the desert but who don't live there, really seem to get off on these things. It's fun to see them in their natural state, but you'll see them in desert gardens everywhere.

The painting depicts one of many areas where you'll see ocotillo grow. This is south of Palm Desert, California in the foothills of Mt. San Jacinto. You can see a part of Deep Canyon way off at the base of the distant hills. Deep Canyon is a biological research station and is closed to the public. I've been to this overlook many times, until I found out these hills are part of the research center and, therefore, I was impacting the region just by being there! Oh, well. I won't be hiking there again, although there are some well-worn trails made by other human beans looking for the same beauty of the desert as I was.

In the foreground I painted the commonly-occurring zebra-tailed lizard. I love lizards almost as much as I love bunnies, and in fact I often include one or the other, or both, in my paintings. It's fun to "hide" critters in the paintings, which is how you'll often discover the animals--blending in with their surroundings; they see you but you don't see them, until you get too close--then you'll see a puff of dust, a rattle of dry leaves or the blur of an undistinguishable figure as the critter bolts for safety.

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