Sunday, June 24, 2012

Desert Paintings I - Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

As you may know by now, the southwestern deserts of the USA are my favorite places to paint. The two areas I tend to paint the most are Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (which I'll discuss now) and Joshua Tree National Park (which I'll discuss in the future -- perhaps next time!)

One of my all-time favorite vistas is the view of the Sonoyta Mountains of Mexico. (Organ Pipe Cactus NM is in southern Arizona on the border with Mexico). I've created paintings of this desert spot many times, with minor variations each time.

This image shows one of the pieces I like the best; in fact, I consider it a signature picture that I use on my business cards and as avatars on several websites -- including my own ( or and this blog.

Then I have this newer version without the wash:

Some years back, I painted this large (48" x 60"/1.2m x 1.5m) work. You may recognize the organ pipe cactuses (used to be "cacti") from the previous images), but this painting of this special desert also features a cactus wren:

Here I included a Harris' hawk, which tend to fly low near the ground rather than soar high in the air as do redtail hawks:

Finally, I painted another large piece (36" x 48"/0.9m x 1.2m) with a mostly imaginary foreground and a couple of desert bighorn sheep:

These desert art pieces are only a sampling -- there are other smaller artworks I've also made of this particular view, as well as numerous other paintings that show other scenes from within the Monument. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is high on my list of beautiful places to visit -- and to paint!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Google and the Website

Or maybe I should call this "The Website Blues."

One of the things we website owners want is for our sites to rank highly when someone uses a search string that describes our site. So, for example, I figure people who are looking for paintings of the desert would Google "desert paintings."

As someone who built and maintains my own site (which, by the way, just happens to be or, I spend a lot of time trying to make sure Google finds my site quickly when search strings like "desert paintings" is used. Most of the time, I think I've done OK -- usually ranks in the top 20 in a list of literally millions. I have ranked as high as #1!

However, if I make no changes to my site, it slowly slips back in the rankings. Frequent changes is one of the ways Google determines if a given site is worthy of being ranked highly.

Some changes are better than others. Switching out images of paintings or rewriting text are normally fine. Changing the name of a page is iffy. I did that with the two pages that feature my available paintings. The first of those pages was entitled ".../Purchase,", but I recently changed it to ".../Purchase-Desert-Paintings" as a way of using "desert paintings" more often so Google would find it easily.

Problem is: Google isn't as fast as I am when changing page titles. My website has been bumped all the back into the 130s at this time. The original title still shows, and if you click on it, you'll get a "Page Not Found" message, since "Purchase" is no longer the title of that page!

Thus -- my website is buried back further than most people would search for, and if they do manage to find it, the link in the Google list of sites doesn't work!

Oh, brother!

All I can do (as far as I know) is wait it out and hope things get fixed...eventually.

And I'll moan "The Website Blues."