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!

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