Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jurassic Park / Jurassic Mark

The first of the "Jurassic Park" movies is one of my favorite flicks. After it came out in 1993 and I had seen it several times, I did a takeoff of the name and signed e-mails "Jurassic Mark." It seemed appropriate for several reasons:

- My name is Mark -- rhymes with, and looks like, "Park";
- I love the movie;

- I like dinosaurs (although I'm not an expert on them);
- I'll be 60 years old in a few months which, as far as I'm concerned, might as well be 150 million years old!

So -- yes, I'm a Jurassic-age fossil, and I go around chasing down and eating humans. Well, OK, I don't eat people, but I sure FEEL old sometimes! Except when I'm painting -- that takes me away from real life for a while. But in some ways, I'm still kind of a dino.

Don't be surprised if you get an e-mail signed by Jurassic Mark. That would be me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Painting of Arches National Park

This is my latest painting -- finished just a few days ago! The size is a mere 11" x 14"/28cm x 36cm.

I mentioned on Wednesday's (28 Jan 2009) post about a trip we took to Lake Powell. One day of that trip, we (actually, I) hightailed it over to Arches National Park. This was the third visit I've made there and each time had only one day to look around! (Someday, we really need to spend a week there to see it all!)

This time around, I hiked up to see Delicate Arch up close (if you've ever seen a Utah license plate, you've seen this formation pictured on the plate). That hike wiped me out, it was getting late and the Park was surrounded by stormy weather, although at the Park itself, we had only alternating periods of sun and cloud cover.

On the way out in late afternoon, I saw this view which changed constantly as the wind drove the clouds across the sky, illuminating some distant formations, then casting them into shadow moments later. The foreground stayed mostly in shadow.

These are the kinds of scenes I live for. The lighting was magical, one could see forever, and the spires on the sides framed the view perfectly. Well, OK, I have one confession to make: the spires were separated by about 100 yards/100m and are not seen in the same view as I depicted them. Other than that, the painting, "Desert Moods" shows what I saw that afternoon. No apologizes necessary.

Again, as my tagline says: "The Vast Spaces of the Southwest" lives on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lake Powell

In late May, 2008, The Wiffee and I took a trip to northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah. Our first stop was Lake Powell. The area features some of that neat redrock scenery that's typical of that part of the country plus a reservoir created by Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Powell is under the management of the National Park Service.

Our room on the second floor had a balcony that faced the lake. This painting shows the view we had, which was always amazing around sundown. The only change I made was to replace some tall, bamboo-like reeds with some native low-growing shrubbery in the foreground.

But everything else appears just as it was early one evening -- a place of magic.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Soberanes Point

As you probably know by now, I paint a lot of desert scenes. BUT -- believe it or not -- deserts aren't the only landscapes I paint. (Quick! Put your head between your knees before you totally pass out!)

The attached image shows a painting I made in 2006 of Soberanes Point, a spectacular spot along the Big Sur coastline of central California. This is one of several works I completed over the years. In fact, I'd like to do more. I always felt my desert paintings are stronger than my work of other types of scenery, but I think I'm getting to the point where I would paint good coastal views as well.

Soberanes Point lends itself to dramatic treatment because of the lighting, low clouds, rugged terrain, composition and colors. I should be able to improve on this particular painting the next time I make another piece of this or other views of Big Sur. So if you'd like to acquire this artwork, let me know! It needs a home. Size is 22" x 28"/56cm x 71cm, unframed.

When I paint another version of Soberanes Point, what you YOU have me do differently? More lights and darks? More flowers? More or less sky? Or...?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Aren't They Cute?

A male Gambels quail on the left seems to be scoping out the cute female on the right.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Desert Hills

These two pictures show a set of hills north of Joshua Tree National Park, CA. The shot on the left was taken soon after dawn; the right-hand image shows the same hills about an hour before sunset.

Obviously it was partly cloudy today, which produces magical lighting -- in my opinion, anyway. For me, these pictures illustrate what desert mountains are "supposed" to look like -- rugged, jagged peaks that overlap and recede into the distance. Even when we're enclosed by mountains, scenes like these model my tagline: "The Vast Spaces of the Southwest."

The power lines, of course, make these images less than perfect if used as photographs. However, as a painter, I can eliminate the imperfections and insert foreground elements that, working together, produces moody and atmospheric artwork -- the kind I like the best!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Additional Website URL

I would have loved to have the name, for my Website, but that URL was already taken. So was

However, I WAS able to create That little hyphen made a difference!

Anyway, an easy way to find me now is to use the above URL. I set it up so it links to my "real" Website, which is So if you type in, you'll end up immediately at

As time goes along and I start including non-desert material, I'll probably create URLs that allude to the appropriate subject matter that would take you directly to those pages.

Fun, huh?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pinnacle Peak

The desert expresses several moods to me, and I try to show different aspects of those moods in my paintings. Sometimes the mood is simply a straighforward one, with blue skies, bright sunshine, lots of space. Sometimes I focus more on the surreal and other times I prefer the dramatic, or even a theaterical, edge.

The image I've attached is a scene that I felt deserved a dramatic touch. This is Pinnacle Peak, Arizona, northeast of the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. The morning I was there, cloud shadows and spots of light covered the desert. I made the shadows more obvious. Although it's a little small and hard to see in this reproduction, the spot of light in the foreground illuminates a cactus wren, going about the business of finding tasty goodies to eat.

Unfortunately, also the last time I was there, the area was not as pristine as I painted it. The flatlands at the base of this mountain had become open to development, and one can no longer get a clear view of Pinnacle Peak from its south-facing side due to the houses that have been built there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the Chief

I watched the presidential inauguration today. I enjoyed the pageantry and Obama's speech as well as some of the other events.

And wow!! What a lot of people in attendance! I wouldn't have been able to deal with the crowds, stand around on my feet for hours, and be in sub-freezing weather -- guess I've gotten too old and soft for all that. So I was one of many to watch it on TV. (I'm not sure which was worse -- the conditions I would have encountered in DC, or the incessant drivel I had to put up with from the TV commentators!)

I'm hopeful things will start to get better in this country and the world -- maybe sooner rather than later. Please join me in hoping!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Britney Spears

OK, I DON'T have any paintings of, or buzz about, Britney Spears, and I'm not a portrait painter, anyway.

If I did paint people, however, I think it'd be fun to paint her. I'm honestly not a big fan of her music -- maybe I'm too old or somethin' -- but I do consider her a really attractive female. I could see doing a Rembrandt-esque portrait with a dark brown background, her in dark clothing, and a pensive look on her face.

I would, of course, want to work from life as I worked on the painting, but I doubt that would ever happen -- I have absolutely no connections or clout with N-E-1 in the entertainment industry. And actually, I'm not into the celebrity worship that so many others are into. It would be fun to paint Britney, but that's about as far as it goes. Red carpet, sightings, Golden Globes, Grammies, Oscars et al -- BOR-ING!!!

So in the meantime, I guess I'll continue to paint landscapes, missions and the occasional fairy. Be sure and look for these on my Website:

(The picture of Britney comes from

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Harris Hawk Once Again

"Master of the Skies" is a female Harris' hawk, sitting on a skeleton of a saguaro cactus while a passing cloud shades the predator, leaving her almost silhouetted against the sky.

If I were a mouse or a bunny, I might be horrified by this sight. But as a human bean (?!?), I admire the beauty of these raptors.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Side-Blotched Lizard

Cute little guy, huh? This one was about 6"/15cm long, nose to tip of tail.

These are quite common in the desert. They breed throughout the year and can lay up to six clutches of eggs a year, with 2-6 eggs in each clutch. It's good that they're so prolific -- the desert has lots of critters that like to eat them!

Side-blotched lizards are rather colorful, but one has to get fairly close to see the colors. It, of course, is up to the individual lizard if you will get close enough to study him/her. But when you can, these reptiles seem to exhibit all the colors of the Southwest -- which happen to be my favorite set of colors.

And now I have some of the best photos I've been able to get of this species. Expect a painted portrait of this little friend sometime in the future.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Lazy Day

Good grief! I sure didn't get much done today -- too sleepy. I really need to start going to bed earlier!

I also need to get the latest painting photographed and posted. In the meantime, here is a detail from a larger painting I completed a few years ago. There's nothing like the desert in the spring! Good for a lazy day!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ajo Spirits and Joshua Tree

These are the only two paintings I have ever had printed (other than on my Epson printer, assisted by my computer). Ajo Spirits (on the left) were photolithographs, the other (Joshua Tree, on the right) were made as Giclees ("zhee-CLAY"), which are just fancy inkjet printer reproductions.

There are two reasons why I've decided not to pursue additional printing at this time: (1) it's an expensive investment; (2) the repros never look as good as the originals, especially when they're side by side.

Why is that, you may be asking yourself? Well, it's because I normally paint with glazes, a technique developed by the Old Masters. Glazes are transparent layers that, when applied numerous times, give the painting a stained-glass look because light penetrates the layers, reflects off of the canvas or panel and back towards the viewer -- just as light penetrates stained glass and appears rich and deeply-colored.

At this time, there are no printers that can produce the look of glazes. In fact, paintings that reproduce the best are those that feature an opaque paint film (so the light doesn't penetrate), no three-dimensional brush strokes or texture, and a matt finish (a glossy finish enhances glazes). I have created paintings that meet those criteria, but frankly, I would rather become known for making classical-looking works in the tradition of the Old Masters, although the paintings will still have a contemporary twist to them.

Without intending to, I've become a "purist" when it comes to my work. No prints. Although my paintings do look fine when reproduced, they lack much of the intrinsic beauty that the originals have. It's possible I'll need to make some tough choices in the days ahead, but for now, I'll need to keep painting and excuse myself from the print market.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Surreal Desert

The Surreal Desert -- that's the title of this scene in Death Valley, California. The raven wasn't actually in that particular spot that day, but since ravens do inhabit this lunar-landscape-on-earth, painting one into the view is well within the realm of possibility.

The desert is a surreal place, anyway, but so many sites in Death Valley take surrealism to a new level without even trying. And since surrealism is my favorite style of art (although I don't paint "pure" surrealism very often anymore), Death Valley is my kind of place -- as long as I'm not lost there without sunscreen and water!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mojave Light

It seems appropriate somehow to share a painting with sunlight breaking through the clouds. Today was Epiphany--the day the liturgical church celebrates the arrival of the Wise Guys to worship the young Jesus.

The scene is close to where we live (for any of you readers who know this area, this is near the base of the Yucca Grade, facing east). It's hard to see in the picture, but spring flowers pepper the landscape. The painting size is 8" x 10"/20cm x 25cm.

Happy Epiphany!! Enjoy the Mojave light.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolve Not to Resolve

I never did care much for making New Years resolutions. The resolutions I tend to hear about are things we should resolve to do every day of the year -- lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with family and/or friends, make more art (well, OK, that last one is something only we artists would think of!)

Still, I can think of things I really want to focus on this year. I wouldn't call them resolutions, exactly, but these are things I intend to focus on in 2009:
  • Exercise more and get the weight down (I'm a diabetic -- I ignore these issues at my own peril);

  • Paint LOTS of small paintings -- more options for sales;

  • Look for marketing opportunities that are not art shows or galleries.

For other areas of my life:

  • Make more art sales so we can get the credit card debt paid down (we've had to use CCs just to pay bills!);

  • Take to heart something a friend in Colorado told me about -- stop contacting "friends" who make no effort to contact me. After a while, it feels like I'm chasing them, and I've lost the motivation to try and keep up with them.
Wish me luck! Regardless, I resolve not to resolve.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thoughts of Spring...

...and it's only the second day of 2009.

But spring must be in the air. The desert bighorn ram on the left was acting rather amorously toward the ewe on the right.

"Where have ewe been all my life?"