Monday, August 31, 2009


Not Smokey the Bear, in this case... Smokey conditions!

By now, you may have heard of the fires that are burning in California. We tend to get rain at the end of the year and the beginning of the next, so by summer, everything is dry and ready to burn.

So far this year, we haven't had any fires in the desert. But the wind is blowing smoke from the other fires into our area. (A friend in Colorado mentioned the hazy conditions in her state are coming from California fires, too).

The desert is not particularly inspiring to be in right now. Besides the smokey smell and thick haze, it's also hot and humid -- none of that "dry heat" for the time being).

I'm still working on paintings of the high desert. But I'll have to admit: I'm not working from life!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Another Lizard

I've been on somewhat of a lizard kick lately -- either looking for them or painting them!

This is a desert spiny lizard. I've actually discussed this particular little critter in a previous post. But now I've finally completed a painting of it, sitting on the skeleton of a cholla cactus. There were some thin miscellaneous branches covering part of the lizard (as you can see in the photo), but I had no trouble filling in the hidden parts.

Fun! Painting lizards up-close is a little different for me, but I'm hoping there are others who like lizards as much as I do and who can't live without this painting!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The eBay Blues

Well, the paintings I had on eBay (mentioned in a previous post) didn't sell. So -- why not?
  • Not good enough;
  • No one is into California desert/Joshua Tree National Park scenes;
  • The people who might have been interested were away from their computers this week.

Some (but not all) of my Arizona landscapes normally sell, but I can't always count on that, either. And I don't think I'm asking too much -- $57 starting bid, shipping included, "Buy It Now" is $75. Is that unreasonable?

Is the economy still THAT bad all over the country?

Don't know. But a job opportunity came up that I applied for. If I'm hired, that will obviously affect my ability to paint and market my work.

But we'll see. A career change may be coming.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Infrared Ocotillos

I'm still painting my life away, but I thought for now, I'll post another one of my infrared photos of the desert. This scene shows an ocotillo in Joshua Tree National Park.

This is one of those views that screams "Desert!" to me -- lots of open space, and the special forms of the plantlife there.

I can imagine this will be a painting some day -- either in color or in "infrared" black and white. I think it'd make a great piece either way!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer in the Desert

Visiting the desert in summer is often thought of as being condemned to hell: torrid temperatures, rocks that melt, no signs of life anywhere except for the human tourist wondering why s/he came to this place of torment.
Well, a little of that is true. It does get pretty hot out here, although the temperatures haven't been as high this year as they sometimes get. Also, here in the high desert, we tend to be about 10 degrees cooler than Palm Springs and the rest of the Coachella Valley.

Flowers are scarce, especially during this dry year we've had. Wildlife, even cold-blooded critters like lizards and snakes, stay in the shade or underground until it cools off. The greens, yellows, blues and other colors of spring are long gone. The annuals that produced the flowers are also dried up and blown away, leaving little/no evidence that they were ever there.

BUT -- for a desert lover like me, the "off-seasons" still draw me into places like Joshua Tree National Park. In early morning or late afternoon, lizards are darting under dormant shrubs or rough boulders. Ground squirrels brave the heat to do whatever it is ground squirrels do. Coyotes trot along, looking for a tasty goodie.

And for me, brown and blue is my favorite color combination. I'm sure that's part of the reason why I love deserts. And let's face it: this time of year, my colors dominate.

The heat and the occasional monsoonal humidity does get to me. But the desert keeps the rare beauty that only deserts possess.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sigh! and New Paintings!

Re: sigh! -- well, I thought I'd try offering one of my more labor-intensive (and therefore pricier) paintings on eBay, didn't sell. I haven't decided if I'll try again with this piece or if I'll try something that doesn't show the desert.

In the meantime, I just posted these paintings on eBay (here are links for Joshua Tree on the left and Jumbo Rocks on the right). I can ask less for these pieces, and I hope some Mojave desert/Joshua Tree National Park fans will see them and decide they can't live without them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Fun in the Desert with Infrared

As usual, I continue to be fascinated by the look of infrared (IR) photography. As I mentioned in a previous post, most digital cameras are sensitive to IR and even have a filter in them that removes IR before the light reaches the sensor; otherwise, pictures could end up looking unexpectedly strange.

This is a photo taken earlier this year from Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park, CA. Toward the right is Mt. San Jacinto, the mountain that is largely responsible for creating the desert to the left. The city of Palm Springs lies on the flat area immediately to the left of the mountain. IR actually helps the town blend into the surrounding desert, since foliage of the non-native trees and shrubs is rendered white by IR. The white foliage, in turn, melts into the light-colored sands of the Coachella Valley.

IR also removes atmospheric haze. Mt. San Jacinto thus looks clearer and less distant than it actually is.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to do more traveling around the Southwest. But whenever that time comes, IR photography, as well as color, is on the agenda!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Jumbo Rocks

This is a new painting of an area in Joshua Tree National Park called Jumbo Rocks. I'd say it's a good name for the place!

The size of the painting is 8" x 10" / 20cm x 25cm.

Friday, August 7, 2009

More Desert Reptiles

Well, good grief! I'm falling behind in blog entries, aren't I?

That's partly because I started a second blog. It appears on a Website for The Desert Sun, a Palm Springs-based newspaper.

I'm limiting the subject matter and images to "the beauty and mystery of the deserts." I've posted a combination of photos I've taken and paintings I've made. Most of the other blogs at the newspaper are political in nature, and I wanted something that might, hopefully, make the residents of the desert glad they live there.

In the meantime, today the weather in the desert was a little cooler, so I thought I'd go hiking and try to get more pictures of lizards that I can use in paintings. As it turned out, I saw numerous examples of only one species. Oh, well. Maybe another time.

I'm not 100% positive, but I believe this is one of a number of whiptail lizards that live in the desert. This good-lookin' fella (or gal) is partly obscured by vegetation, but the pic shows how long the tail is -- that'll be good to know for the paintings!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lizards x 2

I've now done two paintings of this lizard. The first one (on the left) has all of the attention to detail, transparent glazes and all of those things that makes a painting really neat (IMO, anyway).

The painting on the right I produced with a particular customer in mind. She likes the first painting but can't afford what I need to ask for it. So I painted the second piece as what I call an "eBay painting": no glazes -- direct painting only; not as much stuff; and not a straight copy of any other piece I've done. It took about 1/3 as long to create as the first painting, and the varnishing process will also be greatly simplified: a total of two layers of varnish as opposed to seven for painting #1.

If it turns out the customer doesn't buy it, I'll offer it on eBay. And if it doesn't sell there, I'll have it available for an open-studio tour I'll be participating in this coming October.

Good thing I like lizards, huh? (But don't ask me to paint spiders. I can't stand those!)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Getting Behind!

OK, OK, I know. I'm not posting as often as I should. S'up with me, anyway?

Well, the point of my blog is talk about art (especially MY art!) and, in some cases, to discuss painting issues that most folks may not know about. But I've been making a major push in making small inexpensive paintings and art cards. I've been too busy making art to spend time writing about it!

So -- below I'm showing the latest three ACEOs which I posted on eBay just a few minutes ago. If I can do this right, I'll try to post links directly to their respective pages on eBay.

"Smoke Tree"


"Desert View"