Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Desert Paintings III -- Deep Canyon

Deep Canyon is a special place south of Palm Desert, CA. It is one of a number of places I've painted numerous times -- different with each execution, yet similar in what the artwork shows. As in the previous two posts, I'd like to share a few examples of paintings I've made of Deep Canyon and the ocotillo-covered hills that surround it.

This is the most recent piece I made. Deep Canyon itself is barely visible here -- it is down below, to the right of the closest ocotillo. This view is the most literal view of the area (except for the cloud shadows), with the Little San Bernardino Mountains in the far distance, the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains on the other side of the Canyon, and the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains in the foreground.

Here is a similar viewpoint with a peninsular desert bighorn sheep ram intruding into the space. These magnificent animals are endangered -- I hope they somehow manage to survive the loss of habitat the sheep are enduring at the hands of humans.

This is the smallest of the paintings -- 8" x 8"/20cm x 20cm. The other works are much larger. Instead of the grand vista I typically portray, I focused on a more intimate portion but (hopefully) still captured the sense of place and the vast distances found in the desert. In this case, Deep Canyon is almost dead-center.

Finally, these two examples are the least literal of the view of Deep Canyon. I added bighorn sheep to each of the paintings. In the second piece, I went for a much more dramatic interpretation than any of the other creations

Although I'll continue to paint many other desert scenes and, in some cases such as Monument Valley, I'll produce numerous pieces of the same or similar views of those places, too, these three desert spots that I discussed in these three posts are views that I could capture over and over and over again. These sites seem to scream "desert" to me, and they touch me in ways I can't really explain.

I keep returning to these places, and I hope they'll make you want to go there, too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Desert Paintings II -- Joshua Tree National Park

Last time, I began a short series of special desert places that I keep returning to because I love to make paintings of those places. This is Part II of a three-part series.

Joshua Tree National Park is a region I live close to and that I love to visit. So far, there's one site that I've painted many times over, although it has changed over the years.

(Sorry about the less-than-stellar quality -- these were scanned from slides, made before digital cameras were around!)

I always liked the "V" made by the Joshua tree on the left and the rock formation (I believe climbers call it "Eagle's Nest" or something like that) on the right. I usually paint clouds that repeat or add to the "V," and it didn't matter to me if the scene appears in daylight or under the magical glow of a full moon.

This is a much more recent -- and smaller -- version of this scene. Unfortunately, Joshua trees tend to grow toward the sun, resulting in imbalances that often cause the trees to fall over in time. All of the above paintings are based on photos I took, since the scene now looks like this:

This photograph of how the site looks today shows the changes: the Joshua tree (which has finished toppling over, and the suckers have grown longer) is surrounded by a parking lot complete with trash dumpsters.

I imagine I'll create more art based on this Joshua tree scene -- the way it used to look!