Sunday, September 20, 2015


Badlands is my newest painting!

Carrizo Badlands,Anza-Borrego,California,CA,Desert State Park,ocotillo,cloud shadows,sundown,sunset,late afternoon,barren,desert
Badlands              18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm
This piece show the Carrizo Badlands overlook of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA. This is one of my favorite sites in the park, with the rugged hills, lots of ocotillo (those stick-like things with the red flowers at the tips) and lots of space to mediate on.

I don't do paintings of badlands formations very often. Frankly, badlands have a LOT of stuff to paint, and sometimes I'm just not patient enough, although I know I have to be to get the look I want.

I think I like the way this one turned out!

Your educational info:
  • "Anza" refers to Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, 1774;
  • "Borrego" is Spanish for "sheep," especially a youngun;
  • "Carrizo" is apparently the Spanish vernacular name of plants found in a carrizal, an area of reeds;
  • "Ocotillo" (oh-koh-TEE-yo) = “little torch” in Spanish.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

An Early Influence

Way, way back a long time ago (early '70s, when I was majoring in art at Cal State LA), I used to visit a weekly outdoor art show that took place on the grounds of Griswold's Old School House (in Claremont, CA), a complex that included a restaurant/smorgasbord, hotel, theater and shops. One of the regular artists there was a German immigrant who painted Southwest desert landscapes.

In my opinion, he was the best artist there in terms of achieving that classical, traditional look to scenes that the Old Masters never actually got to see. The artist typically had a mountain more-or-less centered, with either saguaro cactus or Joshua trees and lots of wildflowers. The works had such an old-world, skilled feel to them, and the landscapes appeared warm and inviting.

I wish I could have bought one of his paintings, but I wasn't working and didn't have the money for them, even though they didn't strike me as expensive. He often invited me to visit him at his studio and gallery in Pomona, but I never did.

And I never got his name or even a business card! At that time, I didn't realize that he would be an early influence on my present-day painting; in fact, he was really my first influence.

So I've been searching and searching for him, realizing he's probably deceased by now. What used to be called Griswold's has no records of that time.

Then, finally last night, I must have stumbled upon the correct search terms on Google, and I think I found him!

Karl Von Weidhofer

The Internet has only a handful of images of his artwork, but they resemble the ones I remember seeing at the art shows.

Desert,landscape,painting,art,Karl Von Weidhofer,influence
Desert Landscape          Karl Von Weidhofer

Sorry -- this was a small image, so the resolution isn't very high. And the composition isn't what I remember about the paintings I saw -- this view opens up in the middle instead of being blocked by a mountain.

Still, it should give you an idea of what it was that inspired me, even though I didn't know these paintings would come back to haunt me years later. The seed had been planted, and -- typical of my life in general -- it was a late-bloomer. And it blooms to this day.

This is a short bio of Karl as I found it in several places online:

Karl Weidhofer was born in East Prussia, Germany on June 8, 1920.  Weidhofer was in the German army when captured by the Russians during WWII.  While imprisoned for four years, he was taught to paint by a fellow prisoner. After the war he was reunited with his family in Bavaria.  He married and in 1954 moved to southern California.  For many years he worked as a lab technician for Pomona Tile Company while painting in his leisure.  In 1968 he became a full-time artist and began exhibiting his paintings in art shows held in malls and parks in southern California and the Southwest.  Weidhofer died at his home in Pine Grove, CA on Nov. 3, 2001.  Best known for his desert landscapes...

So -- is Karl the artist I remember? Maybe. The times and places mentioned in the bio would match where and when he would have been re: Griswold's in the early '70s.

He is indeed deceased -- lived to be almost 81 years old. I'll never get to tell him how he impacted my art forever.

But I'll continue to paint knowing Karl DID have that impact -- along with other artists who have shown me additional gems such as dramatic skies and lighting -- something Karl didn't get into.

Maybe you're painting right now in heaven, Karl. RIP.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Santa Fe Look

If you've been around for a while -- say, the 1980s -- you may remember a decorating trend called "The Santa Fe look." The dominant colors were mauve and teal -- not colors you actually see in the city of Santa Fe, NM with its emphasis of Pueblo Revival architecture. Supposedly, these colors represented the Southwestern desert, perhaps before sunset. (I never thought that, but others did).

The furniture used a lot of smoothed-and-varnished natural wood tree limbs; fabrics used mauve and teal. Artwork was sometimes abstract; otherwise, it was quite desert-themed, with cactus, agaves and other prickly plants and/or pueblo Indian pottery, structures, ladders -- stuff like that.
mauve,teal,Santa Fe look,1980s art,pueblo,Indian,cactus,desert
By "Teresa"
Unfortunately, I only have Teresa as the artist's name...I believe i saw this on eBay. I hope she won't mind if I showcase her work here.

This piece is very typical of the wall decor that was common during those years. (Note -- I'm NOT putting this painting down). Although it is desert-themed, I never got into the Santa Fe look. Too trendy for me -- I was more interested in developing as a more classical-realism painter -- I goal I continue to chase.

In fact, I got so tired of what I was seeing, and how readily people bought these things, that I made a sort of surreal version of the Santa Fe look in protest.

mauve,teal,peach,Santa Fe look,cactus,surreal,surrealism,desert
Parasonoran Life Zone
 As you can see, the landscape features broken stand-up cactus in Santa Fe-look colors. Peach was a color that was just being added to the mix, so the only color that is isn't "right" is the blue of the sky. Some viewers actually laughed when they saw this -- I glad they "got it" and saw the humor and sarcasm in it.

So if this look was profitable, why didn't I pursue it? Because it was a trend -- nothing to build a lifetime career out of. After all -- where is all that Santa Fe artwork today? Certainly not on collectors' walls or in art museums!

Eventually, mauve and teal faded into beiges and earthtones. Desert and pueblo subjects seemed to disappear. (One artist tried to discourage me from painting desert landscapes because that subject came and went -- I don't think he realized I wasn't making mauve and teal desert landscapes!)

And I hope that the paintings I'm making today will be around longer than the Santa Fe look of the '80s.