|Springtime on the Sevier, 11" x 14" Oil on Canvas Panel|
The Basin and Range area of Utah doesn't have the abundance of superlative landforms other parts of the state do. Some see it as empty and useless, fit only for radioactive waste dumps or to be run all over by ATVs until the sparse desert vegetation is gone. The land has it's beauty, though, and is far from "wasteland." The West Desert, as I like to refer to it, is a place of broad sagebrush valleys, hills and mountains, many with scattered patchworks of juniper trees. It is a land of sandstone mingled with basalt, lava, and jumbled rounded outcrops of granite. The landscape varies from gently rolling hills and low mountain ranges to jagged barren mountains that look like they're from a different planet. The hills and mountain ranges are separated by wide open valleys that draw the eye across vast distances. The scenery changes for the traveler sometimes subtly, gracefully, sometimes jarringly. Water is very scarce. Wildlife includes pronghorn antelope, elk, deer, antelope squirrels and kangaroo rats, curlews, ravens and horned larks, gopher snakes, rattlesnakes, tarantulas and horned toads. Human communities are few, small, and very far between. The West Desert is a land of subtle hues; golden summer grasses, blue green sagebrush, the bright yellow blossoms of late summer rabbitbrush, the earthy warm greens of juniper trees, and an endless variety of grays, ochers, muted reds and blues. It is a land full of light, and a land that exudes mystery both day and night. It is among my favorite places to explore and paint.
The painting pictured at the top of this page is of the Sevier River in Sage Valley. Sage Valley is a middle-of-nowhere place of hills, bluffs, and river plain, covered with a scattered patchwork of juniper, grass, sagebrush and greasewood.
As I turn the car from pavement onto the winding dirt road, I'm greeted by the sparkling glitter of abundant mica mixed in with the tawny-gray dust of the road. The sparkles in the road accompany me for many miles. On one trip, two dazzlingly brilliant white birds spring from the top of a juniper tree as I drive past. I brake to a stop to see what these glorious angelic-looking things are. As they rise above the tree and begin to turn, their dazzling brightness darkens and they turn into ravens. The angle of sunlight had been just right.