Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wasatch Plein Air Paradise 2012

Summer Shade, 11" x 14" Oil on Canvas Panel
At the beginning of last year's plein air competition in Midway, Utah, a local rancher pulled his pickup over to where I was painting by the side of the road. He looked at me, rolled down his window and asked, "Is it that time of year again?"

Once again it's that time of year. Contestants in the main competition have all turned in their finished plein air paintings and the show opens this evening. One of my two entries is shown at the top of this blog post. You can find out more about Wasatch Plein Air Paradise 2012 at this link:

Besides the main competition and show there will be "paint outs" Monday and Tuesday, and a "quick draw" competition and auction Wednesday the 4th. These three events will take place in specific places around Heber Valley. All of the paintings created during Wasatch Plein Air Paradise will be exhibited at the Midway Town Hall at 120 West Main Street in Midway, Utah. Be sure to check out the Midway Art Association's website to see what else is going on. This is my third year in Midway's plein air event. It's a great show with works by a lot of well known regional plein air painters. Besides that, the Heber Valley area is such a wonderful place to paint!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Elderly Southwest Indian Woman

12" x 9" Pastel on Paper
Here's another portrait sketch from the weekly sessions. In keeping with the Southwest theme of the last couple of posts, this sketch is of an older Southwest Indian woman. This portrait was done in pastel on textured gray paper made specifically for pastels. The edge lighting in this portrait was especially fun to do and the dark tone of the paper helped achieve that effect.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Mexico Trip

Las Golondrinas Adobe Church, 8" x 10" Oil on Panel
Last weekend I traveled to New Mexico to do some painting and pick up a painting from a show in Albuquerque. There I had an enjoyable visit with Albuquerque painter Jeff Potter. The opportunity to paint in the Sandia Mountains was hampered by cloud cover and haze from nearby wildfires so Jeff and I headed north in his pickup truck looking for weather more conducive to plein air painting. We went to a living history museum near Santa Fe called El Rancho de las Golondrinas where we set up and painted on opposite sides of an old adobe church. The painting shown at the top of this post is the one I did there. After painting we took a brief tour of some of the other places on the old ranch where park guides told us a little about the history of El Rancho de las Golondrinas. I wish I could spend more time there. History is a big deal to me. It not only provides a standard to test modern progress by but gives insight into attitudes and problem solving methods quite different from what exists today. Some of those attitudes and problem solving methods could be very useful in these times.

Later that day the weather around Albuquerque improved and I was able to go to a place near Jeff's house and do a quick painting of the Sandias. 

Sandia Canal, 8" x 10" Oil on Panel
The trip home took me through a lot of typical New Mexico landscapes of long mesas and big skies. I look forward to my next painting trip there!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mojave Revisited

Mojave Byway  8" x 10" Oil on Panel
Last Weekend I painted in the desert near Littlefield, Arizona. This is the same area I visited last year and wrote about here.

After parking at the same place as last year I crossed the dry wash and explored around the joshua trees looking for a likely subject. Settling on one joshua tree I set to painting. As the painting progressed, the dry desert wind increased making painting difficult. Near the end of this joshua tree painting a paint rag blew from my pochade box. I got careless and stepped away from the pochade box to retrieve the paint rag. That's when a sudden gust of wind took my setup and contemptuously flung it into the dirt! Paint tubes and brushes flew everywhere. The brush washer crashed to the ground spilling all of it's solvent onto the ground and all over everything else. The painting had dirt and sticks stuck to it, extra smears of paint on it and - worst of all - solvent splashed all over it! The painting was destroyed. Why must I re-learn these lessons? After uttering some unkind comments about the situation I picked up everything and cleaned up the mess, which included wiping the wet painting down to the panel.

Being kind of late in the day and with the wind increasing, I really didn't feel like starting a new painting. Loading the painting gear back into the car, I threw on a day pack with extra water in it and hiked down the dry wash. After exploring around a little I found a better place to camp. Later I moved camp to the new spot. I was glad I found the new camping place. There was, after all, a dead cow too close to the earlier camp.

I did manage a small landscape pencil sketch of a joshua tree before sunset. Then I settled in for the night. The day had been hot and the night was warm, so I fell asleep without any need for a blanket. 

Later that night I awoke. There was a slight chill in the air so I grabbed a light blanket. Looking out into the desert night I saw the moon had risen. Silvery light from a waning moon flooded the Mojave Desert near and far, casting a seemingly supernatural glow onto the landscape. Shadows like hydras lay on the ground stretching from the bases of joshua trees, grotesque as if frozen in mid-writhe. It did indeed seem like a place spoken of anciently, where "...wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and...doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there." (Isaiah 13:21 AKJV) I really wish I could have taken a night hike then. It would have been a wonderful experience. But I had worked hard and hadn't had a full night's sleep in days. I was beyond tired. Because of physical weakness I wouldn't go out and cavort with the owls and satyrs. I rolled over and returned to sleep. They would have to dance without me...this time.

In the morning I awoke while the sun was still behind the eastern mountains. By the time I drove away the sun was well up. The morning breezes were gentle and the lighting to the west caught my attention as I drove down a dirt road, so I stopped and made the painting shown at the very top of this post. It was painted on the panel that had been wiped the day before. As this morning's painting progressed the winds began again to pick up and become feisty. Near the end of this plein air session I heard a noise behind me. I turned and watched as a dust devil passed about a hundred feet from me. If it had hit me it would have destroyed the morning's work. That provided motivation to quickly finish the painting and pack everything into the car. From there I drove to some red rock near St. George, Utah, where I hiked and did another painting. Maybe that'll be the subject of another post.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Charcoal Sketch - Native American Woman

Charcoal Pencil on Gray Paper

Here's another in a continuing series of weekly drawing class sketches. This sketch is another one that was done a while ago. She modeled for us a few times and was a pleasure to draw. As usual I spent most of the session concentrating on her face. Time ran out before I could finish the drawing so her clothing is indicated by only a few lines.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."