Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jeffrey Pine

While atop Yosemite Falls the other day I started a painting of a Jeffrey Pine. I've put a little time into it and feel that it turned out alright. I've been looking for a subject for a larger piece and I'm thinking that this might be a a good one.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yosemite Falls again

On St Patrick's Day I hiked up to the top of Yosemite Falls again. This time I was with friends, Carlos and Sherry, who came to Yosemite to visit. There was more snow than when I came up on Christmas day, but there had been a lot more people to wear a path through it to more solid footing, too. It was a much more beautiful day, too, than my last visit, and we had a great time.

Carlos acted the part of Sherpa and schlepped my painting equipment up for me. We were a little short on time because we got a late start, but I sat down and roughed out a scene to finish later -- didn't want all of Carlos' efforts to be for naught.

They both did some clownin' around while I sat on the freezing cold rocks to paint. Oy, that wind really got to me, too.

Another beautiful view of Half Dome and we headed back down the trail.

It's always great to make these hikes, but it's a much more fulfilling thing when accompanied by friends - the experience shared.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recent work

Back from all of the vacations and such, I sat down and did a few paintings and a figurative/portrait inspired by the great time I had climbing. I also did a watercolour ... not my favorite medium ... but it worked well for a quick portrait of Meecah on a "thank you" card to Eldon and Kathie for watching our sweet doggie while we were gone.
.The guy featured in the painting is Carlos, who belayed me when I climbed. He was patient and thorough when he taught me the ropes! The radish painting was very much inspired by one of Del Gish's paintings of strawberries (of which I have a card print). Wish mine was as striking as his. I'll get there one day. And, of course, there's my old stand-by ... the violin. How many times have I painted that sucker? It's always a good model, though, hardly ever moves on me.

New Gallery

I was recently accepted into a gallery in Oakhurst, CA ... on the Hwy 41 entrance to Yosemite. It's a great location and there are some real nice people there. They put one of my paintings in the window and several more in a nice location inside. Also, one is displayed in a special section that they set aside each moth for different themes. This month it was on inspirational women, so I had them put up the one of Julia Parker (see earlier entry - The Last Miwok - October 20, 2010).

Hope all of you come out and buy lots of artwork.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Joshua Tree

I just returned from another "vacation" [how do you know if you're on vacation if you don't have a real job, though?]. Belinda's friends - and now I call them my own, too - get together every year down at Joshua Tree National Park, CA in the Mojave desert to climb, camp, and socialize. It's a great time and there are some amazing people that I've met and hung out with ... some in the very literal sense of the word.

I did a couple of paintings in the desert, which I found to be a spiritual, inspiring place. The part of the park in which we camped and climbed had no Joshua Trees, unfortunately. I thought that I would get a chance to paint some of those ... but it didn't work out that way. I've painted them before ... when I passed through J Tree in '06 ... but I was never real happy with that piece. Ah, well, there's always next year (can't wait).

This time I painted the rocks and the Yucca plants.

The first one that I did was in late afternoon and I was trying to capture the feel of the place; it's variety and depth and the feeling of oneness with self and place and spirit. That's kind of a lot to try to do in an 8" x 10" canvas while the sun hurtles through the sky ... but the painting does take me back to that place - that feeling, even if it doesn't work that way for everyone.

Painting in the desert is kind of strange. In one's mind, the desert seems to be flat. Perhaps that's just the perception that one reaches because of so much in-put over the years from movies and photos, etc. And, sure, there are places that are very flat, but where I was working, it was anything but flat --- but, strangely, not in an obvious way. The area is surrounded by mountains and the ground slopes toward them at subtle angles. When I was roughing out one of the paintings, I went to put in the horizon line where I thought that it should go and realized that it was much higher than anticipated. The ground is more slopes and angles than hills -- it's just unusual.
This second painting done in Joshua Tree, was done in the early afternoon and I was more interested in the shapes and feeling of the Yucca plant than anything else. Very fun.

I did do some climbing, too. Those of you who know me well, know that I'm not real fond of heights ... and especially edges. I was quite surprised to find that my fears didn't really enter into it. Once I had the harness on and had a person belaying me whom I put a lot of trust in, I didn't even think much about the height - it was more about where my next hand hold and foot hold would be. It was exhilarating and satisfying. I will definitely be doing more climbing in the future ... and I just happen to live in one of the big climbing Mecca's on the planet!

From J Tree we headed down to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It was very different than Joshua Tree. Yes, it's a desert, but it's the Colorado Desert ... different animals, vegetation, and rock formations. I didn't find it as appealing as J Tree and the wind was just ridiculous. Santa Anna winds, perhaps, with gusts up in the 60 or 70 mph range and a constant 30 to 40. Our tent was the only one in the campground, I think, that didn't get flattened at one time or another.

We did see some cool stuff in Anza, though. Our first hike took us up a canyon ... Palm Canyon, I believe, where we found a large stream coming out of the mountains. The trail followed the stream up to an oasis full of Palm trees. There was a brilliant rainbow over it, too ... at times a double rainbow. Spectacular and fastening. The palms still had most of their fronds, too, which they wore proudly, like giant grass skirts. I had schlepped my painting stuff up there to do some work ... but there was just no respite from that howling wind.

Another of our hikes in Anza took us to some ancient pictographs, and then to a cliff overlook where one could see across a large area of desert to mountains shrouded in clouds. I'm fairly certain that those mountains were beyond the border in Mexico. It was a fantastic sight.

I'm not too sure that I would ever return to Anza, winds or not, but it was an interesting place, nonetheless.