Monday, December 31, 2012

TSEGI Canyon de Chelly

     This place always seems to have some kind of spiritual connection for me. It can be just certain feelings or images in my mind, or one time I got really ill in the middle of a painting and it took a couple days in the campsite to recover. It is a beautiful and enchanting valley with a long and dramatic history. There were wars in the canyon between the Indians and American Cavalry. The Indians were sent to Oklahoma and then brought back again. You must have a guide with you to go down into the Canyon and he must own property down there. There are also old 6 wheel drive Trucks that take groups of people for tours. They have to know where to drive because of the quick sand.
     The river used to take a little different path every year to erode the bottom of the canyon in more of a flat manner. The Army cane in a planted 100s of Cottonwood trees to "stop the erosion". What it ended up doing was to cause the river to erode huge ditches making it very difficult for the inhabitants to navigate down there with their vehicles. The trees all turn colors in the Autumn causing the bottom of the canyon to "glow" when you are down there. The yellow trees light up against the purple canyon walls creating a gorgeous and wonderful marriage of light and color.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


     This is one of those scenes I've painted before, but for me, like Monet's hay stacks or waterlilies..I continue to be inspired by it. It is a place that is close for me to drive to from where I live in Arizona. I have been going there for many years, camping, hiking, and painting this lake from different spots. On this particular piece, I wanted to give priority to design and spontaneous brush work with a minimum of detail. I keyed the painting in from the front bottom and moved up while working back and forth somewhat with "atmospheric perspective" in mind. Then I went back over it, adjusting areas I felt needed more or less. I think I kept it simple and said all I wanted to say.
     In the Design, I tried to use all the painting elements in support of the bowl in the distant snow covered mountains. Art rules are made to be broken, but I usually try to follow a few guide lines in the "Sequence" of the painting process. I like to start fast with more emotion and as the painting progresses slow down and put more thought into it. I work Large to Small shapes and brush sizes; Thin (but not runny) to Thick paint; Dark to Light values; Brush work and painting handling Loose to Tight. I always do thumbnails sketches and then a final drawing, and I like to work from a small field study for color information.