Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winter in the Grand Canyon

 Here is a recent 9x12" oil painting inspired from a hike last March.  It was an overcast day but the sun was illuminating the snow on the south rim.  This was about a mile down-trail from Indian Gardens, as my wife and I made our way back to the south rim after spending two nights at Phantom Ranch.  In my painting, I really wanted to emphasize the soft light of this wintery morning.  I have included the photo and sketch below, sources for my painting. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finishing Touches

After a few weeks of checking out  my painting on my living room wall and a valuable critique by an artist friend, I made the finishing touches on my big Grand Canyon painting.  The changes may seem minor but they helped keep the center of interest just that, the most important area of the painting without other areas distracting from it.  In case you haven't guessed, the focal area is the bright orange and red area in the center/left portion.   I did a little darkening around the juniper tree on the bottom left, darkened the little pink cliff near the lower left, made the sweeping purple clouds less purple and lighter, and simplified the lower right corner.  Compare them for yourself with the image below.  My thesis presenation will be on November 19th if anyone is interested, 3:00-3:50 in the Chapel Room at Prescott College.  This painting and the artwork leading up to it will also be on display, hopefully for the weekend of November 19-21 also in the Chapel Room.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fireplace Springs

When I thought I knew of all of the trails in Prescott, I found another gem.  I heard about Fireplace Springs from a friend and decided to find it.  This trail was not in any of my books but I found it on Sharlot Hall Museum's website, of all places.  Check it out: http://sharlot.org/archives/maps/trailmaps/index.html.  My wife and I parked at the Thumb Butte Parking area and began hiking North.  Amazingly, we found this tucked in Riparian area and with brilliant fall color!  The air was crisp and moist from recent rains.  I will certainly come back to this area. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


 "Ponderosa" is a 12x16 oil painting I just completed this morning.  I've included the charcoal sketch I used as a reference for the painting and the original source of inspiration, a photograph taken near Flagstaff May of 2009 during early morning.  As you can see, the painting has changed significantly from the photograph, which was my intention.  I don't want to copy the photograph but paint a landscape that is about processing the scene through my creative filter, concentrating on mood of color and light instead of the details of a photograph.  I really should be working on my thesis, but I felt like I needed a boost from a morning in the studio.  I rationalized this by waking up at 6am so I would still have all of the afternoon to work on the left brained stuff.  Plus, I can't work all day on one side of the brain...  Sorry about all of the shiny spots on the image above, the painting was still wet and probably will be for a couple more weeks.  I used a comination of palette knife and a #10 brush on this painting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

9th Annual Employee Art Show

I am participating in our 9th Annual Employee Art Show at the Frame & I Gallery.  You are invited to join us for our reception during the 4th Friday Art Walk, October 22, 6-8pm.  See you there!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Secret Canyon

Today, my wife Denise and I went to Sedona to hunt down some fall colors.  What better place to find them than in Secret Canyon?  We were a little early for peak fall colors, but we were pleased with the color we found.  The secret about this place is that it is not crowded.  We only saw four other people the whole time.  Maybe it is the 3.3 miles of rough road to drive to the trailhead and the 8-10 mile round trip hike.  Either way, we enjoyed the cool shade of Secret Canyon and the contrast of red rock to vibrant green and yellow foliage.  I really should work on my thesis but this seemed more exciting, so I thought to get this distraction out of the way before getting back to writing.  I have the hardest time writing about my own artwork, not how I did it or what the subject is, rather, what are my intentions and objectives for making art.  I've got to dig deep and get to the point instead of floundering around.  I think I will start with some freewriting....  Enjoy these pictures, but you must keep this place a secret.

The photo above almost looks like an Eliot Porter, one of my favorite color photographers.  Click on this link to see my all time favorite Eliot Porter photo: http://www.cartermuseum.org/collections/porter/collection.php?asn=P1990-51-4079-1&mcat=3&scat=11

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fossil Creek Day Hike

I took a break from schoolwork to be refreshed by the beauty of Fossil Springs.  I was last here about five years ago and since then, the dam has been demolished to the normal creek flow level.  This was part of an effort to make the creek wild again.  The tempature of the water was warm enough to swim in the 85 degree weather.  Such a perfect day to be there, not too many people.  Although we did see our share of folks.  I was warned that since Fossil Creek was publicized as a wilderness area, it became much more popular to visit.  Hence, more trash was visible, yet not as much as I was fearing.  Maybe the rains from earlier in the week had washed the trash out.  I was disturbed to see the trash and wonder what goes through people's heads when they choose to leave litter when they so willingly carried down to that point.  Has the litter become that much heavier?  It is a four mile hike and many that hike this trail are not prepared for the potential hot climb out.  We hiked out in the late afternoon and just made it out as the first stars appeared in the sky.  The air was cool and once in a while a warm draft of air would raise from the canyon below.  We were about a mile from the trailhead on the way up, when we saw three young teenagers making their way down, carrying their bedding and food by hand, in duffle bags.  Sheesh, what next?  They will regret having to haul their stuff up on the way up.  Builds character, right?  I don't see this hike as difficult but it can be in the blazing/hot sun during summer months.  An ill prepared hiker puts themselves in danger by not having enough water.  Here are some of my favorite photos from the hike.  Enjoy! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Surprise!! More Grand Canyon images.

I had a little spare time to go through some photos I took last May from Shoshone Point.  I am looking forward to doing this more often, looking through my photos, editing them and thinking about sketching them for possible oil paintings.  I have been very busy lately writing my thesis, and I have just sent in my first draft to a couple readers for imput.  Cross you fingers nothing is drastically wrong with my writing.  I've spent so much time on it already and know I must still revise it to perfection by the end of November.  I anxiously await spending more time on my artwork and less time on schoolwork starting January 2011! 

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Cedar Ridge

From Hermit Trail

From Hermit Trail II

Kaibab Juniper

from Kaibab Trail
Here are the charcoal sketches I mentioned in my last post.  I worked from photographs, using about a one-inch piece of compressed charcoal.  Each drawing measures about 12x10 inches.  The idea behind doing this step is to extract the essence of the place from the photo.  A photo often shows too much to be used in a painting.  I've found a lot of my creativity is lost by working directly from a photo, losing myself in trying to copy exact colors and details.  A painting should be filtered through me, to become a landscape painting that communicates my perception of the place.   I then paint directly from these sketches, making up the color as I remembered seeing it in person.  The sketches serve as a value study and a place to experiment with different designs, like moving a tree slightly or darkening a certain area.  To me this is an exciting part of creativity where I can use my imagination!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oil Studies

9x12, Hermit Trail Study
16x20, Kaibab Juniper Study

9x12, Kaibab Study
8x10 Cedar Ridge Study (Kaibab Trail)
These are oil studies that became part of my big painting posted earlier on this blog.  They are done from charcoal sketches from photographs I took on two different hikes last winter and spring.  I hiked the Kaibab and Bright Angel Trail the first weekend of March and the Hermit Trail during the first weekend of April.  The charcoal sketches I did served to extract from the photos the essence of the scene, not worrying about every detail.  I will post some of the sketches as part  of my next posting.  I took these sketches into my studio and used them as a direct source for these oil studies.  I made up the colors in these studies, not looking at the photos again.  I wanted to create a painting using more of my imagination, drawing from my experiences when I was hiking and thinking on how I remembered how it looked, not how the photograph looks.  I used a palette knife to paint these.  I painted five different scenes in 8x10, re-worked them in 9x12, and chose two to paint at 16x20 before I began the big painting.