Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bryce Canyon Trees

16x12 Oil on linen
Original & Prints Available 
 
I was not fully aware of my fascination with the trees at Bryce Canyon, until I reviewed the many photographs taken while there. One image after another depicted the desert landscape with a tree as the focal point. Evidently, their ability to flourish in such rugged conditions was an inherent source of preoccupation.
 
Several months ago, I considered painting this image of a single tree growing at the top of a cliff.  I hesitated for quite a while, because I thought it would lack dimension, but something kept telling me to paint it anyway.
So I sat down with a blank canvas and got started. The hours passed by effortlessly and before nightfall, the painting was nearly complete. Its simplicity and abstract qualities was a nice change from the detailed landscapes and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.
 

The following day, I viewed the progress from a distance. There were several interesting observations. On the left side, there was a thriving tree, supported by a seemingly transparent stone formation. The structure revealed long and branching roots. Colors were brighter and brush strokes more random. I decided to emphasize this concept of energy by adding the shining sun in the corner, with diagonal rays aimed in that direction.

To the right was this lifeless opaque mass, but I started to imagine its potential for growth. A seed from the tree could easily travel in the wind and germinate the neighboring foundation. I also noticed the thin line of connection at the bottom of the canvas, bridging the two masses.  Under the right conditions, this side too, could thrive…

And if that’s too much to consider, we could always just settle for a pair of bookends. J


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Canyon Hike


16x12 Oil on Canvas
Original & Prints Available

This painting is in continuation of my southwestern landscape series. I used a stretched cotton canvas, first underpainting with burnt sienna and layering with oils. Halfway through it, I struggled with the roughness of the surface, wishing that I had selected a linen canvas. The extra effort caused me to reconsider the possibility of consistently using linen for these detailed kinds of works. But in the end, this is the type of painting that I would like to recreate. It expresses the desert heat and rustic atmosphere that I hoped to portray.

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When I caught the first glimpse of Bryce Canyon I could hardly grasp its enormity.  It was neither the depth nor the scope of the Grand Canyon, but impressive, nevertheless.
For the first several hours, nearing the lookout points was almost impossible, but as the hours passed, I started to trust the security of the metal fences and approached them with greater ease and proximity. I wanted to see more of the landscape, before it was too late. This single day excursion would quickly come to an end.
Then I decided to experience the area from a different perspective.
Descending to the canyon floor began at the landmark of Sunrise Point. To ensure a safe distance from the edge of the path, I tip-toed for the first several switch-backs, holding on tightly to my tour guide ;) . We were surrounded by hoodoos and dirt slides, which had steep drop-offs near the trail’s edge. Needless to say, there were several times I thought of turning back.
But reaching the middle ground was more than a relief.  All doubt about my ability to complete the hike vanished. With a sweaty brow and throbbing heart, I would stop here for a moment to catch my breath and drink water. I was no longer a timid tourist, but totally absorbed in the picturesque landscape. I was captivated by the blanketing blue sky that contrasted with the rust tones of the towering rocks. The roots of an artistic mindset were ever present, once again...
And even though I knew it was only uphill from this point, I could hardly wait to venture beyond that Bedrock door, pass through the Navajo Loop and conclude the climb at Sunset Point.

 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stop, Drop, and Paint!

Benji
7"x5" Acrylics on Panel
Sold ~2014
 
Whenever I receive a request for a commissioned painting, I stop what I’m creating and try to meet the client’s needs as quickly as possible.  After all, I believe it takes a lot of thought and guts for someone to contact an artist for custom work, whether or not they know them.
 
So when an email for a custom dog portrait recently came through, I was thrilled to do the same and dropped my southwestern series to tend to the important business at hand.
The potential client first explained that she received three small original paintings done by me several years ago. They were given to her as a gift from one of my friends, here in town. (Great! She already knows my style).
I immediately recalled those 5”x7” paintings. They were images of this client’s cat and two dogs. My records indicate that was four years ago. (I am glad that I keep detailed account of my work, just for instances like this.)
(Sold) Maggie 7" x 5" ~ 2010
 
This new client asked if I would paint a dog portrait in the same size.  It would be a gift to her mother. Needless to say, I was touched and honored!
(Sold) Toby 7"x 5" ~ 2010
 
We discussed a few additional details via email, and then I got started.
When I received her approval of the final image, the package with Benji was mailed and on its way, in about two weeks from the initial contact. I attribute this rapid turnaround time to good team effort, with specific email communications, and a great reference photograph.
 
(Sold) Spunky Grey Poodle 7"x5" ~ 2010
 
There was yet another interesting bit of coincidence associated with this art transaction. As it turns out, this new client lives in the same small town as my grandmother! We agreed that we will try to meet each other, the next time I head north to Grandma’s house J
 
Art has a very long shelf life and a rather delightful way of bringing folks together :) 


Friday, March 7, 2014

A Common Theme

12x16 Oil on Canvas
Prints & Original Available 

While hiking along the southern rim of Bryce Canyon, this immature pine tree with exposed roots caught my attention. Speaking in terms of the human element, it appeared to be clinging to the edge of the cliff, as if to obtain the closest view possible. But once I began taking inventory of the southwestern landscape in general, I realized there were many scenes, just like this one. (My previous painting, Wall Street is another example).
Pine trees flourished in places that I would have never imagined, deep inside the desert canyon walls and high atop rock formations. A thought kept running through my mind, “That tree doesn’t belong there!”. 

On the other hand, folks living in that region may disregard this as something worth mentioning, because of its commonality. This subconscious immunity is something that inhibits our creativity and dulls our senses. It causes us to seek places “somewhere else”...you know, the ones with a Grander view. But the truth is, if we continue to dig deeper, we can rediscover the unique treasures that exist in our very own back yards.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Landscape Painting Commentary


24x36 Oil on Linen

This is the final version of my Bryce Canyon painting. Placing the leafy bush in the foreground interrupts the monotony of the horizontal landscape plains. This also causes a shift of green tones to the right and introduces a vertical element. In that respect, I believe the bush serves as an acceptable solution for breaking the flat composition.
On the other hand, there is still something missing. I thought about adding a hot air balloon somewhere in the sky or more rocks to the edge of the cliff.  But after much contemplation, I realize that I am unable to determine what more the painting needs, if anything, and have called it complete.  

Sometimes there are problems with paintings that we, as the creators, cannot solve. So, we settle, put them aside, and move on to the next challenge of bringing our mind's vision to life…