I was born and raised on the East Coast, but I love the desert. I find it spiritual and cleansing. It’s also beautiful and therefore I’m drawn to do paintings of it.
My experience painting the desert began a while ago with a trip to Santa Fe New Mexico. I enjoyed painting the adobe structures. Unfortunately, I haven’t photographed any of these early paintings (which aren’t very good). If I do I’ll come back and add them.
In 2004 we went to Fountain Hills Arizona and addition to playing a lot of golf we did some hiking. I painted this painting in 2004 from one of the photos I took on the hike. It’s 28 x 22 oil on canvas. I liked the painting, especially the highlights and shadows in the mountains, but always felt it lacked composition.
In 2012 we went to Utah canyon country, which is unbelievably beautiful. I wasn’t painting much at the time, but when I started again the photos from that trip were some of my first subjects. All three of these come from photos taken in Devil’s Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Park. These are all 16 x 12 water mixable oil on canvas.
We’ll start with my least favorite of the three, the toadstools. I suppose I should skip this, but in the spirit of sharing both the good and bad in this blog I’m including it. I didn’t really get a good 3D look here and the rocks below the toadstools never really worked.
This next painting is an arch and I like it better. I realized later that I missed an opportunity to get more highlights and shadows in the distant mountains. The 3D effect in the arch itself is good.
I actually did this one on my iPad too, after I did the painting. In many ways like the iPad version better. The Procreate tools allowed for much softer shadows and features in the arch itself. I also got better depth in those distant mountains.
The third, and my favorite, is from a photo of a series of hoodoos on a very flat sandstone rock. This actually looks much better in person than in this photo. The photo flattened it out. The actual painting is very 3D.
I also did a watercolor study of this before I did this painting. I’m generally not very good at watercolor. This is one of my better attempts at the medium.