Friday, May 29, 2015

The Southwest Seven

I've been home about a month and I leave in less than a week. I was just getting used to the comforts and distractions of my river studio/house and now it is time to uproot again. I don't mind change. Mostly, it's invigorating. But I do need to gather up fresh energy - a surplus, in fact - for travel. 

Finishing the Southwest Seven was key to my preparation for departure. I needed to make mental room for the next trip by letting these paintings go. I worked on them in order of my visits and my experiences in each state came alive while painting.

New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada all pulled together in the first studio sitting. Their beginnings were so clear and decisive that I followed my gut, trusting the original colors and marks. The resulting works are bright and crisp, capturing the dryness of the air. Then, I put too much pressure on Utah, perhaps because everything about that state was wonderful, including the original plein air. The composition and colors were right in front of me but I lost my "start", continuing to refine long past the second layer of paint. At that point, I had only a photograph for reference. Disaster! Printed images flatten perspective and dull color. I lost my way until I looked at an image of the painting on location. I squinted at it, recalling the energy surrounding that special site, and was able to finish with some success. Colorado was a bit of a struggle also, mainly because of the unfamiliar mountain shapes. In contrast, I was able to complete Kansas and Missouri fairly quickly. I know that as I headed east, the landscapes held familiar forms (like trees and water!) and I returned to the ease of painting the known.


I loved this leg of "Easel". I experienced everything from the super comfortable to the super uncomfortable. I saw wide open spaces and close-up details that I never could have imagined. Through fear and exhaustion, I grew in understanding of myself. I traveled the longest distance yet and I continue to love the open road.

The paintings follow in order of travel. 

Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico

Bell Rock, Oakcreek, Arizona

Lake Mead, Nevada

Escalante, Utah

San Juan Mountains, Ridgway, Colorado

Scott Lake State Park, Kansas

Ha Ha Tonks State Park, Missouri

I am really excited about heading Northwest in just 3 days. On my last long distance road trip, I will savor the luxury of traversing the country with much purpose and little structure.

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