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Posts tagged landscape

Clay and Lichen

A documentary on the progress of a layer of clay descending a dune
clay and lichen rev
Oil on maple, 24 x 18 inches

For more than a decade, we have been watching a layer of clay slowly descending a slope of the Empire Bluff. Usually, the ‘necklace’ stands out as a vegetation-free band. But on a winter day, it was nicely accentuated by snow.

I have given up walking around this aspect of the bluff out of concern that there suddenly could be a slide of clay. Two decades ago, the north-western most tip of the dunes at Glenhaven caved in after I walked there with my dog. Since then, I have grown to respect the forces of nature here.

Post-Painting Depression

I’m back in Portland, Oregon, from my six-week Nevada sojourn. But I haven’t unpacked my big linen canvases yet. I am almost afraid to do so, fearing that they are completely banal, hence total failures (banality is worse for me than bad).

In part, this reluctance has to do with various coming home challenges — burst pipes, unreliable contractors, relatives using the house in unexpected and unnerving ways. But in part, it’s simply because I don’t know what I did, although I am fairly certain I did not manage to un-orient, and my feeble attempts merely feel like they may be so feeble as to look feeble-minded.

Well, you see where I am. I began last February and March, 2009, living with the desert and Beatty, Nevada, painting small masonite panels, getting to know the territory and its inhabitants. This November sojourn, however, was more limited and almost entirely devoted to the Amargosa, which became more and more fascinating as I spent 6-8 hours a day, alone with the scene, for the full month of November.

So here are photos of the seven panels, plus the full panorama. These were taken as the panels were still on the wall of the Red Barn, under under limited lighting conditions. The exception is the full panorama, which was lit andphotographed by professional photographer, David Lancaster.

I am showing these in part to bolster my own sense of dignity and/or bravado.

panel1WjouUnoriented Amargosa (panel 1, east), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009

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Unoriented/ Oriented: Painting the Desert

This is a double posting,  ruminations from Day 29 of my Residency at the Goldwell Open Air Art Museum. So if you’re reading the residency journal, this is all old news.  And it’s really an essay ruminating about the experience during the last few days of our stay. I will almost certainly publish images of the final result of the painting when there is a final result. But this is mostly just thinking, ruminating, rummaging.

I told Jer this morning that I should be able to “finish” these canvases in another two days. Tonight I’m not so sure. But I’m not going to show any more photos of them until I’m fairly confident that I’ve done as much as I can see to do. The panorama  does have a name, which for me means it’s close to being done. I’m calling it “Unoriented: The Amargosa Desert.”

I spent an hour this afternoon (when my eyes and brain could no longer deal with painting itself) reflecting on what I had wanted to achieve and what factors were involved in getting me to this stage of the work. I wrote these “reflections” down in my notebook, knowing that by this evening I’d be totally clueless as to what I was thinking at 2:30 PM.

It’s very nice to have a handsome notebook, even though when I read back through this month’s entries, I often haven’t a clue what I was talking about.

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Light makes space


I occasionally worry that my tendency to analyze—some might call that an understatement—could be a negative influence on my work, causing me to lose spontaneity or fall into one rut or another. But I’ve now proven to my satisfaction that any effect is both unconscious and ineffective. Here’s how it happened.

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Dark blue snow

I just visited the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where I saw, among other things, a couple of Rothko paintings and a Barnett Newman. Maybe that’s why this installment of the continuing Yellowstone day is more colorful than previous ones (see parts one and two).

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Devastations dark and bright

I drove through parts of Yellowstone a week ago, just a day after the Park (as it’s known locally) opened to automobiles. (I had been hoping to bike in the car-free weeks before that, as I normally do, but the weather was uncooperative.) Despite my regular visits, and posts to this blog, I realized I’ve never shown any photographs of the thermal features for which Yellowstone is justly famous. I have made a few before—surprisingly few—but somehow they never appealed much to me. For some reason I can’t put my finger on, this time felt different, and there are several images I’m willing to publish.

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