Friday, February 20, 2009

Desert Wash at Sandstone Quarry

"Desert Wash at Red Rock"
7" x 10"
Original Watercolor

I painted this scene a couple of weeks ago. Bill and I drove out to Sandstone Quarry one weekend morning and I set up my folding chair and small table for my palette and brushes. We were in the big wash just to the west of the Calico Hills. It is so beautiful there and I could have painted a scene in any direction from this spot. There was a 30 foot high wall of sandstone just to my left where decades of flash floods have cut away the hillside. You can see a few shrubs growing out from it on the left side of the painting. I wondered if we were in a bit of a wind tunnel because of this land feature but I decided to set up regardless and about half an hour later when I was half way through the painting the wind came through there at about 20 miles an hour. Just a strong breeze really but it blew my umbrella down five times over the next half hour. The umbrella was attached to my folding chair with a hefty bungie cord so I reached down and swung it back up each time it blew down. Eventually I just held on to it with my left hand until I was finished painting. Next time I will bring at least two bungie cords. Bill was hiking around the area taking his beautiful photographs so I didn't see him for a while. Otherwise he would have fixed the umbrella situation immediately because he's good at solving problems like that. The more tools and fasteners to use the happier he is.

One of the interesting things about these wide washes is that the scrub oak trees grow so big in them. I thought about this for a while and my theory is that the wide grey gravel areas act as a natural fire break so the trees are protected somewhat from the lightning fires that strike here several times every season. So the trees have a chance to grow old enough to get so tall and full. I"m glad they're here. They are beautiful and they are full of birds that sing and fly from one to another. It was a lovely morning.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Art demonstration at Mohave High School

This is a picture of three of the students from the drawing class and their instructor, Ms Walla Nagazi who is second from the right. I am second from the left.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving an art talk and watercolor demonstration to the 7 a.m. drawing class at Mojave High School here in Las Vegas. Ms.Walla Nagazi is the instructor of this class and she is doing a first-class job with these students. I saw many drawings and paintings in the office hall gallery, the art building halls, and in the classroom. There were examples of still-life, portraiture, landscape, interiors and architectural drawings. These drawings showed attention to a full range of values, strong compositional devices, and the willingness to tackle some complex imagery. I was quite impressed.

I had brought along a sketchbook and my pocket palette so I showed the students how easy it is to draw and paint in a sketchbook on a daily basis. Then I talked about “breaking through the picture plane” by composing with diagonals and finally we got into the watercolor painting. I was determined to paint from the initial graphite sketch right through to the finish of the painting because I wanted the students to see it completed in 45 minutes. I kept checking the clock and thinking “Must paint faster!” But we got it done!

There must have been at least 25 students in the class and they were all so considerate. This was one of the most attentive groups I have demonstrated for. Some students brought out more of their artwork after class so I had the chance to talk to a few of them about their individual works. It was gratifying to see many strong examples of personal expression. It must be a pleasure going in to teach every day when you have such a nice group of young people greeting you in the morning.

"Scrub Oak In Red Rock Canyon"
9" x 9" original watercolor
This is the demonstration painting for the class. After I got back to my studio I lifted some of the darks out of the tree with a small bristle fan brush and replaced them with the green malachite color I had used in the shrubs. This was to unify the painting a bit. I then put in more trunks and branches. I also added shrubs in the lower right corner and put in a few grass effects. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sketchbook Page

This little watercolor ( 7" x 9") was painted on 90lb. Fabriano Traditional White cold press paper. It is one of my favorite papers as it has a softer surface than others. I really wanted to paint a pomegranate in watercolor since the piano teacher I take my granddaughters to has a pomegranate tree in his backyard and he has graciously given them fruit from this tree.

Sketchbook Pages