January 22nd, 2021
We are currently in the south eastern corner of California, where there is a wide sand-swept valley below sea level that reaches almost a hundred miles between distant mountain ranges. Superstition Mountain is a granitic stretch of hills that sticks up about 700 feet above sea level in the middle of the valley. Sand dunes have blown up to cover them. The border with Mexico is less than 20 miles to the south, and most of this area is owned by the US Navy. The whole region was a bombing range in the mid-1900’s, but the mountain itself is now managed by BLM, open to camping, hiking and recreational 4-wheeling. It is surrounded on two sides by active bombing ranges. The area is so vast that the bombing and machine gun training can only be faintly heard, and they usually happen at night. The Blue Angels winter training ground is directly overhead and January is noisy. Its kind of cool to watch them perfect their flying formations and maneuvers so close-up, but constant low-flying jet fighters are not conducive to quiet work.
There are literally miles and miles of open camping area. The weekends tend to be filled with buzzing 4-wheelers and motorcycles playing on the sand dunes and rowdy weekend campers. But during the week, we are often the only people here, and in the solitude, the desert goes about its business.
the art of art
I’ve taken this whole gouache thing very seriously. I thought that I would dabble with it in between watercolors, but I am soley focused on it now. I find that the main difference between the two mediums is that I can use black and even white pigment with gouache. Using watercolor, the white paper showing through the translucent paint creates a sense of depth and luminosity. Black sucks the vibrancy and life out of colors. But with gouache, white and black are mixed with the pigments and layered, building upon layers of color. They can be used as a wash, but their talent shines in the layering and building.
Every day I dabble with my new medium. I have a few varieties of reds, yellows, blues. When I walk out the door, I cant help but translate everything that I see into my color palette. The sky is ultramarine blue at the top which fades to a more pale turquoisy blue at the horizon. I see shapes and think about what colors I would use for their shadows and highlights. The curves of sand dunes and mountains make my hand twitch for a paint brush. When I see the atmospheric changes in colors in mountain ranges that fade into the distance, I think about how I would add white to create that tonality. I contemplate if the sand looks more ochre or cadmium at different times of day. In short, I am immersed. To add to the challenge of struggling with a new medium, I continue to try to paint landscapes. They've never been my bag. My strength lies in more illustrative, objective work. Its just that the colors and shapes of the vistas here have me enraptured.
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Artist, homesteader, teacher and adventurer. Turning over every literal and figurative rock that I can find, living curiously and creatively outside of the conventions of the common world.
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