The Wall: Day 2, November 2, 2009

It seems only right to issue a disclaimer: this “journal” is public, but is mostly a record for myself, so I know where I started and where I got to (whether oriented or no). Don’t feel bad if it’s boring, and you have to quit reading. I’m talking to myself, a bit like those ladies on the bus that you’d rather not sit by; I’ll never know if you move to the back of the bus.

So yesterday, these were a couple of Red Barn scenes:



That was the first tarantula I’d ever seen. Handsome creatures, they are. This one was intent on getting inside the barn until I screeched the screen door and then it scuttled away. Richard Stephens tells me they migrate at this time of the year.

The empty space was just as expected. Still no water on the site except what Jer and I tote in — we even found the gallon plastic jugs with my notes (“Not for Drinking”) on them. What’s really important is all that lovely empty space.

I wish I had a video of today’s process. I arrived at the Barn when the sun was already making the desert look flat — but it was only 9 o’clock. I did my nest-making bit, finding the folding tables and setting out the vast quantities of materials that had traveled from Portland.¬† Then the real work started, getting the 7 panels cut, taped, and up on the wall.

I managed today to cut 4 panels, 4′ x 5′, (each having an additional 3 inches of canvas, blue tape all ’round, marking off the actual painting surface. The extra canvas will be stretched around stretcher bars.)¬† I must have all the panels, cut and in place, before I begin the Big Project.



As I measured and taped and pinned these panels to the wall and then sat back down to look at them, I was reminded of Dave Trowbridge’s comment on southeastmain:

“As for setting up still lifes, something I also struggle with, I did learn an interesting method from Joseph Mann. He instructed his students once to set up objects as though one was yourself, and the others were people in your life (family, friends, enemies‚Ķ) and to consider your relationship to each as you place the objects together.

These panel photos looked expectant to me, as if they were posing. Family portraits.



Note the open door to the right. The day got so warm (actually the sun blazed as if I were in the desert!) that I closed the big doors for a while — the sun was too much. But this photo was taken about 3 PM, after a lovely breeze arose and the sun was far enough west that it didn’t heat up the space too much. Now the panels look like they expect something important from outside — the tarantula maybe?


Four panels was as many as I cut and measured today. When I looked out at the landscape from the Barn door, I had the beginning of real doubts about whether seven panels are sufficient. Or perhaps they are wrong in their verticality. The space is too wide, the foreground too boring, the sky too oblivious. Jer suggested I turn the panels horizontal, which seems too obvious, but sometimes the obvious is that way because it’s also correct. I thought of halving them, horizontally, and painting two paintings per panel, maybe going east to west on top and west to east on bottom. Just to make life interesting. I’m definitely starting with PM paintings on the east side and AM on the left, which should unorient a bit.

Of course, it was 4 PM when I got to thinking these wayward thoughts. It’s definitely not my time of day to think.

I noted today that the Amargosa Valley doesn’t conform to the basin and range geography very well, or at least it doesn’t conform to my (limited) notion of basin and range geography. I’m going to do some web searches tonight. The valley has the long north/south ranges with valleys (basins) between in the usual fashion. But, at the far end, there are ranges which stretch across the valley, going east to west, side to side. I know the Amargosa River slithers around the end of the Funeral Mountains and dries up in Death Valley rather than sinking into its own playa. Perhaps it is pushed there by east-west ranges in the southern part of Nevada. More research is needed. Some rest is needed. And tomorrow is another day.

Reported from Beatty, Nevada, home to Beatty Days (just finished), the Atomic Inn, the Beatty Merc, and the Goldwell Open Air Museum Resident House, where I’m on my laptop, across the table from Jer, who is on his laptop <snort>

5 thoughts on “The Wall: Day 2, November 2, 2009

  1. Yes, you DO go, girl!! However, I may have to rethink a swing over to see you. I hadn’t considered the tarantula migration season – been there, seen that, don’t need to see it again. I do have a strong aversion to those eight-legged critters – pinhead size to bigger than my hand. The hair is still standing up on the back of my neck, just from looking at the picture.

    I was surprised you were doing vertical panels. Whenever I photograph in the desert I always start with horizontal images. Sometimes I think a change is required and I also do verticals. Inevitably the horizontals are the keepers. There is something about all that space stretching all around.

    Eagerly await paint appearance. Love, Del

    • Now, Del, that tiny tarantula was just saying hello, on its way through the valley. I’m sure it’s almost to the Grapevine range by now. Although her sister showed up this morning and then hid in full sight by the open Barn doors. I shooed it out before I closed the doors, so she too is on her way. A bit confused, I’m afraid. She had trouble figuring out which way to go after being poked by stretcher bars. I knew those bars we lugged from Portland would come in handy.

    • I couldn’t read your entire message on the WordPress page I was on — gotta revise those settings.

      Anyway, the tarantula has been sent on her way, as has her sister, with a good poke with a stretcher bar.

      The vertical panels are a deliberate attempt not to go with the horizontal orientation (duh — did I just say the obvious?). I want the space to stretch around and up and down. We’ll see if I can manage that. I just decided today that perhaps I needed 15 panels and six months, but that maybe I could manage with 7 panels (vertical as they are) and six weeks. Maybe next time….

      Thanks for checking in.

  2. Hi June, I’m glad to be reading another journal of yours, and will be following along with white-envy. Especially when I see that fabulous empty space, just waiting for WORK! to be done.

    I just finished a residency in Great Sand Dunes National Park, near Alamosa, CO, and am trying to process that crazy landscape. I will be posting a journal soon (I had no access to post daily, so now am caught up in tweaking it).

    Paint! Yes!

    • Hi Kathy,

      Let me know when you’ve got a post up. I feel like we are simpatico — who else falls in love with unoriented space and then tries to paint it?


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