Petrified Forest Residency: Travel, Sept 19

Caldwell, Idaho: too tired, too rainy, too much road, too tacky the surrounds, to do any painting outside tonight. I did drag out my colored pencils and sketch pad and ended up doing a pseudo-watercolor (pseudo because it was sketched and then scratched in with watercolor pencils and brushed over). I wish this piece were more Hopper-esque; the motel, while staffed by very pleasant folks, has the blankest walls and is the least alive place I’ve seen. The view out the window is of the roof of the entrance drive.  I found myself wishing for some motel art! I dabbled in some exciting TV scenes, thinking of lonely people in motel rooms, looking to the TV for their life.

The paper, a new sketch pad, wasn’t meant to be painted on, and my colored pencils are an odd mix of water and non-watercolor, not necessarily the right shades of either.  Maybe I should have stuck to a pencil sketch.

At any rate, I’m really mulling over the paintings I did yesterday. The one of the “empty” valley, pre-white settlers, uses the Cezanne-ish technique of tilting the back of the scene up toward the viewer. This has the effect of emphasizing as well as distorting the subject matter. I have to decide if and/or how much I want to lie that mid-ground valley down. It’s the heart of the subject, the place that I could imagine a band of native Americans, smoke from their fires, kids playing in the river (under the trees), women beading and gossiping, men gambling with stones and getting weapons and nets ready to retrieve an evening meal. But of course, none of that shows, and perhaps the tilt of the golden valley floor merely looks weird.

These are the questions that try the painter’s soul. The farmed valley sits more comfortably on the canvas — perhaps it was my discomfort with the thought of the displaced people that made the valley tilt.

There are other bits that will be worked on, but it’s this particular challenge that I’m thinking about as I ponder what I want in the final painting that will someday emerge from the first drafts.

Reporting on Sunday September 19, from Caldwell, Idaho, in a comfortable but unenergized motel room –June

12 thoughts on “Petrified Forest Residency: Travel, Sept 19

  1. I think Gorilla art would be just as exciting as elephant art, don’t you?

    We thought fondly of Boundary Springs, particularly as we were languishing in Wendover. I’m thinking this might be the last long distance residency I can manage — the difficulty of getting here has quelled some of my enthusiasm. Maybe just Boundary Springs, without the hype?

    • Yes, I suppose gorilla art could be pretty exciting! Since I am a librarian, I was thinking of that skit where the gorilla goes to interview for the librarian job. 🙂 Sorry to hear your travels to AZ have been less than inspiring… the destination should be worth it! Maybe you’ll take the coastal route to get home?

  2. okay, now that I’ve set myself up as the annoying, laughing proofreader… ha ha ha! gorilla art! and gorilla gardening… I’m getting a good visual (think Monty Python). By the way, got my first peek at Boundary Springs yesterday. More beautiful than amazing, after all the hype I’d heard. Thought of you two, though, and told my hiking companion she should check out wikipedia when she starting wondering aloud about daily flow rates, miles to the ocean, etc.

    • Mmmm, and spell check didn’t even flinch. In my weak defense, I am finding it spelled both ways when used with gardening, and think my leaning the way I did may be the fault of all those ads for Gorilla Glue.

      • Since “gorilla” is a correctly spelled word, spell check wouldn’t catch it. The perils of spell check! I imagine our American spellcheckers might have flinched a bit if you tried to use a word like “guerrilla” in your post, anyway– so foreign! so revolutionary! Gorilla= much safer.

  3. oo, Sheila, I like this. I might have to do this in Wendover, where the amenities, including the humans we’ve encountered, are less than desirable. I have a postcard sized thing I might just leave behind. Maybe it would make life better for the next traveler here.

    • …Provided the maid service doesn’t notice and feel obligated to take it down as part of room prep. Worth a try, even if the only person you make life better for IS the maid service.

  4. I’m sure I’ve stayed in stripped-down motel rooms with that yellow glow to them. Not at all reassuring…

    I have visions of you pinning up a sketch or two on the walls so that the next person has some art to look at. Maybe we can start a movement! Annabel talks about “gorilla gardening,” maybe this could be gorilla art and less irritating to the owners than actual graffiti on the walls. 😉

  5. Since you used to teach English, I know you won’t mind me pointing out that forgetting the “i” in “painting” in the first sentence made it kind of humorous. 🙂

    • Lia,
      Replay my comment to Gerrie, which I came to first on my email and had to check out immediately.

      I can plead exhaustion, unfamiliar computer, and cluelessness. But I will insist that I was also and definitively too tired to pant, inside or out!

      And for those of you who didn’t catch the typo (not a spelling eror, “just” a typo!), you’ll just have to use your imaginations — as Lia and Gerrie already did:-)

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