Playa: September 15 & 16, 2013

Sunday morning, Sept. 15

I am outside on the Commons deck, where the lawn and ponds and playa are quite beautiful and the laptop is almost readable in the sun.

It’s only 11 AM but I’ve already worked on a large painting on-site up by cabin 1.Cabin1BacktowardplayaWL

Cabin 1 from the front. The back looks out on the playa, and that’s where I painted, of course. There’s a wrap-around porch.

I got up about 6, heated up yesterday’s coffee, put on my boots, gathered my painting stuff and put it into the cart that Rachel found for me, the one that pushes like a dream. Rachel says it was made especially for her (along with all the others around the property) by a guy in Eugene. It can be converted into a bike cart just by unscrewing a couple of wing nuts and adding a bicycle widget. Continue reading

Playa September 14, 2013

(This residency recollection was interrupted by a 50th wedding anniversary orgy of photographs, which I shall post on Flicker as soon as I get a bit caught up here. My apologies to my faithful fans who have been waiting for the next installment.)

Saturday, September 14:

Yesterday I climbed up the hill across the road. It’s actually a kind of “front range” to Winter Ridge ( a set of small hills in front of the basalt of the Ridge) where I found a good wide view. I might have to paint from it. But it was hot and by the time I got back, I was sweating, dehydrated, and tired. Ah well, what did I expect at 4000 feet above sea level for an aging out-of-shape body.  But it’s always good to have possibilities for further exploration. I told myself that Saturday (today) would be a lazy day,  to make up for the exertion and excitements of yesterday. (So much for promises).

Here’s one photo of Playa-from-the-Hill:


The big excitement of today, however, really was neat. A huge white bird came into the north pond (the one Cabin 10 looks out on). It looked like a swan, but with an enormous beak like a pelican. It was bigger than any pelican I’d ever seen.


And when it raised its wings to lord over some ducks, I saw stark black undersides to them.


PelicanGroomingI sneaked outside to take photos, although it didn’t seem to take any notice of my presence. I saw it eat a couple of fish with its tremendous beak, sliding them into its beak and down its gullet which was long and elegant.

It came right up to the edge of the pond where I was photographing:


When it flew off I saw the black underwings again. Stark black against stark white. And not thin like a heron.


This guy was substantial. So when Rachel came back from her work with the neighbor I asked her about it. She got all excited, found it in a book, and said they had never been seen on these ponds before. It was an American White Pelican, which is very scarce because of pesticides and human invasions. It can have a 10 foot wing span. The flight was stunning.

I think I’m very lucky to be in Cabin 10.

Afterward everything else was a kind of anti-climax. I laid in the shapes for a couple of paintings. I want to try to paint the morning mist that seems to rise in the south playa (there might still be some water down there). I saw it today, but couldn’t bear to take my stuff out at that unhealthy early hour.

Other than that, I finished off a painting or two and worked a couple more to see what would happen. And laid in the shapes for the ones I’d like to get at soon. I’m not exactly an early riser — Rachel volunteered, with a guffaw, to come and get me up. I have been waking up early, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to roll. And I’m still a bit sore from my hike yesterday (my little walk, actually) so I don’t know if tomorrow is the day I’ll get up at an hour that some people (you know who you are) deem acceptable. I also have an idea about what I can do with the very long view up on the hill but I’ll have to explore that some more.


Rachel gave me three kinds of mosquito repellant so I don’t need to go to Paisley to get any. And my beer is holding out well, as is the food:-) Maybe spaghetti for dinner tonight. Haven’t decided yet. I’m starting to wear down, so it might be tuna fish instead. I had guacamole for lunch, with tomato and lots of onions and lemon juice. It was wonderful. The avocado was just at its best stage — perfection. I’ve been drinking cold ginger tea and liking that a lot. I see that there’s plenty of herbal teas for the taking in the Commons so if I run out I’ll have plenty of substitutes. –June

Playa: September 11th & 12th

Wednesday,  Sept 11, 2013 (This post also can be found on my southeastmain blog, with a few photos changed).

We left Portland about 8 and, taking our favorite Route 26 around the southern edge of Mt Hood, dropped further south on Rt. 97 through Bend.  At La Pine in southeast Oregon we finally left the trucks and high speed traffic and took Route 3, a relatively short two-lane between  La Pine and Lakeview. We traveled through a ponderosa forest, range and sage land, and  then came through the pass between Silver Lake and Summer lake, where we first caught sight of the Summer Lake playa and the curve of Winter Ridge. Winter Ridge stands like a crescent moon, a half circle whose granite arms embrace the lake bed, rugged and yet protective in its curve.

PlayaOfficeWLThe Commons at Playa include the office.

Playa (the art residency compound) fits into a green oasis inside the Winter Ridge curve and is west of the Summer Lake bed.  Jer helped me unpack my art supplies, 2 weeks worth of food stuffs (think tuna and iceberg lettuce), and then, as I turned down Kathy’s kind offer to allow him to stay overnight (I was to be completely alone and she thought perhaps it would be good to have someone else with me), he went on to Lakeview, where he had photographs to pursue.

As usual I am brain-dead because I became far too absorbed in wide-eyed gazing. The landscape is one of the northern-most, lusher versions of basin and range country that we found attracted us in Nevada.   Summer lake at the moment is almost dry but still impresses one as a primary force of the landscape. Winter Ridge is no small slouch, either, as it fronts Summer Lake, forming that great crescent along its western edge. Across from Playa to the east is  the lake bed,  the Diablo Mountains, and Ten Mile Butte.


The playa of Summer Lake, from one of the Playa Compound paths. Beyond, across the lake, is either Ten Mile Butte or the Diablo Mountains

I am in Cabin 10 at Playa, and right now am totally alone. Later tonight, the on-site manager, Rachel, will be coming home, but at the moment, except for the cars that occasionally go by, this is solitude.

Well, I did see a bunch of animal scat, some of it not so small. So I suspect I am not totally alone. And I heard what I think was a coyote (I’ve never heard a clearly identified one ) as I was walking around the pond between the Lake and the Playa compound.

The North Pond and Reflections

The pond at Playa. The reflections in this desert spot were simply amazing. This is looking north, toward Winter Ridge.

The quarters are elegant, simple, but have all the essential conveniences. Cabin 10 has an upstairs bedroom as well as a downstairs one and a small attached studio. Both bedrooms have balconies that look out over the lake, picking up the northern end of Winter Ridge, the Diablo mountains, and Ten Mile Butte across the dry lake bed.

It’s totally gorgeous, of course, but I must quit before I collapse. I did find my way to the computer (an Apple!) in the Commons and, after a few swearing sessions at Apple’s opacity, sent Jer a message from g-mail. So I am not being totally off the grid. But given the nature of the computer and my own delight in the isolation, I doubt that I’ll be making much of it.

Thursday, Sept 12, 2013

I was awakened in the dead of night by a raucous battle between a coyote or coyotes and a flock of geese. Such a honking and howling and barking in an otherwise silent night. The squabble was only stopped when the geese took off in one of their whooshes of wind and wings. This occurred three or four times during the early morning hours.

When I was wakened by the noise, the sky was bright with stars. When I woke next time, it had clouded over. And sunrise this morning was a scarf of clouds over the middle of the lake; Winter Ridge was thick with them; the sun was coming up in something like clear skies to the east.


So I got up and watched the sun on the clouds and the escarpment of Winter Ridge. I decided to go for a bit of a walk (it was about 6:30) but just as I put on my boots, it started to shower. The rain bounced cheerfully on the pond. The shower didn’t last long, the clouds moved off to the southeast, and by 11 the skies were clear. A heron or egret sat on the bridge across the northern end of the pond; different ducks fed here and there. A hawk or other predator flew by looking for breakfast, while swallows fed on the mosquitos. I begin to see my day taking shape.


I know what I need to start my painting processes with.

Later: Started a plein air painting today. Must go back in midday tomorrow to correct colors. The big shapes make the painting easier. Getting the colors right is the challenge.

The staff has been really helpful. Rachel took over today and found me a good cart to handle the gravel and grass I must haul my art stuff over.


The magical cart — worked like a dream through the gravel paths and grass and all my art stuff, including my own cart, fit inside.

I’m having a good time watching the playa and the animals. The bugs, not so much so. The questions are: will tonight’s rendition of drama on the playa be as exciting as last night’s; and will I sleep through it. I hope so. Rachel says a goose may have been dinner for the coyote, although she suspected it was more likely to have been a duck. I think I heard geese honking but then, what do I know?