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

Diary of a Residency, Day 22, March 09, 2009

As usual, I spent the day at the Red Barn. Carrie Radomski showed up at 4:30 pm. She’s one¬† of the new owners of the Lost River Trading Co; George is the other half. And they’ve changed the name legally to the Beatty Mercantile, which is what we want to call it anyway. She and I drove out to the Rhyolite (Bullfrog) Cemetery, which is really worth visiting, in that poignant way that cemeteries often are. This one has some graves tended, a few “modern” headstones, an interesting inscription or two, but what really grabbed me were the rows of mounds. Whatever markings had been there are long gone and all that’s left are mounded, six foot long, 3 feet wide, mounds of desert earth. All quite orderly and quite quite poignant.

We left dimes at the 1959 tribute to the miners — a big stone piece — and I took a photo of Panamint Annie’s (born Mary Elizabeth White) grave, which is carefully tended. We didn’t leave any money there; she seemed content with her tributes. The article linked to her moniker gives some detail.

panamintannesgravewAnnie has a Joshua Tree to weep for her.

I also added stones to my Work Maze. Keeping this Journal, with its daily count, allowed me to count the maze stones, which needed a few more added.

workmazeday22wAs for the art work?

Well I finished up the three on-the-road pieces that have been lingering, looking forlorn.

reddingbestwesternwRedding, CA, Best Western, 12 x 16, oil on board

chowchillafinalwChowchilla, CA, Motel, 12 x 16, oil on board

barstowfinalwBarstow, CA Best Western Motel, 12 x 16, oil on board.

Then I tweaked the two pieces I worked on yesterday:

beattyseveningglowfinalwBeatty’s Evening Glow, 12 x 16, oil on board

baremountainspmfinalwBare Mountains, pm, 18 x 24, oil on board.

And I started a Beatty Back Wall Map, as well as a new Shorty’s Rebellion. The Back Wall map looks like this — “started” is definitely the operative word.

beattybackwallmapwIt’s not very big, but it’s big enough. And it’s canvas, so it soaks up the paint. But it keeps me out of trouble. The wind was blowing from the south again today, and I finally gave in, closed the Barn doors, and turned on the heater right at my feet. That helped get me through the day.

These are long days, but I seem to be getting some things done. I always come home feeling exhausted, but then, after a bit of a rest (and a read on my Kindle 2) I recover enough to believe in the work again. Rest is good!

Reported from Beatty, Nevada, Hellsgate and 5 miles from Death Valley.


Goldwell Open Air Museum: diary of a residency

Day 1, February 16, 2009

We arrived in Beatty, Nevada, 100 miles north of Las Vegas, on Sunday, February 15th. We stayed at the Phoenix Inn,  currently under renovation by a friend of Charles and Suzanne Hackett-Morgan, who are the founders, chief board members, and construction/clean-up crew of the Goldwell Open Air Museum.

The Phoenix Motel is worth a painting all its own.


The Phoenix Inn, Feb 2009

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