"Finished" Done, Complete, Replete, the End: Nov 30, 2009

I have declared the big linen panorama “finished.” Note the quotes. I almost never finish a work until it has sat and thought for a while. And until I have sat and looked for a while. However, we will hold an Open Studio next Saturday, pack up the Studio Sunday, pack up the house after that, and wend our leisurely way back to Portland, Oregon, avoiding winter storms as much as possible. The panels should be dry enough to roll and transport by next Sunday. I don’t dare add another stitch of paint until we are back home.

So here are the seven panels. Tomorrow Jer and I are going down the Beatty Cut-off to Death Valley, where I’m going to paint landscape in proper perspective with proper coloring and properly conventional notions. When we come back, weather and desire permitting, it’s little hamlet-scapes around Beatty; I still have the Community Center to deal with, and I would rather like to paint that Joshua Tree with its big rock and 5 huge satellite dishes.

David Lancaster may be able to come up from Vegas this week with proper lights and get some good photos, but these will have to do for the nonce. Sometime later this week, I will try to add photos which combine the pieces, so you can get a sense of the panoramic scope. And I might even make comments. But tonight, it’s just each panel, one at a time, photography by JOU. And no journaling until I get combos photographed, which will be sometime before Sunday. No promises beyond that.

Unoriented Amargosa, Panel 1 (east) 4′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

Unoriented Amargosa, Panel 2 (east) 4′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

Unoriented Amargosa, Panel 3 (east) 4′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

Unoriented Amargosa, Panel 4 (center) 4′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

Unoriented Amargosa, Panel 5 (west)) 4′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

Unoriented Amargosa, Panel 6 (west)) 4′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

Unoriented Amargosa, Panel 7 (west)) 4′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

Of course, the titles with their directions are “oriented”, making a veritable lie of the rest of the title.

And I should, for the sake of the record, add that some of these panels (the ones in the center)¬† went through 3 versions today, and many before that. I had one version done when Jer showed up. He took a walk and I saw other things to do to those panels, and when he came back, he had further suggestions that were quite good and so had to be dealt with.¬† I had previously revised the panels after hearing Suzanne and Charles’ suggestions (all of which I took, albeit perhaps not quite as they imagined). David Lancaster may be able to come up from Vegas this week with proper lights and get some good photos, but these will have to do for the nonce.

So look and look again, at the desert, at the canvas, at your mind, at your paints. And then look again.

When we left, after sunset tonight, the Desert Flower sculpture which lies in the Barn’s yard was shining in the waning light while the almost full moon was glistening above. It was glorious and heart-breaking.

Reporting on the last day of November on the last day of the big project painting from the Goldwell House, run by the Goldwell Open Air Art Foundation, in Beatty, Nevada, home to Beatty Mountain and the Beatty Merc. And an almost full moon tonight.

Diary of a Residency, Day 38, March 25, 2009

We went back out to Death Valley, to Zabriski Point, today. Jer hiked down to Gower¬† Gulch and I painted one of the 18 x 24″ boards. The sun was hot, the wind was blowing, but the board stayed put and the painting was well along by the time he returned.

zabriskipointdraft1wThe photo was taken in the Red Barn, where I had Jer drop me off on the way back to Beatty. There I had a couple of good solitary hours to work on this painting and the two I did yesterday. All three are just about finished, although I only remembered to photograph this one. I’m quite pleased with the way it came out. At 5:30 pm, the painting looked like this:

zabriskipointfinalwZabriski Point, Death Valley, 18 x 24″, Oil on board.

Friends of ours are flying in from Lake Havasu (literally flying in a light plane) any minute now, so this is reported from the Goldwell House, Beatty, Nevada, in haste, and contentedly.


Diary of a residency, Day 37, March 24, 2009

I got back to painting today. And it went well. It was a bit chilly and windy this morning, but when the time to paint comes, it comes. And sometimes it isn’t as bad as one imagines.

I went off with my now-ratty painting coat and gloves, heading for the Beatty Cut-off road to Death Valley. As you leave Beatty you climb through a couple of road cuts. The second one opens out into the Amargosa Plain (Playa/Valley) and you see the road going off into the distance, to the cut through the Funeral and Grapevine Mountains at Sunlight Pass before entering Death Valley proper. The ideal place to paint would be in the middle of the highway, right at the road cut. That being rather dangerous, I opted to climb the hill on the right, hoping to get both a good view and a place somewhat sheltered from the wind. I went around the tip of the hill, found my spot, and saw Jer below, willing to carry up my cart and gear, so I wouldn’t lose track of where I was standing. I painted from there. It felt good.


Between Beatty and Rhyolite, oil on masonite, 12 x 16″, 2009

The painting needs a tiny bit of tweaking, but given that this is the fourth time I’ve painted the plain (but not the road) it seems fairly complete.

The other painting I did this afternoon, in Beatty itself, at the general store, officially now the Beatty Mercantile, but still having the Lost River Trading Post sign on its highway side. The store looks modest on the outside, but has vastnesses within which could hold treasures. We frequent the store frequently, and so it has a special place in our hearts — oatmeal and raisin bran are essentials of life.

Behind the store is my old joy, the Beatty Mountain, which I’ve also painted three or four times (depending on whether you count the failures or not). So the modesty of the store against the largeness of its background made a fun combination.


The Beatty Merc (unfinished), 12 x 16″, Oil on masonite, 2009

This painting is missing both its sign and the Volkswagon bus coming down the highway. They will be inserted soon. My view was blocked by a large white trailer being fussed at by the driver, and so I felt like I didn’t really get to work as much on the building as I wished. But the blocking of my view forced me to look more at the mountain, so it might have been providential. I do like that mountain.

Tomorrw we are going back to Zabriski Point — nothing like painting the place where everyone has to sling a brush.¬† I’m not going to Google to find out who else has painted there; I fear to see too much of others’ works.

Reported from the Goldwell House, Beatty, Nevada, where we are getting ready to watch a video. Such decadence!

[ed. note: the link to the Beatty Mercantile is actually a link to a report from Beatty’s Fourth of July parade in 2009, which the Mercantile donated to. The link is written by the fellow who made ice cream with his solar panels, courtesy of the Goldwell Foundation. All part of the fun. We missed this, but were there in spirit. And the link gave us more to day dream about.]