Ahhhhhhh. It was a grand day at the Red Barn.
I was reluctant to start. I knew I didn’t know how to fix the big paintings and I had no little ones to procrastinate on. And there was at least one other painting sitting around which was turned to the wall immediately as I walked into the Barn.
When I arrived, there were people wanting to chat me up. And then more came (March in Death Valley seems to bring them out, for good sun-warm reasons) Talking sometimes cheers me up and gives me a bit of a gig, pushing me out of my self-imposed gloom.
So I tackled, though without much hope, the second big canvas that was barely started yesterday. I started in one corner, where I could sort of see what needed done, and proceeded, through the whole thing. And while I tweaked it off and on during the day, by 5 pm, I was pretty satisfied with it.
Amargosa Playa 2, about 5′ x 5′, Oil on canvas.
The Playa 2 is a semi-abstract, just to the right of center on the abstract — representational continuum. I was playing with various perspectives, and hoping to capture something of the feel of the vastness of the playa, just outside the Red Barn doors. I did a representational one of these early on that was quite successful. This, though, was a harder task. [ed note: as of August 31, 2009, the Amargosa Playa 2 painting continues to be worked on, through various versions, including one Emily Carr procedure. The patient lives, but only barely.]
Then I tackled, again, the other big one and this is the result:
Golden Canyon Revisited, about 5′ x 5′, Oil on canvas
This was one that editor Jer saw a serious flaw in yesterday; today when I fixed that problem, I created another problem. But I think they are both fixed now.
Both these canvases are pretty good sized — I used a ladder to get to the tops of them. They are my height, but of course raised from the floor, a bit too high for me to reach. One of the tourists took my photo with Golden Canyon; she said she’d email me a copy. [She did mail a copy, which will be exhibited in the Afterward, I think.]
I am content now that I can let these hang for a week, and by that time they will be dry enough to roll up and take home. Both are semi-abstract, both come out of other representational paintings. Both attempt to give the feel of the space being connoted, somewhat claustrophobic in Golden Canyon Revisited, fully open and more open in Amargosa Playa 2.
After working those two, I was feeling my oats, so I retackled the Barrick Mine painting, which has been turned to the wall in embarrassment. But I decided I couldn’t ruin it — as it stood it was so bland as to be annoying. So I smushed paint onto its face, working out some of my feelings about that blasted pile of rubble:Barrick Open Pit Mine, oil on board, 18 x 36″.
I don’t know if it’s a good painting, but it certainly was a carthartic moment.
Then, it was only 3 pm and I was bored with everything around me — so I started a new large painting on masonite (I can carry it home in its special box), another of the Amargosa Playa. This one was done sitting at the open barn doors, feeling the cooling afternoon wind, being protected by the Barn. A delicious way to paint a scene I’ve come to love:
Amargosa Playa 3, oil on board, 18 x 24″, 2009
The haze on the desert floor felt like the ocean to me as I painted this. Classical music was playing softly, the wind was cool and comforting, the air warm, and the piece just flowed out of me in a single easy sitting. It may need tweaked but right now it feels right.
Then George Radomski, new owner of the Beatty Mercantile, came by to talk about possibly buying some of the paintings for the store. He is such an enthusiastic person that it was the capping of my day. We have reached a tentative agreement and, barring some unforeseen barrier, someone who likes my work a lot will have some of it for himself and his endeavors.
So you see why it was a good day. Jer and I visited the Bullfrog-Rhyolite cemetary when he came to pick me up, and later, we drove back to the Barn from Beatty to get some things and spent the spring twilight, driving around the ghostly light-changing Rhyolite. I hope to find a place not on BLM land to paint from up on the hill, behind Rhyolite, sometime within the next week. Tomorrow I’ll approach Betty and ask where the BLM land stops. You apparently aren’t allowed to paint on BLM land, although you can photograph all you want.
Reporting from Beautiful Downtown Beatty, Nevada, where spring has sprung and the cottonwoods are greening up.