The final day at the Goldwell Open Air Museum’s Workspace Artist in residency:
I took almost no photos the last two days; during exhibits I always think I will take lots and then, as I’m talking and greeting and hugging, I forget. I even forgot to get photos of Suzanne and Charles and Sammie today, which is shocking.
I did get a photo of John, who as one of the regulars at the Barn wandered in from time to time or stopped to chat me up while I was plein airing out on the desert: he was first to the Open Studio, and so I was still in my remembering-to-photo¬† mode.
That’s Dream, his greyhound on the floor. She isn’t really impressed by paintings but decided I was OK. John bought the very last painting I did, Zabriskie Point. I would have liked to have brought that home with me, but I also am pleased that it was he who bought it.
Here’s someone whose photo I remembered to take at just about the same time — Jer was talking to John, so I caught him looking very like his skeptical self:
The painting in back of him is one that is coming home with us.
Here’s a photo taken by Pam Brekas, who visited and insisted not only on taking the picture but on emailing it to me:
So here are the final stats of the Goldwell residency. 27 “successful” paintings done; 5 discarded, for a total of 32 paintings over 42 days. Two were over 50 x 50″; two successful ones were 18 x 36″ (and two failed ones were also 18 x 36″¬† — hey 50% ain’t bad), three were odd sized canvases (including 2 bad ones), and the rest were either 18 x 24 or 12 x 16″. All the boards, 12 x 16″, 18 x 24″, and 18 x 36″ were done plein air. 5 paintings were done on canvas, in the studio, unstretched. I’m taking home the two big unstretched canvases and one other. I did far more landscapes than Beatty-scapes, which I did not expect. But the landscape cried out for being looked at, again and again. So I did. And then I painted it, again and again, — the playa 4 times; the Beattie Mountain 4 times; Golden Canyon/Zabriskie Point 3 times, Bullfrog Hills at least twice. Sometimes I found myself dreaming of the great hills around the Red Barn, with its enormous expanse of space to the south.
I worked intensely every day except a couple after I finished the¬† big paintings and the last four days, visiting Titus Canyon, entertaining Lia and Bo, and getting ready for the Exhibit. I don’t think I ever worked as intensely at art as I have these last 42 days.
About 60 people showed up for the Open Studio yesterday, and this morning, George and Carrie Radomski, as well as Suzanne, Charles, and Sammie showed up. So we had a good chance to chat with the people we came to know best on this last full day we have in Beatty.
Working by myself, out in the desert air, I had a lot of time to contemplate the human left-overs on an indifferent landscape. The desert doesn’t get rid of human detritus, and so a different kind of history remains than one sees¬† in wet climates. The desert holds the junk, almost indifferently. You often can’t see the human elements until you walk the landscape, unless, like the mine tailings, the very rock has been violated. But if left alone for 100 years, perhaps even that will disappear, looking like part of the rock from which it was drilled. Left alone, the place feels like an ancient, calm, deserted ruin, governed by an extraordinary force of sun and heat and wind and flash floods.
Tonight the wind is howling. A dust storm has blown up and a day that began as calm and beautiful as a dream has turned into an unforgiving blast. It’s not cold, which is even more weird to we outlanders. It’s time to go home to Portland, when, if the wind blows like this, it blows rain, not dust, and it will be cold outside, not warm. And at this time of the year in Portland, it’s showering flower petals, not dust. Going home, I’ll have to readjust my eyes and palette, but after living in the desert for 6 weeks, it’s likely that everything will look new and strange to me. This is an added bonus, because I paint better when I’m confronted with what appears new and strange.
Thank you Goldwell. Thank you Richard and David. Thank you Charles and Sammie. Thank you Maria. And thank you, Suzanne, for all the support you provided.
The experience enhanced my eye, expanded my breath, fulfilled a longing for space, and, perhaps, even improved my painting. It also made me love the desert and hope to be able to return.