Wednesday, July 14, 2010


we are en route to santa fe for the indulgence of madame butterfly at the opera house on friday. today's drive to farmington, nm, took us down the familiar route from hanksville to bluff, one of my favorite painting spots, on the san juan river. the south side of the river there is protected by gorgeous, inspirational, creamy-pink sentinel cliffs. today, we turned south past bluff, crossed the san juan, and made our way across the northeastern section of the navajo nation, passing just south of the four corners' site.

this country is the southwest that i know and love. it, like home, is "standing up" country. and riding through it gave me a chance to reflect on it in terms of paint.

these landscapes are angular, to be sure (see previous post), but within the angles there are tiny fossils, wind-carved arches, amphitheaters, and coves, and desert varnish drips (all this on the sandstone), not to mention winding rivers and washes through the valleys below and billowing clouds in the sky above (at least now, during the summer "monsoon" season). so, within angles, a myriad of other marks and shapes. perhaps my individual panels can be the main angles, at times subdivided by internal angles, and within these i can portray abstractedly the other, smaller marks and shapes.

this led me to ponder the other predominant characteristic of this country: above all else, there is space. big blocks of sky, rock, land. the cold wax, abstract technique lends itself, to my eye, to the portrayal of this feeling of expanse.

from mexican water, az, to shiprock, nm, my eyes were drawn to the complex pattern of clouds in the huge, blue, dominant sky. to the north, low on the horizon, a line of cumulus, probably over the rockies. ahead and above, cirrus clouds heading diagonally upward from, yes, a vanishing point on the horizon. almost straight ahead, a jet trail climbing up and backward at an angle over my head. i grabbed a car pencil and a piece of scratch paper and scribbled down the overall pattern. and then i thought: i can still have sky perspective even in my abstract rectangles and squares. these are clouds that i can abstract, impressions that i can convey in my cold-wax sky pieces through subtle directional indications that say "sky" without being maynard dixon imitations.

i can't wait to get home to work on all this.

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