Saguaro, Sahuarita, AZ
Oil on canvas, 10x10
Our daughter, son-in-law and their two kids - 10 and 11 - are visiting, and I painted as much as I could in advance of their visit.
Painting from photos of the trip brings the sights and sounds and scents of these beautiful places back to me in full. No, it's not the thrill of painting right on the site, but it is just as fine, in a more contemplative way.
For those of you who haven't painted en plein air (outside, on scene), it can be just the greatest thing in the world. Standing in the landscape you're painting, you can see the light and shadows with real clarity. You can smell the earth and hear the wind and feel the sun (or rain) ... (or mist)... (or snow)... on your face.
You can mix a color on your palette and hold it up to compare it to the color of what you're painting. You can easily shorten or lengthen distances, take out trees, push mountains back - make the adjustments you need to make to make the landscape a painting - and still check your changes against reality.
I love it - but it's not a utopia. That wind can and does tip your easel over. Bugs fly around you, and get stuck in your paint. Sand and dirt and dust and little bits of who knows what also fly all over the place and end up in the painting. The sun can bounce off the canvas and pretty much blind you to colors.
And above all, the light and shadows can change in a minute, so you'd better learn to paint fast.
With all this, I have to say that it's my favorite thing to do.
My next favorite is doing these studio pieces. I am enjoying the luxury of time, of easel stability, of light that doesn't change. It's great to be able to use the bathroom in the house, to get a hot cup of coffee, and to make a fresh sandwich to enjoy during my lunch break.
And all the time, the photos and the paintings remind me about the places, the people, the discoveries of my trip out West.
Here are some tidbits about saguaro cacti, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum:
The cacti, the defining feature of the Sonora Desert are found exclusively there.
Most important for their growth are water and temperature - though elevation is a factor. Too high, and the cold weather will kill them.
The cacti don't all grow arms, though many do.
They can live 150-200 years, if conditions are right!
Scenes from the road (and elsewhere)
|I love the way the road winds along the hillsides of this New Mexico town, and I think it would make an excellent painting.|
I haven't done a donkey painting, but I think I might have to give it a try.
I think I need to make a 10x10 of azaleas!
And, finally, an invitation: Since I am home now, it's a little tougher to get a Dog of the Day. I can always send photos of my dogs, but how fun is that? My friend and sponsor Sherry Svec sent me this photo of me with her dog Jack, and so Jack is the Dog of the Day today.
Here's the invite: Send me a photo of your dog - with or without you in it, as you wish - and your dog could be the Dog of the Day. Click here to email me at carrieBjacobson@gmail.com