Friday, September 24, 2010

The Land that Inspires Me - The Creative Process

Sandstone Bluff or Castle Wall?
 Before I painted I photographed. I have painted plein aire but the sun and sand has gotten into my eyes and into my paints. Besides with a camera I can record in a short period of time more images to paint later in my studio. This last week, in addition to a visit with my sister (also a photographer), was a search for new images to record.

The Malpais of New Mexico, the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau which has provided lots of inspiration, was my destination this last week. Being on the edge instead of in the center was a new perspective. Below tall Ponderosa pines cast shadows on the sandstone bluffs.

Light and Shadow at Play on Sandstone

The other advantage of being on the edge of this huge geological formation is the vistas. Here the lava flow of the valley butts up with the sandstone cliffs.

Sandstone bluffs

Sandstone Arch or cathedral?
 I have told people that I paint the adobe missions of New Mexico because they remind me of the canyon walls I so love. Here the canyon walls remind me of a mission church. The light and shadow captured in this photograph will probably be used in paintings of both.

Vista of the bluffs to the East
I am looking for a long narrow composition to paint horizontally. This photograph and the one of the sandstone bluffs may furnish the basis for one or more such paintings.

And people that view my paintings often ask about the water in them. Water in the west is a gift and often a surprise like in the photographs below. I include water in canyon pictures almost as a magical charm, but in my recent exhibition into the Zuni mountains it surprised me in this hidden canyon.

Water protected in the rocks

The slot canyon
 In the water starved land of the New Mexico Malpais it is often the rocks that protect and shape the water but the water also has its effects on the rocks. In another picture I have of this canyon face there are images that can be developed. I will surprise you.

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