Cacti Certainly are Captivating
I've had a lifelong fascination with cacti in Arizona. I distinctly remember my first run-in with a Jumping Cactus as a young child. Quite painful. As a teen, I loved to draw them. Especially the majestic saguaros. When I was in college, my first art award was for a cactus scene of the desert.
For every out-of-state guest that our family takes on a drive or a simple desert hike, it's always the cacti they want to stop and gape at. Even that reaction isn't comparable to the amazement visitors have at finding their 1st cactus skeleton. They are absolutely fascinating. I've seen visitors to the Sonoran desert go bonkers over a small cactus skeleton the length of my hand. These beautiful wood-like objects honestly look like they're from another world.
I've discovered that I really enjoy the challenge of seeing, with my paintbrush, the nooks and crannies that swirl around the porous tubes left behind by a dead cactus. They're beautiful and mysterious. Just the kind of thing I love to explore through painting.
This is my newest painting of a Cholla Cactus Skeleton. Named "Cactus Skeleton Revisited" it's 16"x40" - acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas and available to buy. Click on the photo for purchasing details. And I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts about this particular piece. TY!
Introducing my new painting, inspired by a dream during a challenging time in my life. It brought me a sense of hope, remembering that nighttime turns into morning, eventually.
It reminded me of the many camping trips I've been on when I always seemed to hear creepy sounds in the night that caused me to shudder but then turned into a beautiful symphony of nature in the daylight.
"Song in the Dark" also holds a very precious moment for me. I was looking for a model to render for a young girl in the painting. So I choose my granddaughter who, at the age of six, is an amazingly talented singer. We had so much fun together; setting up lighting and having her sing out loud as I took photos. I hope the joy of that experience touches you. My joyful time with my granddaughter is woven into the painting as much as the paint that I applied.
"Song in the Night" was recently shown at the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix. It's now available for purchase. (Click on the photo for more information).
Out in the desert, it's not unusual to find a cactus that's dying yet still manages to spend it's last bit of energy on a bloom. "Prickly Pear's Last Bloom" was created from a cactus like that.
Life is a continuous process of growth and death, often occurring at the same time in any living organism or landscape - which fascinates me. In this natural flow beauty often passes swiftly. I love to try to capture those moments with painting dramatic visual experiences of color, contrast and depth. My style reflects my awe with the designs and mysteries of life.
Another really important aspect of my art is for me to get out and interact with the things I love to paint - like roses, cactus skeletons, wild Arizona poppies, cactus flowers and the stunning red rocks scattered throughout my State. I want to experience those "mystery of life" moments for myself before I paint them. I want to dig in the dirt of my garden with my hands, prune a prickly rosebush, aimlessly wander in the desert looking for old metal trash, and be visually amazed by the unusual plants and wildlife of the Sonoran Desert.
Usually in June, the delicate yellow flowers start showing the orange/red colors. It's worth braving the heat in the early morning to hike a desert trail to find them. Personally, I would much rather be in the desert in January! Especially during a cool, wet one like we're having now. And besides - the snakes are still hibernating. That's a thing!
LOL - not that break in the conversation that makes you feel nervous! I'm talking about that feeling of "I-don't-know-how-to-do-this" followed closely by "what will everyone think?"
We all experience it and most of us hate it. But as I've been pursuing my art and expanding my skills, I'm starting to notice benefits and trends associated with awkward.
So I've been learning about landscapes from a really talented artist recently. He's an incredibly laid back, "let's experiment with this" kind of person. And he's not afraid of making mistakes. Looking awkward. It's very inspirational!
I started to enjoy painting landscapes, even though I'm continuing to paint roses, desert flowers and cactus skeletons (I can't wait to show you my newest which is nearly done). I've added a couple of dreams that were set in landscapes. (You'll see one next month when I announce that it's showing at the Herberger). Anyways . . .
I got this great idea to paint my favorite Arizona landscapes - red rock country. Sedona. Monument Valley. The Grand Canyon. Breathtaking scenes. Pretty exciting, right?
What a disaster! My colors were so off. Pink? Red? Orange? How on earth do I capture the incredible colors I'm seeing? Awkward. I felt totally awkward. I was ready to give up and not admit I had even tried because it was so awkward.
Then I remembered that awkward is necessary for learning a new skill. I'm not letting awkward stand in my way.
I decided to spend some time in Sedona. I used color chips to hold up against cliffs, hiked a trail to see colors up close and took lots of photos with my husband's help. I've been mixing paints and choosing palettes (totally awkward - just being real). And I've actually been discovering some cool things and coming up with some new ideas. It's back to being exciting.
I hope this inspires you to take a chance and learn a new skill that you've always wanted to learn. It's going to be awkward at first. Maybe for a while! But there's something exciting about learning something new. It's challenging. Maybe someone will mention that it looks awkward. Who cares! You'll get better at it and that same person might ask you to show them how you did it. It happens!
What's that famous saying - "seize the day?" Sounds awkward to me.
Don't let that stop you!
Take a good look - you won't ever be seeing this owl again!
Introducing my latest Arizona Burrowing Owl painting, destined for a new piece of Desert Trash art. I wanted to give you a chance to see this one before I cover him up with trash. (LOL - only small bits of him will be visible in the final creation).
So why did I paint his whole body only to cover it up?
I had a very philosophical Dad (that I miss discussing the obscure and hidden things of life with). It's his influence that stirs up curiosity in me, and in my art. I love knowing the science behind living things. I enjoy exploring the structural aspect, on a scientific level. These are beautiful hidden things to me.
So I'm giving a wholeness to this owl even though he's not meant to be seen. It's a lot like how we are. There's a lot to us that's not shown publicly, but is an important part of who we are. It's good to acknowledge, on a regular basis, the structure or core of what makes our life important and remember it for our own wholeness, even though it might not be readily seen by others.
I just came home from a place that is almost completely green. I loved it.
Yah - it was a bit boring after a while. Nonetheless I soaked up as much as I could. A week's worth at least. I was really grateful to be able to travel to the Northwest Coast, to Camano Island, for an art workshop with an artist friend of mine. It was a blast.
It was green.