Sunday, December 7, 2008

Into the Wilderness--Plein Air, Sans Weapons

I'm shifting slightly toward another direction this week (I've got a portrait that is developing adequately, but I'm not ready to post it yet). More on that soon.

We took a short day trip down Sonoita way (45 miles southeast of Tucson) on Friday.
Just before the Border Patrol Checkpoint (have you got your papers in order?), we turned off onto a small, bumpy road and headed west. There was another road about three miles later that led off to some hidden hills. We took this washboard dirt road, but became intimidated by the sign that warned travelers that drug smuggling and illegal immigration could be encountered in the area. We decided to park under the sign and set up our pochades.

Was it quiet? Sort of...except for the single engine airplane (drug smugglers or law enforcement?), the friendly group of off roaders with the ATV and the man with his two huntin' dogs with subsequent shooting. Yes, it was mostly quiet. We brought along our german shepherd, Loki, and his fluffy companion, Katie, for moral support, ahem, safety. I wondered out loud, again, about the laws concerning concealed weaponry. Actually, I could be heard blurting, "Whars mah gun?!" We looked at Loki and smiled, deciding that he's always loaded.

It was bright and sunny too. This hill, with its minimalist shape and few bushes intrigued me. I usually make different choices. Mr. artyfice set up across the washboard looking west. The dogs, watered and fed, lounged in the vehicle, at the ready, eyes attentive on the surroundings.

As I painted, I asked myself how would Jeffrey Boron paint this? And, what approach would Silvina take? I really like how each of these artists use their brushstrokes and textured paint. Another great reason to visit artists' blogs. I'm still exploring this style. As we passed the Border Patrol officer on the way home, she smiled and waved us through.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I felt like I was looking at your painting with 3-D glasses! It really pops. Your painting is very striking.

Um, when you say your dog is always loaded... it's not something you're putting in his water bowl, is it? He's such a cutie.

I checked out J. Boron. Thanks for sharing that link, I like his paintings. As for "Silvina's approach" to plein air painting... she knows about as much about it as she does about what really goes into Loki's water bowl.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Silvina! I think part of the reason for the 3D thingy is that a gusty wind blew through the valley, near the end of this exercise, and several seeds from the foreground grasses landed on my painting. I decided to let them stay. Perhaps that's what makes it look more 3D. I'd like to think it's the painting all by itself, but...

Very funny! I hadn't thought of the other ways a dog can be 'loaded'! Ha! He came to us pre-loaded from the Humane Society who said he was a street dog--doggie/people aggressive.

Now, now. You've got the gift with plein air. You're just in the process of locking in the tools, right? And, being more generous with yourself.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

This is beauty.


Karen said...

I _love_ the texture in this one, especially as contrasted to the more subdued (texture-wise) sky. And the subtle color changes across the hill's surface completely enhances that texture.

side note: that article I mentioned was by Rebecca Solnit, in A Field Guide to Getting Lost. The essay itself is called The Blue of Distance...about how the color blue becomes a metaphor for memory, desire, distance. It's quite beautiful.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Barbara. And, thanks for visiting!

Melinda said...

Hi Karen!
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I did want to contrast the somewhat flat, blue sky against the grassy hill.

I really appreciate the reference to the author, Rebecca Solnit. I am going to read it!

Jeffrey J. Boron said...

You've really captured a sense of open space and clear light, love the brush work.


ps: be careful out there you guys!

Melinda said...

I'm so glad that you stopped by. I look at your work regularly and think that I am beginning to 'get it'. I still have a lot to learn, though.

Yes, thank you, we will be careful! I'm thinking that our next plein air excursion will be on the northwest side of Tucson in the Catalina State Park, a place I know you would enjoy painting in. It isn't on the route up from the border.

You know, it wasn't until after I'd posted that I realized that the region south of us is very troubled. There are no easy answers anymore and I have sympathy for the good people trying to come north as well as for those trying to live safely nearby. Neither of these groups is bad. It's the drug cartels and their competative warring that is so dangerous.

Edgar said...

I love the texture of strokes and colors in this one, Melinda... I like your new approach! Keep going that direction and see where it leads!

Natalya Khorover Aikens said...

cool story and beautiful painting...

AK said...

melinda - what an incredible piece! when i look at it i feel like i am there. It brought sunlight and blue skies to the frozen North -- THANK YOU!

Melinda said...

Thank you for stopping by. Everything seemed so calm and pleasant on that day--not really threatening. It was later, as things added up, that I realized we'd been on an adventure.

Melinda said...

I'm glad I could send a bit of sunlight and blue sky north!

I hope to do that some more this winter. The light down here in AZ is the best during this season--cool, crisp days with striking blue skies against glowing mountains. It's similar to NM, but different in other ways.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Very striking with the strongly coloured hillside and clear blue sky (just like we have had here in Scotland for the past week [gotta end soon!].
It must be great going out painting with a friend, especially when it's Edgar. Lucky youse two!

btw: you are 'het'!

Melinda said...

I was thinking of you when I was out in the warm sun, David, and all of the other artists who are in colder climes right now. Thought this would be nice to look at. Here in the summertime, I like to look at snowy pictures and watch movies made in the winter.

Everyone! If you have a chance, head on over to David's blog and check out his posts. He's witty, talented and a great Scottish artist. Try your hand at some Scottish slang, too. It's a mind tickler, to be sure. And, good fun.

--Lady Haggis of Clartymidden (melinda)

ps: David: Ah'm Edgar's Trouble and Strife, Duchess of Fife, and sometimes friend!

daviddrawsandpaints said...

It's so funny, Melinda!
If only you knew what 'Clartymidden' stood for :o)

"Duchess of Fife" as well -you are such a lady!

But I'm not sure the rest of the world are ready for common Scots:o(

Melinda said...

Uh, oh. I know I shouldn't ask, but you know I can't resist. What DOES "clartymidden" stand for? Could it be...the missus of a clear dung heap?!!

Well, if so, my studio looks like it. How'd you know?

Frank Gardner said...

I hope that you post some more plein air pieces after the holidays slow down a bit.
Nice colors in this.
I would have been so nervous about my dogs getting shot by some hunter the whole time.

Melinda said...

Yes, more plein air posts coming. I'm looking forward to getting out in the winter light here. As soon as the temps dip below 75 degrees, we start moving around again, a bit like lizards in reverse!

We'll be more careful, too!

Marian Fortunati said...

I love the way the sun is shining on the top of that hill!
You really captured it.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Marian! It was a fun study. Hope to get out again soon.

I like your new avatar--pretty snazzy.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Nearly right Melinda, except the dungheap is not quite as 'clear' and sweet-smelling as you might have us believe!

Anonymous said...

This is a terrific painting- I really like the textures of the hill and the contrast against that sky.
It tells of temperature, time, warmth and good brush work.

Wonderfully done.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Bonnieluria! It was my hope to be more relaxed and loose with the brushwork--less picky.

The paint is quite thick which was fun to put down.