Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Notes from the desert

I guess I can tell you where I am, so many have guessed. I am in Big Bend National Park in West, Texas. Big Bend is America's least visited national park. It is very wild. The temperatures here are running about 96 during the day. It is also a little smokey here as there are big brush fires burning in West Texas and Northern Mexico.

Although I have been joking about the snakes and javelina's I am actually very comfortable in this environment, as I have painted here before. It is a little like painting on the moon, the landscape is very jagged and fierce. I think Big Bend is one of the best places to paint, but you have to be willing to camp out to do it. There is actually a motel in the park, but it is always full.

Here is another picture I am working on, there is no under painting this time. I am using the "big poster shapes method". Great stretches of this one are only indicated by a tone at this point. I will take it out again and probably finish it tomorrow. This is an 18 by 24.

I am on a strict schedule here. I am working on a morning painting, this one, and an afternoon painting, the 24 by 30 I showed you before. It is not possible to work on a painting all day, as the light "flips over" at about noon and the light is exactly the opposite of that with which you started the painting. So I have several pictures going in rotation. I plan to work two days on each 18 by 24, and three on each 24 by 30. Sometimes I get an 18 by 24 out in one shot and I almost always can do a 16 by 20 one shot. I would rather go back on a painting several times as I am much faster outside, than in the studio.

I intend to ratchet up my schedule tomorrow and work three sessions a day. I want to have three going in rotation. I need to get a lot of work done for a gallery here in Texas. As I don't do much work from photos so I have to make the most of the time I am here. I can count on good light every day out here is desert land though and I am in production workaholic mode. There are no distractions here (other than the blog!) so I am free to just jam out the paintings. I already have about a half dozen, counting those I made in the hill country near Llano, Texas. Great little town that, loved it!
See you all tomorrow.

22 comments:

Deb said...

Stape, if only I had a truck, I would drive down and bring you some Moxie. But you obviously don't need it. These are looking so fantastic.
Have fun. Everything in Texas either bites, stings, pokes, scratches or some combination thereof. I know. I am a native Texan.

rahina q.h. said...

sounds like a painter's paradise:) wishing you all the best in meeting your deadline:)

Jim Polewchak said...

Stape; I painted there two years ago and became mesmirized wwith the landscape. I had a d'oh moment when I hiked about a mile up a mountain trail, only to discover I'd left my tube of white in the truck. Wish I was there. Have a great time!

Libby Fife said...

It looks beautiful and WARM there.

I read the "herding sheep" post too. I love conceptual stories like that and will think about it for my next painting. I also think it can apply to housework so thank you:)

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

One of my favorite places in the world! I remember camping March 3rd, and it was 103 at sunset.

mariandioguardi.com said...

De-Moxification! I feel your pain.

Pam Holnback said...

I love Big Bend. My husband and I were there 2 January's ago. It was cold, rainy, slippery, overcast. We stayed at the motel/lodge, way up in the mountains. We called the day before and were told that they had plenty of room! Getting back there again is on my list!

sarah meredith said...

These are wonderful landscapes! But call me a New Yorker, I have no idea what either a javalina or a moxie is. The javalinas sound bad, the moxie good!

Barbara Hageman, Artist said...

How do you deal with the extremely bright light outdoors in Western settings? Even with sunglasses and a hat, the contrasts are stark. Suggestions?

willek said...

Are you using the big Gloucester Easel out there? Are you painting with a group?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Deb;
Thanks. Send Moxie!
................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

rahina;
It is a painter's paradise.
.........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Jim:
There are few better places than Big Bend to paint.
..................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Libby;
Warm is an understatement. It goes into the high nineties during the day.
..........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Michael;
Come on down!
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Marian;
The pain is more a sense of aching loss.
........................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Pam; The motel is for the swells. I am camping in the dust.
............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Sra;
A javelina is like a small feral pig imitation. The Moxie is Americas oldest soft drink.
...............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Barbara;
It doesn't bother me, I do have a hat with a visor.
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

willek;
Yes of course I have the Gloucester easel. It is perfect for this trip.
I am traveling with Maine artist and dear friend, Scott Moore, from Stockton, Maine.
.......Stape

Helen T said...

You've been there long enough. Now come home so I can see you when I come home for Easter.
-Puffopod #2

ps. It looks beautiful there. I wish it was 90 here...

Connie said...

I've been wondering how it's possible to paint something larger, en plein air, and you've come up with the perfect solution! Start 3 and rotate them as the day progresses. Depending on the sun and weather, you could have three good paintings in a couple of days! Brilliant!