View from Lost Mine Trail

I am artistically drawn to gnarly little shrubs or trees on the edge cliffs.  I like how they seem to defy the odds by surviving in less than ideal conditions.


Lost Mine Trail is a beautiful hike in Big Bend NP. I painted this in studio from some old photos from the early 90s. 


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Paint Gap Hills

Paint Gap Hills - 8x10-inch oil on canvas panel.
Paint Gap Hills - 8x10-inch oil on canvas panel.

Camping along Paint Gap Road in Big Bend was something I will never forget. Not because of anything in particular that happened-not much ever happens out here-but simply because of the extremes of the high desert here in far west Texas. Extremes such as a darkness at night that makes star gazing wildly entertaining. Is that even possible?


Extreme quiet, but for the sounds of wind and occasional wildlife howling or scurrying about.


Extreme vastness and a feeling of smallness.


And extreme beauty that can only be appreciated in person.


This area is actually the beginning southern tip of the Rocky Mountains. Let's call it a dryer, thornier version. But high in the nearby mountains you'll find an alpine oasis that escapes the extreme heat of the day. After the day winds down, return to this campsite, pull up a chair, sit by your tent with a nice beverage, maybe a cigar, and wait for the grilled fajitas, onions and peppers to finish their magic, and enjoy the absolutely incredible feeling of knowing there is a Creator. It slaps you right in the face.  


And Then It Dies

The Century Plant (agave americana) spends its life, some 10 to 30 years, building up enough energy to make one final swan song. Almost overnight it sends up a stalk that can rise 20 to 30 feet, with strange looking yellow flowers, dripping with sweetness. And soon after this gorgeous display, it begins to decline, and then it dies.


This is a studio painting from near Boot Spring in Big Bend National Park. 


11x7 inch oil on canvas panel. 


To purchase this painting, click here.


A Painting's Long Journey

View from Emory Peak - 12x9-inch oil on canvas panel.
View from Emory Peak - 12x9-inch oil on canvas panel.

This painting took about two hours to complete, but its journey began over thirty years ago. That's right, over three decades! I know what you are thinking. Probably should be a little more, um, awesome, considering. Well, consider this Chief, it is the only one of its kind in the entire Universe! 


So's a fingerprint, right?


But I digress. As I said, many years ago this painting's journey began. I was hiking up Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park. One of the highest peaks in all of Texas. High enough, in fact, that the park Lodge and Gift Shop far below looked like Legos.


Looking down into the Chisos Basin, I photographed this view. Who knew that some thirty years later this snap of the camera  would become a slide which would be the subject matter for a painting in 2019. Wow, is it really 2019? By the way, what's a "slide".


Back in the late 20th century I tended to use slides for my photography. For you younger folks, slides are...oh just Google it. Anyway, as an artist I am constantly looking for subject matter to paint, so one of my resources for in-studio works are my old slides. My process for these involves scanning them at high resolution for use from my laptop.


So there you have it. A really really long journey...but wait! There's more. Oh so much more.


Before I started laying paint to canvas, first I had to create some 358 other paintings...each adding in their own way to my ability to create this one, through trial and error, frustration and satisfaction, wanting to give it up completely, and then reconsidering a few days later.  Are you grasping this? Art is a journey. Okay, so maybe I'm overselling a bit here. But there really is a point to all of this if you think about it.


So with all of that, let's review the steps taken for composing and completing "View from Emory Peak":


Step 1. Drove to Big Bend (about 10 hours).

Step 2. Hiked up Emory Peak (8,000 feet above sea level).

Step 3. Photographed the view.

Step 4. Painted 358 other works of art (about 30 years).

Step 5. Applied paint to canvas (about 2 hours).

Waalah! And there you have it. The long journey of a typical painting. Now, go buy someone's art. This one can be purchased here.


And below, for no particular reason, is a picture of a strapping young me in 1994-ish, hiking and sporting a fine mullet.

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Practical Magic

Fishing lures have always captivated me. Beyond just their layers of thick paint and shiny varnish, there is something magical about them.


That you can toss them into a body of water and (with some patience) reel in a live creature is one of those  simple things in life that makes me happy.


It's a little bit like the feeling I get from planting a seed in my garden and eventually having something I can actually eat. Or converting a blank canvas into something that someone might hang on their wall. That's my own practical magic!


I'm beginning a new series of fishing-lure paintings from items in my own tackle box. I have blogged about the similarities between painting and fishing so it seems like a natural fit. If I like the way these are going I may eventually begin buying vintage plugs and painting them as well. I think it might make for a great gift for that fisherman in your family to combine the painting with the actual vintage lure. I may play around with the idea of framing them together...we'll see.


Each painting  will be an 8x8-inch oil on panel and painted in still-life format in my studio. 


This first painting features a Heddon Lucky 13 top-water lure that I managed to use with a lot of success (catch and release only). It's simplicity and beauty is something that is hard for a black bass to resist. Tried and true for many generations. 

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