There's something about a blue jay's loud jeer that brings on a nostalgic feeling I can't really explain. Our senses have a way of doing that, of taking us places in a form of time travel.
Like smelling freshly mowed grass or holding an old book read to you as a child and pausing over one particular illustration for some unknown reason. Tasting butterscotch pudding or chili made from your Dad's recipe.
These little sensory memory cells hold bits and pieces of us for a lifetime. Waiting to be summoned at a moment's notice.
Blue Jay - 6x6-inch oil on canvas panel.
When I paint longhorns I can't help but think of the man considered the Dean of Texas Artists, Mr. Charles Franklin Reaugh (1860–1945). Reaugh was a prolific painter, mostly small works, of unsettled regions of the Southwest and longhorns were a favorite subject of his. Many of his pastels and oils were "plein air" paintings from around Wichita County, where I grew up. A true Texas renaissance man.
Texas Longhorn - 6x6-inch oil on canvas panel by Kent Brewer.
Here in this part of north Texas we have a soil type that is referred to as the "blackland prairie" for obvious reasons. Years ago in Greenville, which is about 100 miles to the east, there was a sign at the city limits that welcomed visitors to "the blackest land, the whitest people." Political correctness has since done away with the sign and slogan since the "whitest people" part might not be taken in the way it was originally intended which, in Webster's definition, meant: of good character marked by upright fairness. Understandable that it no longer exists, no doubt... I get that. But I'm pretty sure that the racial overtones weren't intended back in the day.
The interesting thing about our soil, and the reason for the title of this piece, is that it sits on a bed of white limestone just a few feet down which makes for intense contrasts where exposed. Like an Oreo cookie.
I tried to represent this union of opposites in this painting, with the plowed fields next to the limestone dirt road winding around the tree. This is a smaller version of the same scene which I painted a few years ago.
...and no one is there to hear it - it's probably a good thing. Rocks the size of large trucks falling from 1,500 feet are nothing you want to be near. There is no telling how long ago this thing landed. For perspective it's about 60 feet tall and wide.
This is Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. I painted this in-studio from a photo I took years ago while rafting the Rio Grande.
Original painting by Kent Brewer
Title: Canyon Solitude
Inventory No.: 0331
Size (inches): 14x11
Media: oil on birch wood
Location: Big Bend NP, Texas
$950 plus shipping
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