Mary Oliver (in Evidence: Poems) said something that
often resonates with me:
"Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I
am to be blessed."
No matter where I stood on a recent camping sojourn
to the Big Bend National Park in TX I felt very blessed.
Painting in plein air does not come easily to me, especially when I am overwhelmed by the uniqueness of a new area. But I love to sketch...it seems somehow more forgiving and less frightening. I took a little time recently to study the incredible mountains surrounding us in the Chisos Basin, an incredible spot of ancient geologic formations and history.
I put a few park stamps in my sketchbook when we entered the park as I thought it would be a unique reminder in years to come. This is a warmer-up sketch one morning where I was clearly paying too much attention to far too many details. That's what happens to me when I am in a new area.
The next day I singled out the well known formation called "Casa Grande" which reigned over us from our spot in the campground. It had little else around it which made it much easier to capture the lines of the rocks.
Isn't this a grand place to work? Perched on a rock, steps from our Airstream with nary a soul in sight? Makes one realize what a tiny little blip in time we are.
This is not quite complete but so much better than my first attempt. Reducing complexity to a simple rendering that still captures the essence is quite a challenge. I know that working like this, letting my eyes linger on the details and my whole being inhale the aura and the grandeur, will be of great help in painting this from a photo later on in the studio. Authenticity in painting a place is so much more than replicating every single mark from a photo. I can't wait to lay out the colors for this one.