Something to look forward to

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Something to look forward to

Postby Rebecca » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:39 pm

Greetings fellow sketchers,
As I grind away at my interminable project, I can now at least look forward to life after its completion. I will be moving to a very interesting, inspiring, and formidable location. Having lived in the lush manicured realm of the San Francisco Bay Area for most of my life, this will be a big change. I crave drama. And my new home will offer exactly that. I will learn its rhythms, its colors, its textures. I will come to appreciate the metaphors embedded in its features. Some might see it as a Godforsaken place, but in fact, it is an artist's delight. The landscapes and skies change by the hour. It can be craggy, and then soft. It can be threatening, and then sweetly benign. And just 30 minutes away, above the desert lowlands, I can also find graceful oak and grass meadows, and river gorges, and forests. The textures and colors are tremendously varied. The atmospheric and spatial effects are infinite. Wild Nature will come to my door. I will never be bored!
Artists live in this town. Artist's travel to this town. I hope that if all goes well, I will meet and paint with fellow artists, and teach a bit, too.
Something to look forward to.
Have any of you spent much time sketching or painting in the desert? Aside from some inevitable discomforts like heat and wind, how did you like the experience? How did you feel about your subject matter? Were you inspired? Any surprises for you?

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Rebecca
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby mjs » Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:26 am

I've never drawn or sketched in the desert but I've photographed there. I'm from the midwest, from land as flat as it comes, and have never gotten a good photograph there. I've just not been there often enough or long enough to stop gawking at it. The landscape was just not familiar enough for me to see beyond the superficial. Moving there is, I think, what it would take. Congratulations on a wonderful, marvelous, magical opportunity!

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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby mdmattin » Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:53 am

Hey Rebecca,
That is momentous news! Best of luck exploring your new intraplanetary world.
I have done a bit of sketching in the Sonoran desert around Tucson, and found it baffling at first. None of the familiar New England features were present; the colors were completely different, the dry air made distant things seem much closer, the shapes and proportions of the terrain were strange, etc. I was looking for some sort of unifying theme or story to use as a starting place and finally realized that it was the thing seemingly absent: water. The shapes and textures of the hills, with their intricate branching gullies, were a fractal record carved by the infrequent rains; the patterns of vegetation mapped the locations of scant ground water; and, of course, the region in prehistoric times had been lush wetlands or even under water. Once I had the idea of painting the absent water, it became easier to see the landscape in its own glory, rather than as a place that didn't look like Massachusetts.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Andre Jute » Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:07 am

I grew up in a desert, the Little Karoo in South Africa. It has interest and variety if you open your mind, even colour. It's just a different sort of interest and variety and colour to Northern California. And yes, the perspective is different, in the physical as well as the metaphysical sense. When you return to the city or even the towns nearer the coast, you might experience claustrophobia, and be amazed by it.

It's worth noting that the scale is both larger and very much smaller than one might be used to in the city, or a countryside in a more temperate zone, and to look out for the small.

I like your idea of "painting the absent water" very much, Matthew. But it isn't absent, it is locked in the soil and in plants, some of them tiny and lurking under the surface of the soil to appear for a glorious day or two once a year, before retracting again.

I don't see succulents in the photographs; they are especially difficult to paint because some have a sort of grey veil over the green.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Alitogata » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:24 pm

Wow .. what a wonderful place to live. :shock: You can paint its night skies too.

I've never live in a desert. I have never seen it in my life to tell you the truth. The closest to Greece kind of desert, is located to Libya that is below Crete island but again not that close. But it is not like this desert.. it is of the African kind, a hyper-saharan area. Nothing like this.

Very beautiful photographs but I think that the actual locations will be even more impressive. You are very lucky to have the chance to live there. Very inspiring place.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Rebecca » Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:16 am

Thanks for your replies so far, guys...

Mike, yes, the gawking factor. It takes me a couple weeks to acclimate to new scenery. And then it takes about 6 months to feel sure about the themes it will inspire. Luckily, there is sketching to fill out the time while that develops.

Matthew, absence of water -- that's an interesting twist. I wonder how that theme will play out. Certainly, absence of water is on everyone's minds, not only in the desert, but all over California and the world in general. I am not averse to getting political in my art (not that you were suggesting this at all).

Andre, yes, I've experienced that scale difference, close and far. Sand at my feet sculpts to appear as canyons; and in the distance with clear air, mountains sculpted by water share scale. A close grain of sand, a slightly farther pebble, a boulder -- all just as crisp, all of the same material; and by perspective, all can be the same size. You know, I don't think there are any non-spiny succulents in this desert. Only cactus. However, some of the other plants possess various coatings that guard against water loss, so they appear grey-green.

Thanks, Alitogata. Much of California has a Mediterranean climate like yours. Whenever we traveled south to see our California deserts, I enjoyed the dry air very much. Returning home, I realized how dank the Bay Area is by comparison. I have thought of moving to various locations, but if they were not desert, I decided against them. There is something about that dry air. I like it.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Alitogata » Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:14 am

I heard about the drought problem in California. We had similar problem ten years ago and I know first hand how hard is to limit your water needs to basics.
The area you are going to move is a remote one, or just a rural one but close to desert? :)

ETA. In any case US have so many different kind of places that a whole life isn't enough to see and paint all of them.
[just thoughts] And it is a pity that US state doesn't promote tourism the way it should. There are so many great places to visit there, which usually someone can find out from posts like yours, but no one is promoting officially these beautiful places to people outside the country. It is a policy mistake in my opinion because US could profit a lot if it had tourism as its heavy industry.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Rebecca » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:29 am

Alitogata wrote:The area you are going to move is a remote one, or just a rural one but close to desert?...And it is a pity that US state doesn't promote tourism the way it should. There are so many great places to visit there, which usually someone can find out from posts like yours, but no one is promoting officially these beautiful places to people outside the country...

This small town is in the desert in the center of a huge state park. It is isolated, but the area is promoted as a tourist and recreation destination. Many of the thousands of visitors per year are from foreign countries.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby gpathy » Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:24 am

Wow.. quite a different place than the SF Bay area. I cannot imagine a shift like that. I am sure its going to offer lots of interesting experiences ! I believe one has to take the time to adapt and ease into the new environment.
Though I have no clue about how you will cope missing that huge Blick store on Market street ! :)
Best wishes.. Looking forward to hearing the experiences.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby johunter » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:12 pm

What a wonderland Rebecca, really looks like an artist's dream. I've never been to a desert but I'm a big fan of Cathy Johnson who has done a lot of sketching and painting in desert regions. Her blog might offer some insight in the benefits/disadvantages, the main thing is I know she loves it. Hope you have a most wonderful adventure!
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Rebecca » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:37 am

Thanks, Johunter. I'm definitely looking forward to moving to this place. I really feel I will be inspired more there than here in the Bay Area. I searched links to Cathy Johnson and found little other than how-to's on depicting a few deserty things. Nothing on overall impressions, or comparison or contrast and such. Perhaps you know where she put her impressions? Soon enough, I'll be in the middle of it, talking with fellow painters about the whole thing.

gpathy, Funny thing about the big art supply stores in the Bay Area. I pretty much stopped going to them. I get my supplies online now, so I won't miss them.

I'll be sure to share my sketches from the desert as soon as some are made. :)
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Andre Jute » Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:54 am

Your superb photographs keep drawing me back, Rebecca. That's an inspirational landscape. I look forward to seeing how it influences your art.
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Re: Something to look forward to

Postby Rebecca » Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:17 pm

Andre Jute wrote:Your superb photographs keep drawing me back...

I know what you are talking about. I've been having a hard time focusing on my work. I keep getting distracted by the pictures.
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