Painting the Western Landscape

Collection of paintings and drawings from my life in the American West.

Dead Horse Point. Acrylic on Panel 32"x49" 2015
This is the iconic oxbow of the Colorado River at Dead Horse Point in Dead Horse State Park, Utah. My wife and I drove down to Moab for a weekend with some friends a few winters back, and I finally created a painting from that trip.

Bandalier. Acrylic on Panel. 32" x 49" 2014
This painting, from a trip to Bandalier, New Mexico, depicts dessicated scrub of creosote bushes on a hot day in mid summer as a storm blows in. The cumulonimbus build over the mountains under the disturbance of the frontline, and may just burn off over the plain and never reach the dry old trees. (The white branches are a survival strategy of the creosote, dropping needles in seasons of drought to conserve water.)
The image below more accurately captures the hue of the sky, yet drops out the landscape- getting a good photo of a large painting is tricky.
Bandalier. Acrylic on Panel. 32" x 49" 2014
In-process image before transparent washes, with the sky/clouds under construction and boosted landscape light dappling.
Assumption of The West over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico. Acrylic on Panel. 36" x 48" 2014
 
My windows for painting open and close sporadically, and I've learned to just jump in on something that I find inspiring and challenging and maybe impossible. Any less, and the result is a "practice painting" that stacks against the wall in a pile of things to get back to after I'm dead. After a few trips to Santa Fe and many evenings of shooting sunrise and sunsets over the Sangre de Christo mountains, I thought this might be the most impossible painting choice- and that decided it. 
Acrylic can’t be blended like oils, so colors must constantly be remixed and matched- which makes for multiple opaque and semi-transparent layers. The closer one looks, the more layers can be seen; like relaxed pointalism. Photographs of the painting compress the layers, or drop them out- so the images here are without the depth or complexity of the painting. This is a good thing for the painting, as it means it lives separtley from an image of itself and in that way is akin to the landscape that inspired it.

Alpine Meadows Sunset. Acrylic on Panel. 24" x 48" 1998

This image captures a Montana summer evening that my father and I headed up the hill for a sunset inspection of the Angus herd. On the high ridges the view to the North takes in the Highwood Mountains and Square Butte. This deep blue hills are the area where Charlie Russell lived with the Blackfoot tribe and created many of his iconic works. This was my first large landscape painting. I would not return to painting til 2009, after my father's death from cancer, with the Entropy Bale series- they have their own file on the Studio Art page. 
 
Alpine Meadows at Sunset. Acrylic on Canvas Panel. 18" x 24" 1997.
I began this painting while chairing a High School art department in Colorado, and put it aside when I left teaching. My father let me come to his ranch while I figured out what I would do with myself, and I finished it as the snows of September began. It depicts the same evening on the high meadows as the larger panel. Resolving this smaller painting gave me the inspiration for the larger painting, where I investigated a different approach to color relationships laying them side by side rather than layering and blending.
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