Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Painting Blog

I paint, along the road, each year out west, on my way to various teaching jobs in California, New Mexico and Colorado.

These road paintings are my raw material and they usually lead me somewhere in my studio painting each winter, back on the Brooklyn waterfront.

I had called the process, "The Western Jaunt", back in the 1990's when I traveled, after Walt Whitman's "Open Road" idea. There was something of the sacred, idea, in that search, after Harold Bloom and Emerson's idea of mirroring what we see as "what is best and oldest in our selves".

Today the more profane, idea, of "Road Movie" and "On the Road" pervades this travel. It is the juxtaposition of the two which interests me these days.

I am alone there much of the time, and so much goes unnoticed. So here it goes-- let me know what you think.

There is a website at with Studio paintings, Gallery information, and Archives of work.

Below are posts of the first leg of my journey. I will be returning to New Mexico next week through Big Sur and Yosemite.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Starting out in New Mexico

I saw a great Maynard Dixon Painting of the Pedernal, at a gallery in Santa Fe.

The Pedernal is a flat topped mountain that Georgia O'Keeffe painted over and over during her life. This painting was made in 1931 when Maynard spent, with his then wife Dorthea Lange, about 8 months painting in NM and around Taos.

It reminded me of a Hopper painting I knew and I walked down to the book store and saw Hopper had painted a very similar painting of Cape Cod the same year. Dixon would have been aware of these paintings, I think.

I say all of this as Dixon is such a good western painter because his form is molded from eastern tradition which is linked to the larger European.

Most painter's out West come in on the larger painting conversation in the middle and don't really know the voices. Maynard is talking to Hopper, and the early Modernists, though he mainly is true to the landscape in front of him-- through them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monument Valley

I headed through Monument Valley. There is a campground there owned by the Navajo Nation. There is always something broken or wrong and I guess this keeps the amount of tourists down. This time the whole campground was closed. They had primitive camping open in a great view of the Mittens monument and so I had the space almost to myself. I painted all evening and woke at 4:30 to coyotes howling and the full moon. I figured out how to make a time exposure in the morning light. Painted until it was hot and took off to find a shower.

You can click on photo of campground and get a higher res picture, see the Pleaides above Monument!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

North Rim Grand Canyon

I saw on the map the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is at 9,000 ft, so I figured it was cooler, the desert was nearing 100'.

I never was attracted to the Grand Canyon as it is such a tourist trap, but the North side is nice, the day I was there very open.

I only had that evening to paint so I really hustled to find a representative view. Then I had to figure out a painterly strategy.

Monday, July 7, 2008


One of the qualities of sublime type landscape is that one can never remember the amazing grandeur of it. Zion is Biblical -- in this way, then our profane world intrudes upon that experience. The park is always over crowded, and there is only one narrow road.

At those moments I ask myself, why I do I do this? Then it becomes even more of a challenge. I found a spot outside of the range of tourists. They find me an attraction like a bear that has been spotted and the hoard makes it's direction toward me--

It was 105' now and I found a shady tree I could paint under. I painted for 3 hours and was spent by the heat.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Nevada Heat

I took off from Utah in the cool morning camping at 6,000 ft or so.

I crossed a first Range and through the basin and valley, up through another range. The whole of Nevada is a washboard of this up and down, basin and range. Coming into the second valley I saw one of those great blue mountains tilted with a skirt of erosion flowing down. I like to paint in these situations where I never even decide if I should paint or not-- I'm just overtaken by the scene and am just into it.

I had to get going though as the forecast heat was 115'