Highway 89 II

"Highway 89 II" Oil/Panel 8" X 48"

Just finished this second piece from Hwy 89…SE Utah, a few miles north of the Grand Canyon.

Painting this in the studio re-kindles my desire to spend some extended time out there painting. The image is from three photos stitched together, with an obvious vertical band in the center with a darker exposure. Keeping this artifact of the photo is an obvious reference to the process, but I was simply enamored of the image, including the operatic bluster of the storm over the plateau. Really lapsing into the romantic rhetoric of the 19th C. landscape people…Bierstadt, Church, etc…

Here are a few details, to help you get a notion of the nature of the surface, and the way the information of cliff, cloud, sand and brush are cobbled together and made into an image. The process of making these daubs and marks is always a huge pleasure, as the problems of drawing and organization have been solved, and I can impulsively build the splotches and edges of color which builds a palpable presence and space. The paint occasionally seems to become stuff and light. The paint also remains, at the same moment, erratic blobs of pigment. I’m forever enamored making this transformation, and seeing the paint hover between illusion and paint.

Hwy 89 II, detail

Hwy 89 II, Detail

The huge continuing problem is to make work which speaks of being there, of the raw delight I find in simply being there on that immense stage, in that clear light, in that weather, with my eyes open. The history of the places there also intrigue me, from the geology to the ruins to the recent struggles of people to find ways of living there, but I’ve been very hesistant to deal with those things directly.

I think an extended stay out there, in comparative wilderness, will be an important thing to do. Grand Gulch, Comb Ridge, Waterpocket Fold, the whole damned Colorado Plateau is singing a siren song.

I intend to keep these entries more frequent; the past few months have been a bit chaotic, particularly with the Big Draw here in Ruskin and the Community Mural. Hoping to keep things simpler and a bit more focused.