Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Summer Crop of Paintings

Culvert Pool, Independence Pasture
I think this is the first green painting I’ve done out here — summer green. Nets of green algae floating in a golden dust, green reeds growing upright out of the pond muck, cottonwood sucker shoots growing down the bank with cottonwood flowers, making the “cotton” that blows from cottonwoods in the summer.

Roadside Reed Sunset with Fence
Irrigation canals and ditches lace the valley floor, crossing pastures and front yards, often flowing beside roadways and under highways through culverts. In late summer their reeds turn reddish, drying to yellow and white during winter. The low sun shines almost horizontally, flaring in dry reeds and grasses like lanterns. 

Winter Field Willow Wheels
Drought has dry-rotted the water trees and scorched the fields tan and dun and grey. Clumps of willows curl as they mummify,  resembling old farm machinery left to rust.

Redbirch with Jizo Shrine and Pilgrim
Creek banks are worn with fisherman’s paths and small hollows, like deer beds, where they have crouched, watching staked poles for a yank on the line. I discovered an old tree stump, once whittled into the shape of a chair, now obscured by coyote willow and saplings. Somehow the chair became an image of the Japanese saint Jizo, and the roving fisherman a pilgrim. 

Bishop Canal With Wrongway Trailer
Working with greens, pinks, and eggshell colors, I scratched up a canal scene with a palette reminds me of old French tapestry.
Here is a puzzle — why is the trailer “wrongway”?

Sea of Grass with Old Wooden Rowboat, Pt. Pinole
I continue to paint views from Pt. Pinole Regional Park in the Eastbay, based on photos taken there when I lived in Crockett, around 1990, shortly after it was opened to the public. The land juts into the Bay, north of Richmond and south of San Pablo Bay. During the War it was a (remote) site of black powder explosives manufacture and packing. Covered with oatgrass and eucalyptus and odd abandoned structures, foundations, bunkers. It has been developed since, lots of picnic tables, barbecues, kiddie gyms, paved paths with cyclists — but in those early years it was a sort of feral California classic coastal hills place and I often went there with friends to wander around in the seaside summer dusk until the park closed at dark.

Grey Creekside Trio, County Road
Not sure what these trees are — possibly alders? Smooth bark, stunted, broken off, but supporting vertical branches that do look like alder trunks. Dried thickets and stumps line the irrigation watercourses, tangled up in fences and ditch gates and each other, all grey, brittle and leafless in winter.

Borrego Dawn with Derelict Irrigation Tower
Acres of land surrounding the town of Borrego Springs are derelicted agricultural plots, now sand with creosote bush, palm thrash, tumbleweeds. The towers and pipes of irrigation systems stand barren, or like this one, overgrown with some sort of willow vine dried to salmony-brickish color in the heat.

Appaloosa in Winter Pasture
Pack stations corral their horses and mules in the foothills during summer, but when snow shuts down the trails, the animals are moved to pastures in the valley for the winter. Therefore the grey cottonwood trunks, white dry grasses and flaring reddish coyote willow surrounding this horse with appaloosa markings.

Appaloosa in Stableyard

An odd picture — an experiment with the spotted horse meant to remain a sketch — yet I added imaginary stableyard walls and shadows, in color combos I haven’t used before in Eastern Sierra paintings. Don’t know if this is merely a ’sport’ or a possible first peek at a new-to-me color palette.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July at Crowley Lake and Shooting Range Art

By mid-June it was too hot to stay in Tuttle Creek Campground. My LYTA season pass (Long Term Visitor Area permit to camp, move around at will in four Eastern Sierra BLM campgrounds) gets me a site at Crowley Lake Campground, northernmost of the four camps. 

Cooler! Greener! Summer thunderstorms with real rain and the lake shimmering down below in Long Valley’s pastures.
Looking east at the Glass Mountain crest beyond Crowley Lake:

Looking west into the Sierra Nevada just south of Convict Lake:

Shooting Range up the telephone pole service road — Have no idea whose clubhouse-property this may be, but I took photos of the painted rocks I found there:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Clouds and Rocks in the Alabama Hills

..... just east of Lone Pine, close by where I am camped, almost too rich a source of sky forms to limit with a camera, but here’s a few of my faves:

The Lozenge
 precipitated out of the lenticular solution — the blur is not from a fast drop caught by a slow shutter, that’s the way it smeared itself in the breeze: 

The Oyster  
hovered for a long afternoon, changing colors and shapes into the sunset: 

I captured the Gold Saucer shapes, went inside to load new batteries, and emerged into the red version of the same shapes:

Rock Formations of the Alabama Hills are similarly almost impossibly rich in shapes and colors; how to choose? Where to stand? Changing light changes colors minute by minute, harsh glare and shadow reveals, then obliterates, their shapes.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tuttle Creek Campground Easter 2015

WINDY !— April winds, my Chalet triangular peak a fiberglass boat standing in boulders and sagebrush against an ocean of air. - hope it doesn’t turn into a sail … wish the winds carried water — Sierra snowpak at 12% of normal. I am worried about fires, but the lady in Lone Pine who cuts my hair said there’s not much left to burn — she’s lived here 70 years and says she’s never seen it so dry. 

I continue to make watercolor-and-color pencil paintings and will post photos to my painting-portfolio website: 

Those of you who have already seen it, I will henceforth post the new stuff under a link: RECENT WORK   (sometime soon....)

Cool enough at night to turn on the Li’l Buddy Portable radiant propane heater. I performed a DIY swap-out of the pilot assembly fix (available on Amazon for 16 bucks instead of replacing heater 80 bucks) and now it does work again, although I worry — since after I struggled to tinker it apart and then wobble it back together, I realized I had three screws left in my pocket that I had taken out and not put back in, plus bits of broken plastic on the floor, oops. 

On Easter and other big weekend holidays myself and the other LTVA (all-season-long) campers bunker down and hide in our rigs. Traffic is crazy-dusty and visitors try to swim in the creek, which is all of about 4 inches deep and swarming with coloform bacteria ….. however, it appears women are nervous about contagion from latrines and swath the toilets in layers of toilet paper before they perch, and then leave their swathings for the next suburbanite to throw on the floor and in turn weave their own fluffy emergency toilet seat sanitary covers — got knee-deep in there one weekend with a church group. But that’s better than the ones who just stand on the toilet seat and let fly. I thought the suntan had died out with smoking as cancer-friendly behavior, but out here I see visitors strip to swimsuits or undies and sit in the sun with a bottle of coconut oil, and smoke. Old timers smoke too, and living in an RV is one way for a non-home-owner to continue smoking at home, but desert rats don’t sit in the sun. They sit in the shade or walk around with long sleeves, long pants, and big hats — like real cowboys do. How to tell real cowboys from pretend?  Gloves — people who work outdoors wear gloves.

Stay well, save water, and remember that insect bites and salad greens are more likely to infect you with deadly germs and viruses than public toilet seats.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Signs of Borrego

Spent the winter at PegLeg flat dirt dry campground just outside of Borrego Springs — the townsite private property donut hole in the middle of Anza Borrego State Park. 

View from PegLeg:

PegLeg is an unofficial campground of uncertain jurisdiction. Apparently the acreage was once private property but has since been deeded to the Park, and the Park continues to tolerate its decades-old tradition of dry camping. Favorite snowbird sojourn for Canadians and Californians. Nice folks for neighbors, and warmer weather than the Eastern Sierra, especially at night. However, I had arrived just before a December storm, snow in the mountains, and departed just after the spring storm with (less) snow first week of March. Many wildflowers! — but mostly I liked the local signage:

A few miles up the road lies a sandy, muddy flood plain where real estate for sale signs have aged into the condition of a strange indecipherable language:

And southeast lies Ocotillo Wells State OHV Park, and this cartoon vehicle signs the entrance to a private campground across the road where more hootin’ and hollerin’ behaviors are allowed.

Farewell Borrego Springs, I am on the road to Tuttle Creek in the slopes of the Eastern Sierra!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It Was a Long Summer in Tuttle Creek Campground

and it’s over. I haven’t written a post since July, so I’ll y’all up on happenings since then. In September I searched for, found, and bought a new-to-me trailer from a retired doctor living in a 3-storey cabin at the north end of Lake Tahoe. It’s an A-frame pop-up by Chalet of Oregon. The triangular walls are made of a foam core-plexiplastic-sheathing laminate, and fold up on long piano hinges somewhat like one of those white Chinese food take-out cartons. Makes a low, flat, lightweight  package pretty easy to tow. Has the same floor plan and square footage of my Santa Fe Trailer, but more elbow room and less storage. It has good brakes, intrinsic stabilizers, and best of all: a refrigerator! 

The falling-out back end of my bohemian Santa Fe bed-sitting studio was re-fastened to its undergirding by a resourceful and reckless camp host, Shane, and wife Jasmine. We agreed on a price (cheap) and Shane jimmied the springs (crawled under the trailer and pounded boards into rusting iron sections) to raise the frame high enough to clear the speed bumps-drainage gutters out of the campground, and then towed it south to the Salvation Army in Ridgecrest, where it was accepted as a “donation.”  I told them the truth about its condition, but they seemed to think it could still be welcome extra housing for a poor family out in the boonies around Ridgecrest or Inyokern. Maybe a Grannie House — I’d like to think of it as being again a peaceful shelter for a woman.

It’s kinda like moving out of a lath-and-plaster apartment from the 20’s and into a suburban subdivision condo; “you’re moving up!” as a friend teased. And it is a well-preserved 2003 that was handled gently and stored for six years in a carport before I drove it to Lone Pine. I don’t love it the way I loved my splintering vintage Santa Fe tinder box, but it is a clean machine that keeps out the rodents, the rain, and the cold. 

I dunno about painting in it, tho. May be too “nice.” A studio is a place where you can make a mess, nail stuff to the walls, screw stuff to the table, spill paint, slop paint. I think I”ll buy a replacement dinette table and keep it in storage, so I can make my art messes on the one I’ve got without anxiety about “ruining” it. (How does that middle-class “nice” still have the power to make me nervous about ruining it for the sake of making art? Maybe I should just stomp out to my truck, retrieve the hatchet stashed therein, charge back inside and whack some liberating ruination into this Flawless White Formica before I go to bed tonight, already, dammit.) I have lotsa drawings and plans for new work but haven’t felt “seated” or “centered” enough to let go of vigilance and sink into the deep interior pool of focus and feeling that painting requires of me.

As it gets colder, I am thinking about moving south for the winter — maybe check out Yuma, Quartzite, other Snowbird winterhavens. I am visiting Tucson for a week before Thanksgiving, and if I like it, I may look for a winter campground nearby. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lanterns in the Wind

Ten lanterns from the windy slopes below Lone Pine Peak. Small paintings, all 6 x 8 inches on watercolor paper. Lanterns or lamps. Using up a small pan of Pelikan genuine gold watercolor that I think I've been carrying around since I left Los Angeles in the late '80s.