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"December Rain over Camas Prairie"
(Oregon High Desert)
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
5" x 7"
After observing some rather large Elk footprints on the road near my overnight camp, I left the little quarry pond and the Ring-necked Duck to themselves and headed for Lakeview, stopping occasionally to take photographs of Gearhart Mountain on the way. It was December 10th by now, and I had been away for a while and was approaching the true open High Desert … but not just yet. I needed to patronize the local Laundromat in Lakeview, and wash my mud stained clothes, and top up my supplies before the next, and more productive phase, painting-wise, of this foray into the Wild. Lakeview … tallest town in Oregon … at 4796 feet above sea-level it is the highest town in Oregon; and a surprisingly pleasant little place it is, nestled below the Warner Mountains to the east. Surprising, since it is unexpected way out here, just above Goose Lake and the extreme northeast California border and with Nevada also only a few miles away as well. I did not expect it to be as large as it is. I guess I also expected it to be a dusty poky little place … it is not. Of course I’ve only been here in Winter, since I first passed through on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 on my way to Oklahoma; and now this time in December.
The soap dispensing machine was out, and as I was steeling myself to have to buy and carry around a large bottle of soap from the local Safeway, a kindly elderly lady offered me the use of her soap bottle … very kind. My Carhartt insulated jeans will need another washing or maybe two to get all the ingrained mud out, but at least they are clean enough for now (it actually took only one more washing). After topping up my supplies and posting my annual membership dues to the AAA (American Automobile Association), I left town at 16:00 with cloud coming in from the southwest, after a lovely sunny day it had been thus far. The rain and gales from the California coast were on their way, and this time I believed they would reach this far. The rain had come in off and on since I had left the coast a couple of weeks before, and the wind had been threatening to come, but never had amounted to all that much, but it felt different this time.
It was late in the day so I only went a few miles to just inside the National Forest boundary, and spent the rainy windy night there. The next morning I found I had parked near a coyote kill or scavenged site (probably); only bones were left, gnawed and mostly in one spot, but with a few satellite remnants within fifty yards, or so. This is why I believe it was the work of coyotes; I visualize one or more of a group dragging off a leg bone or other part to feed away from the main kill. I will say I don’t know this for sure, but I file it away to compare with anything similar I may find in the future. There was no skull to be found, but by the size of the bones, I believe it was either a young deer or possibly a calf … I found no hooves, so I did not have that bit of diagnostic to go by either … file it away, Spock.
It was still windy and rainy, so I only drove a few miles from the coyote (?) kill/scavenge site, across the valley and up into the Warner Mountains, and found a campsite overlooking Camas Prairie, from which arises Camas Creek. Here I painted the above Oil Sketch, trying to capture the waterlogged day, over the Camas Prairie. Evidently the weather is vicious down on the coast, 200 miles away, and once this Pacific Storm blows I look forward to getting out into the open High Desert, even though I find it pleasant here within the Ponderosa Pines.
Imprimatura was W&N Venetian Red, with the Pigments used the usual Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna & Lead White #2, with Winsor & Newton Venetian Red and Cobalt and Ultramarine Blues.