I know … I know it’s been a month since my last post! I had hoped to have this post prepared and posted shortly after the last one on June 28th, which presented my last Oil Sketch from my High Desert Winter’s sojourn. Since then I have sadly been back in “civilization,” working on a commission for two medium large, detailed Oils for Royalty; no, not British Royalty, and I am not at liberty to divulge anything further in print, as it is stipulated in the contract not to do so. I also desired to have them finished before the heat of the Summer set in, but I expect not to reach completion until September’s end. This is also why I have been drawing out the posting of my Winter’s story, and as I have said I hoped to have this posted shortly after my last post, as it would have neatly tied up that story, before I took a break by going down to the Central Oregon Coast, and attending the opening of the Coos Art Museum 22nd Annual Maritime Show. The postings for that interlude will begin to appear shortly.
Winter in the far “out” High Desert of Oregon was a most interesting and eye opening experience, and it was indeed “far out,” in two senses of the word; far out, as in time and space, and far out, as in “really out there, man!” as in somewhat surreal. I have discovered that from the point of view of where the bulk of Oregon’s population resides (that is between the Coast Range and the Pacific Ocean), when I mention Winter Camping out in the High Desert, most persons have immediately thought of around the Bend area, which is really just the beginnings of the High Desert. But when I tell them that no I was further out and east of Lakeview, those that know where Lakeview is (and many in civilized Oregon do not, it seems), say, “Oh … you were really out there!”; by which I take them to mean in time and space, and perhaps for some a surrealist tinge as well. It was all those things for me.
From the Portland area, I was roughly three times as far out there as it is to the Bend area (and with still a lot of miles to go before reaching Oregon’s eastern border), and thus farther in time taken to get there, before even considering that you feel you are in a different, more distant time as well … past … future … who can say? And surreal, too! I suppose what I really mean by surreal is a feeling of being touched by the inimitable, under these broad skies and vast landscapes; a lecture on surrealism at the Tate Gallery in my early days in London, comes to mind, where the lecturer defined the term as super realism. I have felt this before in the all the wild places I have experienced; all day alone, drawing on a rugged North Cornwall beach, not another person to be seen; ten miles from the nearest road in the Highlands of Scotland; every time I’ve gone into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota; inimitable … surreal … super real. Perhaps that this is relative, and for those few souls that reside out there, it is just part of their everyday existence, its specialness not to be noticed. But I doubt that not to be true for most of those, even if such terms as surreal, inimitable or super real, are not familiar; they will have different words, maybe, but the feelings will be the same, save for such that are totally insensitive.
Besides learning more about the variety of colour mixed from my severe palette, and the way the paint handles on the surfaces of the various panels I used, there were specific lessons assimilated … such as which Winter roads to avoid (see, Mud, and the few posts thereafter) … and if I go down the wrong road, that I don’t panic and thus have a better chance of getting myself out of what I got myself into … that there is more to the High Desert than a boy from the Northwoods of the Great Lakes, ever considered … such as more wild life than expected, even unseen (witness all the tracks in the snow) … the severe beauty of this landscape, which I have only begun to touch. In short … more time will be spent coming to terms with this inimitable landscape; with painting, and observing, and taking the time to let it all wash over me.