Thursday, December 28, 2017

Snow in the Desert

Wednesday, 20th December_Thursday, 28th December, 2017; Canyonlands N.P., Utah.


The day after my last posting, revisited a couple of trails, and a new one from the Devil’s Garden Campground to Tapestry Arch to the back side of Broken Arch, through that one, and circling back through some fins to my car.  I had done the walk to Broken Arch from the front side earlier in my sojourn in the Arches National Park area.  On this last walk the day’s overcast was beginning to clear away allowing some wonderful late afternoon light to flood the landscape.  By the time I reached my SUV it was about 45 minutes to Sundown, so I prepared and ate supper in the picnic area at the Devil’s Garden.  Here I was also able to fill my water bottles, the only available water in the Park other than at the Visitor Center near the main entrance.  By the time I returned to my dispersed campsite, it was dark, and so I put on my headlamp, turned to the red light setting, and scanned the sagebrush, looking for eyes … there were.  I turned the light to bright white in time to spot the Bobcat that had strolled through my camp two days before, and who now scurried off when I said “I see you!” 

The far side of Broken Arch.

Sun breaking through as I came out of the Fins.


I had checked the Weather Underground on my way back to camp and there was a bit of snow in the forecast, amounting to about an inch.  I wondered whether we would get any as there were lots of stars poking through the cloud breaks, and the sunset had been good.  When I awoke on the morning of the 21st, and looked at my watch, I was thinking it should be a bit brighter than it seemed to be.  Snow covered all my window; four inches of it I soon discovered.  There was a bit of a break, but while I breakfasted, it began anew, and when it lightened up at about 13:00, another four inches had fallen.  I gingerly drove out of camp the 3-1/2 miles to the primitive loo at the Klondike Bluffs trailhead.  It was fairly straightforward driving through the virgin snow, only needing my 2-wheel drive through the 8” snowfall. On my return journey I stopped at the usual spot where I had Internet access, and dashed off a few emails, and checked the Weather again … the snowfall was over, and the next day was set to be sunny.

Snow in the Desert on the 21st.

My Campsite the day after the Snowfall.

Where I’ve come from …

   … where I’m going.
And it was.  I decided I had better try to get out of the snowy wilds as the wash the road passed through to get to Klondike Bluffs, from the main Park road, was said to be impassable when wet.  I debated whether to go the 10 or 12 miles north to the highway, which I had never done, or attempt the usual route through the wash and up the 3 mile long hill to the main Park road, near the Devil’s Garden.  I headed along the usual route, following my own tire tracks past Klondike Bluffs, then through the powdery virgin snow, stopping now and then to study animal tracks crossing the road.  The snow was too powdery make identification, other than those rodent tracks heading to and from their burrows, a few bird tracks, including wing impressions at the entrance to one burrow … I wonder if the denizen of the den was captured. The larger trails I suspect were of deer.
 
Then down into the wash for several hundred yards, and now for the first time, I put ‘er into 4-wheel drive as began the long incline up to the blacktop.  It was quite a slog, but I made it to the top, and found the gate closed as I had feared it might be.  On close inspection, I discovered that the padlock had not been closed; it only looked so from a little distance.  I passed through and replaced the lock as I had found it.

Snowy Fins.

Skyline Arch.

The Wall of Elephants.

Delicate Arch from the Garden of Eden,
several miles away.

I had the Park all to myself for 5 hours, taking snow photos, as they had closed it for snowplowing.  No wonder those snowplows I waved to as I passed by looked at me strangely.  I saw my first car, and then a second, and then a flurry as I neared Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock.

Park Avenue.

The next two nights were spent on Willow Springs Road, where I had spent a few nights in early November.  The intervening day was spent going to see “The Last Jedi,” which I found very enjoyable.  The second morning I awoke at this new campsite was cold … about 8°F … but it must have been a damp cold as it felt so much colder than it was.  When I climbed up to the visitors center, in the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park, I discovered that it had been only down to 28°F that morning … 20 degrees warmer than down below!  Evidently, it often is warmer in the Winter up there than down in Moab, a couple thousand feet below, in its bowl where all the cold air flows down to and settles.  That made up my mind for me … I would stay in the National Park Campground, at Willow Flats (as opposed to Willow Springs Road), over Christmas.

View down onto the White Rim,
from the Grand View Trail, Canyonlands,
with the La Sal Mountains beyond.

Closer …

… and closer still.

Still on the …

… Grand View Trail.

 Island in the Sky is a very irregular mesa top, with an altitude averaging 6000’, with overlooks into the canyon systems of the Colorado and Green Rivers, whose confluence lies a few miles to the south.  There are a few actual glimpses of the Green.  Funny to think I was near the headwaters of the Green but four months ago when camping at Mosquito Lake in the northern Wind River Range, and it was the same Green that passes through the Gates of Lodore, and Split Mountain, both of which I saw when in Dinosaur National Monument.  The colours on the cliffs, in the sunlight, seen from these various Canyonlands viewpoints are wonderful, especially early or late in the day.

The Green River Overlook.

Closer still to see the Green River ...
the formation on the center right is the Turks Hat.


The most interesting trail for me is the one to the Upheaval Dome overlooks.  In a nutshell, there are two theories of its origin.  One says that a salt dome pushed up and cracked the rocks above, and the other is that it was formed by a meteor strike.  I plump for the latter, because of the double ring surrounding the hilly mass in the center, highly reminiscent of the craters on the Moon.  It was discussed with others at the first overlook and we decided … definitely a meteor!  Take note, you at the National Geological Office.  Next is the Needles district of Canyonlands.


Upheaval Dome from the 1st overlook …
definitely a meteor strike. 


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Moonlight in the Garden of Eden.

Friday, 15th December_Tuesday, 19th December, 2017; Arches N.P., Utah.


 C1649
“Moonlight in the Garden of Eden”
(Arches National Park, Utah)
Oil Sketch on Centurian Oil Primed Panel
5” x 7”




(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)



Night in the wild places, especially under the light of the Moon, is truly magical, especially when not an artificial lamp is to be seen, and so a sketch, or perhaps it is a study, is attempted.  Once your night eyes have adjusted over a hour or so (no don’t look at the Moon itself), it seems as bright as daylight.  Here the La Sal Mountains are in the distance, lurking beyond the far fins, and here in the foreground the pillars and fins of the Garden of Eden throw inky shadows across the uneven ground.  Perhaps it is called the Garden of Eden because it is a primordial landscape, and we will accept that explanation, even though it does not seem Edenic to me as I usually think of lush forest when thinking of that term.

The Drawing phase of the Painting,
with no Imprimatura.

The Block-in phase.
The last few days, without the Moon to interfere, it has been so interesting to watch the horizon, and see first the star Castor, and then its twin, Pollux, pop into view 28 minutes later, and each of them rising 4 minutes earlier every consecutive evening.  Another couple of weeks they will be rising in the twilight hours, but I will have moved on and won’t have the same horizon line to watch.  It is the “popping into view” at the expected time that I find fun … “pop” … and there it is Castor, and 28 minutes later, “pop” … Pollux!

And speaking of the wild, yesterday as I was working on this painting, a Wildcat strolled through my camp, not thirty feet away, nonchalantly, a true feline, not even looking at my vehicle.  No … I did not get a photograph.  By the time I downed the paintbox, got the camera out and quietly opened the door, all I saw of it was the top of its head or back occasionally above the sagebrush, with no full views before it disappeared a hundred yards away.  I was hoping for it to cross an open space so I could get a shot with my magic camera, but t’was not to be.  It was lynx-like, not a Bobcat, and about twice as large as the biggest house cat I have ever seen; a first for me!  My resident rabbit was munching away this morning, so she weathered the intrusion safely.  I wonder if the Wildcat had already studied my truck before strolling down through my camp?  I guess it was a Bobcat … just Googled up the info.

The Pigments used in the painting:

Imprimatura: none;

Drawing: W&N Ultramarine Deep;

Pigments: W&N Ultramarine Deep Blue;

Michael Harding: Prussian Blue;

Rublev: Ercolano Red, Purple Ochre, Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Ceruse, Lead White #2.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Geminids Meteor Shower … or is it Rain?

Monday, 30th October_Thursday, 14th December, 2017; Arches N.P., Utah.


C1648
“Last Light on the La Sals”
(from Arches National Park, Utah)
Oil on Pannelli Telati Panel
3½” x 9¼”



(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)


Views of the La Sal Mountains I see quite often upon my travels about this area, and this particular view, more than most and in different lights, as it is on my way to and from my camp.  This evening depicted here was one of the best, so I couldn’t let it pass.  At the bottom of this post you will note that the usual pigments I have been using recently are used here, with the addition of Ceruse, a soft unassuming Lead White, which mixes well without overpowering the pigments Rembrandt used Ceruse.  I find it interesting that this quiet evening used the same colours as the bright mid-day colours of the last posting.  No extra photographs posted this time as I need to get away from the library earlier today, so enjoy the painting.

So … stars and things astronomical … well, the Geminid Meteor Shower is one that I have always ignored, usually because I have been in cloudy Winter climes much of my past, but also because it’s usually just darn cold.  However this year I decided to spend a little time observing it on its peak night, which was last night, before turning in, since I have been experiencing pristine desert skies, at altitude, and I’m already dressed for the cold.  So of course the overcast rolled in just before Sundown, and even had a twenty minute shower of the wrong kind (rain!!!), AT BEDTIME, the same time I thought I would be watching a shower of METEORS!!!  I awoke at 5 AM to clear skies an while I was dressing (a long process lying in a prone position, and putting on layer after layer for cold protection, I did see nine Geminids, out my SUV window facing northeast, one very bright and long. I have seen several Geminids each of the preceding nights, but wished to compare those nights to the peak night.  Alas, t’was not to be.

It has been getting into the high 40’s Fahrenheit, for about 10 days now, with the night-time temperatures down into the teens, so I guess it’s Winter now.  I shall be moving slowly south soon, but I still have another painting I want to complete here, and then there is part of Canyonlands National Park to see before I leave the Moab area, so a few days yet … can’t believe I’ve been here as long as I have, but the landscape here is so interesting.  Also with these short Winter days, my daily painting time is so limited.  Still, as one of my Art masters used to say … press on.


The Pigments used in the painting are:

Imprimatura & Drawing: Rublev Ercolano Red;

Pigments: W&N Cerulean, Cobalt & Ultramarine Deep Blues, Cadmiums Yellow Pale & Orange;

Rublev: Ercolano Red, Purple Ochre, Orange Molybdate, Lead White #2, Ceruse.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Red Rocks and Starry Skies.

Monday, 30th October_Friday, 08th December, 2017; Arches N.P., Utah.

C1647
“Rocks Red … Foliage Green”
(Arches National Park, Utah)
Oil on Pannelli Telati Panel
5” x 7”



(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)


It’s all over down here in southern Utah … Red Rocks … ancient sedimentary rock.  That doesn’t mean there are not other colours present in this geological landscape, there are; yellow ochres, browns, tans and even greens, but red is the predominate colour one thinks about once darkness falls and the day is considered before sleep.  This makes for a very interesting landscape of contrasting colours, with the greens of the Junipers, Pinyon Pines, Sagebrush and other bushes complementing the earth red rocks; kind of like subdued Christmas colours everywhere.


The Wall of Elephants near Double Arch.

Double Arch.

The cliffs especially glow at sundown, almost on fire, and I have observed most clear evenings, about twenty to thirty minutes after the sun has set, the cliffs radiating a different sort of glow seemingly from within while the rest of the landscape and the sky are darkened with the dusk.  This glow seems to last about ten or so minutes.


The South Window.

Evening Glow at the Wall of Elephants.
And once the darkness descends, the Stars sparkle and the Milky Way shines in the night sky as diamond dust on deep blue velvet.  When We were younger, before the night skies were filled with the smoke and dust of the Industrial Revolution and before Edison’s light bulbs pushed back the glorious dark of the Night, We all had skies like these.  One of the interesting things about camping in the same spot for a period of time as I have been recently is observing the celestial mechanics of the night sky in action.  Even though I have known these things, having always been interested in Astronomy (Astronomy … not Astrology), to watch the same stars rise at the same point on the horizon night after night, but approximately four minutes earlier every night, is a lesson about the annual revolution of the Earth around the Sun.  Four minutes each night means that after fifteen days have passed, the same star is rising one hour earlier than it was, and thus multiply that hour by 24 hours, a year will have passed and the star will be rising at the same time that it did when you began your observations.  Of course you won’t be able to keep up your observations of any particular star when it rises during the day, but watching it rise a whole hour earlier after only fifteen days, and you begin to get the picture.  So there you are, then.

Fins.

Tunnel Arch glowing with the late afternoon Sun.

In the painting (at top) the butte in the distance is known as the Tower of Babel (no I don’t know why), and the pillar of rock in the center has no name that I have discovered.  The Pigments used in the painting are the usual ones I’ve been using recently in this Red Rock Country:

Imprimatura & Drawing: Rublev Ercolano Red;

Pigments: W&N Cerulean, Cobalt & Ultramarine Deep Blues, Cadmiums Yellow Pale & Orange;

Rublev: Ercolano Red, Purple Ochre, Orange Molybdate, Lead White #1.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Fin.

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

Monday, 30th October_06th December, 2017; Arches N.P., Utah.

C1646
“Fin”
(Arches National Park, Utah)
Oil on Centurian Oil Primed Linen Panel
5” x 7”


I was hiking the 7.2 mile long Dark Angel Primitive Trail, when I climbed onto the back of this sandstone Orca; or perhaps it was a Dolphin.  Arches National Park is full of these fins.  That is what makes this park what it is, for these are where the arches themselves are formed … all 2000 of them, by all accounts.

Dark Angel … the pillar of rock on the skyline.

Landscape Arch with Partition Arch on the upper right.

Partition Arch; this and Landscape Arch
are in the same fin.

Back in the Paleozoic times this area was a shallow sea almost surrounded by land, and went through many evaporation cycles building up layers of salt thousands of feet deep.  These were later covered by layers of sediments, and dunes turning to sandstones.  Salt is ductile at low temperatures, and as the layers of rock above exerted pressure, the salt began to migrate upwards forming salt walls 2000 feet thick in places.  As these walls approached the surface, they were leached out which caused the above layers to collapse into the spaces previously occupied by the salt walls.  Salt Valley, where I am currently encamped outside Arches National Park, is one of these collapsed areas.  As the collapse took place the layers of sandstone on the periphery were bent over and the rocks split into series of parallel fractures, which over the eons have been eroded into the ‘fins’ seen today.  And that is the geology of Arches in a nutshell.  There is more of course, and a geologist will no doubt explain it better, and no doubt quibble with my layman’s account, but hey!  I’m an Artist.

Fins on the homeward stretch of the Primitive Trail;
Book Cliffs, beyond I-70 are in the far distance.

East out of Arches NP.

Primitive Trail view of Landscape Arch.

‘Finscape’ near Tower Arch.
Delicate Arch, which I posted my painting of last time, is both an arch and the last remnants of a fin, which in my book makes it all the more interesting.  I did go on the Delicate Arch Trail again on Saturday the 2nd, and observed the Moonrise, as I intimated I would.  At this time of the year it rises much further north so there is not a chance of getting it in the same photo with the arch from the usual viewpoints, but it was still a fine view.  I made it back down the trail completely by Moonlight, even though I remembered to bring my headlamp this time … I wanted to see if I could do it … and so I did.

Two ‘pothole’ arches across the canyon from Delicate Arch …
they are within the niches in the canyon all.

At the rising of the Moon.

And not forgetting the Tech-heads ... the Pigments used in the painting were,

Imprimatura & Drawing: Rublev Ercolano Red;

Pigments: W&N Cerulean, Cobalt & Ultramarine Deep Blues, Cadmiums Yellow Pale & Orange;

Rublev: Ercolano Red, Purple Ochre, Lead White #1.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Arches National Park.

(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email.  As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest blog posting at the top of the post, and not the title of the painting itself; this will open up the actual blog itself, and you may then enjoy the paintings at their best.)

Monday, 30th October_30th November, 2017; Arches N.P., Utah.


C1645
“Late Afternoon at Delicate Arch”
(Arches National Park, Utah)
Oil on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
5” x 7”


Of course when I trekked in to Moab the day after Thanksgiving to make this posting, I found the library closed for the whole weekend, unlike my local Oregon library which would have been open.  And so almost a week later I finally have a chance to do so.  After barreling past the entrance to Arches National Park over several days, and gazing up in awe at the fa├žade of red rock cliffs up which the entrance road switchbacks high above the Moab Valley, I finally made my entry into the park, past the formation known as the Three Penguins, and up onto the rising plateau beyond.  I am not going to relate a blow by blow or sequential account of my extended time here at Arches, as there is too much to relate in that format.  I will say that I have been here so much longer than I expected, but it has been a most informative time as I have learned about and familiarized myself with this amazing geology hereabouts.  I am hoping that what I have been learning about the geology here will help those endeavors as I proceed through the red rock country of the Four Corners area.

I have walked almost all the major footpaths in the Park, even those that I originally thought I would do only sections of, and have done several more than once.  I haven’t been doing this the entire time I’ve been here, as there have been necessary maintenance and recovery days spent in camp on the Willow Springs Road, and outside the Park boundary near Klondike Bluffs.

Delicate Arch … to get down past the arch, to where the little people are,
is much steeper than it looks from this angle … it put me off.

Yep… steeper than you think, but the rock is grippy,
although I understand not o much in wet weather.
The hike to the viewpoint for my painting of Delicate Arch was a bit strenuous, as it is uphill most of the way.  It was a very windy day, and there were real fears of being blown off a ledge, but there were many others making the trek, so I pressed boldly onwards.  It was the evening of the last full Moon, and on a Friday night, when the Park is open 24/7 … there is road resurfacing going on so Arches as been closed after 7 PM except for Fridays and Saturdays … thus the crowds.  The Sunset was not the most spectacular, but since I was there I remained to see what it would do, but I had neglected to bring my headlamp, so did not await the rising of the Moon; perhaps the one in a couple of days.  There was enough afterglow, as well as moonlight, that I made it down the hill with no problems, but it might have been problematic if I had left it later.  The mountains in the distance in my painting are the La Sal Mountains.

Delicate Arch with the La Sals in the distance.

The Organ from Park Avenue.

Earlier in the day I had hiked up Park Avenue from the bottom end, and that direction is highly recommended as once you turn around to head back to your car, it is downhill all the way.  Park Avenue is the first major point of interest and footpath after you enter the Park, and is a canyon between tall walls of Entrada Sandstone upon a base of Dewey Bridge formation and capped in spots with lighter Moab formation sandstone; the canyon is floored with Navajo sandstone, which was laid down as sand dunes in times past.  Those interested in these rocks will no doubt go on line and find out more … I have a book of Utah geology.  Park Avenue is named for the vague resemblance to the artificial canyon of the same name in New York City.  I prefer this one, with its tall walls of red rock, balanced rocks and interesting side canyons.  There will be more on Arches next time.

The Navajo Sandstone forms the pavement here in Park Avenue, and the Entrada Sandstone form the steep walls on the upper left; below the Entrada, slanting down behind the tree top, is the rounded Dewey Bridge Formation, and the cap-rock on the Tower of Babel (right of center in the distance) is made up of the Moab Formation.

In Park Avenue.

A side canyon of Park Avenue.

A nook in Park Avenue.

The Pigments used in the painting were,

Imprimatura & Drawing: Rublev Ercolano Red;

Pigments: W&N Cerulean, Cobalt & Ultramarine Deep Blues, Cadmiums Yellow Pale & Orange;

Rublev: Ercolano Red, Purple Ochre, Lead White #1.