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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tracking Dinosaurs.

(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.)

Wednesday, the 25th_Sunday, the 29th October, 2017; Moab, Utah.

C1496
“First Night in the Desert … Venus Setting beneath a Desert Moon”
(near Recapture Pocket, Utah)
Oil on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
5” x 7”



My first night in the deserts of the Southwest was in October 2013, near Recapture Pocket, not far from Bluff, Utah.  I had come down from the Colorado Rockies, past a closed Mesa Verde (thanks to the damned government shut down that year), and wound up across the valley from Recapture Pocket.  It was a warm evening with a quarter Moon off to my left as I sat and watched Venus setting over the desert rocks to the southwest, and the next morning I began this painting … I dug it out and finished it the other day.


Somewhere in the Utah Desert.

Dinosaur Trackway.
However, to continue with this year’s trek, I arrived in Moab, Utah on Wednesday, October 24th, and met up with my old friend, the Dinosaur footprints expert, Dr. Martin Lockley, attended a talk by him at a local Paleontology group that evening, and helped out Martin, on excavating a Dinosaur footprints trackway over the next couple of days, along with volunteers from the Paleontology group.  Martin had a permit for the excavation of the trackway site and it was a most interesting couple of days.  Think about this, that as you are digging away the overlying soil, and then brushing it away off the rock layer below, that you are among the first human eyes ever to see these newly exposed tracks from the Jurassic times.  The trackways consisted mostly of Therapod tracks (3 toed carnivores), but a few were of plant eating Sauropods.  By the way … nice meeting the other volunteers: Diana, Barbara and the Mongolian lady, Ken, Mike, Albi and the Polish guy (apologies Mongolian lady and Polish guy, but I didn't learn how to spell your names ... if i had done so I would have remembered your names).






Continuing the theme of Dinosaurs, I highly recommend that if you visit Moab, to head north on Highway 191 for eleven miles to the junction of Highway 313, that goes to Island in the Sky (part of Canyon Lands National Park), where you will find Moab Giants.  Here at Moab Giants you will find an extremely well thought out Dinosaur trail of about a half a mile, displaying life-size & extremely life-like replicas of a myriad of Dinosaurs.  These are the best replicas I have ever seen, and there are a few that you can get right next to get an idea of how big those suckers really were!  If you are like me you will read every information board, and improve your mind … the family groups, however, seemed to move at the rate of young children dashing from one Dinosaur to the next, as the kids couldn’t wait to see what the next bend presented in the way of saurians.  Hopefully they will stop and read the signs on future visits when they are a bit older.  There is also an informative inside display or small museum, and a 3-D Prehistoric Aquarium, which is set up so that you think you are actually viewing an actual aquarium of ancient sea life … both of these are most worthwhile.  On the day I was there it was half price in celebration of the upcoming Halloween holiday, and families were all tricked out in their Halloween gear … my favorite was the Ghostbusters family complete with the “slime spirit,” that I met at the Tyrannosaurus Rex replicas … I managed not to be slimed(!); perhaps because I kindly took their group photos for them. Put it on your list folks … Moab Giants.

A few examples follow:

One of the excellent information boards ...

… and the replica dinosaur.

A close-up.






 


T. rex eating the Moon.

T. Rex with Ghost Busters.
After I said my goodbyes to Martin, as he headed back to Golden, CO, on the Sunday, I found a dispersed campsite on Willow Springs Road, and prepared for my visit to Arches National Park.  And that will be the subject of my next posting or two, since I am still in the area.

Pigments used in the painting were, Imprimatura: W&N Venetian Red;

Drawing: W&N Ultramarine Deep;

Pigments: W&N Ultramarine Deep, just touches of Cadmiums Yellow Pale, Orange & Red, Venetian Red & Cremnitz White;

Michael Harding Prussian Blue;

Rublev: Purple Ochre, Lead White #1.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Anisazi Cliff Dwellings and more at Mesa Verde.

(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.)

Saturday, October 21st_Wednesday, the 25th, 2017; Mesa Verde & on to Moab.

C1499
“East from Muley Point”
(near Mexican Hat, Utah)
Oil on Ampersand Panel
3” x 4”



Mesa Verde National Park is one of the most interesting of the National Parks, primarily since it is the only one of the Parks that was made a Park for its human landscape, rather than for its natural beauty, which it undoubtedly has, but not unique enough to set it apart.  It is also an Unesco World Heritage Site.  The archeology of the Park ranges from the excavated 1500 year old pit houses of the Basket Weaver culture, to the 700 year old stone architecture of the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings.  And Europeans say we don’t have anything old in this country!  And these marvelous ruins were constructed by the ancestors of the Native American Pueblo People of New Mexico and Arizona. 

The following photos are of Balcony House which I toured with a group guided by a Ranger.  Later there are a few more photos of Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace … I have limited it to these, although I took many more, but this should give you an idea of the wonders found at Mesa Verde.


The Knife Edge … believe it or not,
the access road to Mesa Verde once rounded the cliff
just below the Knife Edge, until the 1950s.

Balcony House within the landscape …
I went on the guided tour for this dwelling.

Closer view of Balcony House.

The impervious shale layer that allows the water that slowly percolates through the sandstone above to seep out of the cliff face.  This causes the above sandstone layer to flake away allowing the alcoves to be formed over centuries, within which the cliff dwellings were built, and also provided the seeps of water in the back of the recesses for the residents.

In the center of the photo is the old seep
for Balcony House.

The Balcony area after which Balcony House was named.

Original Wood.

Masonry.

Their mastery of their environment is put into perspective when you consider that at the height of their culture there were more people living in this Four Corners area than are living in the area today; and better than the average European of the time (and I’m talking of the average European, not the pampered elite in their castles).  It is astonishing to think that out of this dry and seemingly forbidding landscape, they were able to produce enough corn, beans and squash, to have 4 or 5 years worth of supplies in their store houses at any one time, so as to weather the drought years, that would invariably occur.  A corn, beans and squash diet is nutritious enough to live very well, and when you factor in the other wild foods available, such as berries, pine nuts, game animals etc., as well as the domesticated turkey, life was pretty good.


Balcony House.

For grinding corn and seeds.
Original painted plaster.



Finger and toe holds for climbing up the cliff …
evidently they did not fall off as often
as one would have expected.

However, it was probably a 50 year drought that caused the abandonment of the area in the end.  A fifty year drought is no easy thing to overcome.  But they had a good agricultural run for seven or eight hundred years, from the Basket Weavers and their pit houses, through the above ground Pueblos, and finally to the sophisticated stone constructions of the Cliff Dwellers of the twelve hundreds.  By 1300 AD, they had pretty much all moved on towards the southeast and southwest to modern day New Mexico and Arizona, where their descendants live today.  These ruins were never lost nor forgotten, and survived in the memories of their Pueblo Peoples descendants.  This is the second time I have been here; two days in 2013, and four days this time.


Spruce Tree House …

… which I toured 4 years ago …

… and now is closed due to a rock fall,
although they may be able to stabilize it,
I was informed.

The following are various views of Cliff Palace …

… the largest of the Cliff Dwellings.



All these plants were made use of by the Anisazi.

I camped about half of a mile off Hwy 141 north of Egnar just before the highway starts the long winding descent down Slick Rock Hill, in amongst the Junipers and Pinyon Pines on BLM land.  About 19:45 (timing not accurate), I spotted a bolide meteor, that flashed downwards at a slight angle from east to west through the teapot section of Sagittarius. It was a flickering descent ending in an orange red flash.  About ten minutes later I saw a trail paralleling the path of the bolide, reflected in the crescent moonlight.  I got out my binoculars and confirmed what I was seeing.  It was not unlike a jet contrail, but there were no others in the sky in that direction, even though there were planes passing through the night, and none were leaving trails.  The meteor’s train lasted another 10 or 15 minutes, gradually drifting towards the southeast.  This is the first time I have seen a meteor’s train, although I have been aware of the phenomena.  This is more of an ascetic observation than scientific as my timings and exact location against the background stars is approximate.  The orange red colour I have not seen in a meteor before.


Pigments used in the painting were, Imprimatura: W&N Venetian Red;

Drawing: W&N Cobalt Blue;

Pigments: W&N Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Venetian Red & Cremnitz White; 

Rublev: Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna.