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.