Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Natural Bridges to Hovenweep.

Tuesday, 23rd January_Tuesday, 31st January, 2018; Valley of the Gods to Hovenweep, Utah.

“Come the long Shadows of Evening”
(Sleeping Ute Mtn., CO)
Oil Sketch on Centurian Oil Primed Panel
5” x 7”

In the above Oil Sketch, Sleeping Ute Mountain is seen from the west from my camp (see below) in Utah, while the mountain itself is in Colorado.

(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.)

Leaving Valley of the Gods and proceeding up the Moki Dugway, for the second time in a few days, I head out towards Muley Point, but a mile short I turn onto the track towards Cedar Point instead, and have lunch.  Afterwards I continue on towards Natural Bridges, but at Snow Flat Road I turn east for a couple miles to get a feel for the road to Moon House, a ruin I was told about by a couple back in Comb Ridge eight days before.  The dusting of snow of three days before in Valley of the Gods, was three or four inches up here, and when I came to a steep descent, decide I don’t like the thought of trying to get back up.  I turn around; perhaps another time. 

At Natural Bridges National Monument, I fill my water bottles at the closed visitors center, and then drive the loop, stopping at every layby and take photos as the opportunities present themselves, including the three Natural Bridges of the Monument, and the Bears Ears, not too far away.  Natural bridges are cut by running water, whereas arches are formed by frost and wind action.  I’m the only one in the campground that night.

Blanding is 34 miles away and I stop into the library, thinking I’ll accomplish all I need to that day, and get to Hovenweep by dark; not even.  I camp northwest of town for the next two nights and spend Thursday and Friday in the library.  I am foiled on Friday, as their Wi-Fi is not working and so am unable to post to my blog, but I do get a couple posts prepared and all set to go at the next opportunity.  I get away and head for Hovenweep, but with evening coming on I come across a good camp a couple hundred yards off the road on a clifftop overlooking the valley of Montezuma Creek, and with a great view of Sleeping Ute Mountain.  I remain here touching up a couple of paintings, and varnishing seven others on the Saturday, and block in a new painting of Sleeping Ute Mountain, on Sunday, finishing it on the Monday. 

Little Ruin Canyon, Hovenweep, Utah.

Tower Point with Sleeping Ute Mountain beyond.

On Tuesday, I finally make it to Hovenweep, only twenty some miles from my clifftop campsite of the past few days.  Hovenweep is divided into several units, which straddle the Utah Colorado border.   I visited here in October 2013, and walked the main unit, in Utah, and also the unit in Colorado which includes the Horseshoe and Hackberry ruins.  This time I visit them all.

Hovenweep Castle.

The Square Tower from the so called Castle.

Towers seem to be the popular architectural form taken by the Ancestral Puebloans in the Hovenweep area, northwest of Sleeping Ute Mountain.  Coming from the northwest through the canyon of Montezuma Creek, as I did, and then climbing out onto Cajon Mesa, which looks like a wide, rolling sagebrush plain, sloping up to the northeast, it is surprising when you come across the canyons cutting into this landscape.  It must have been even more surprising for the first Europeans to come across the ancient ruins within these canyons.

The View towards Twin Towers.

The Twin Towers.

The main unit of Hovenweep is in Utah, consisting of a series of buildings spaced out along the rim of, or within, Little Ruin Canyon.  A two mile circular walk takes you past these ruins, many of which are the remains of towers, two or more stories high, hard by the cliff edge, or in the canyon perched on large boulders.  One of my favorite is called Eroded Boulder House, but I call it the Hobbit House … it is built within a naturally eroded boulder that form natural walls on three sides, as near as I can make out, and the roof; constructed walls contain the remainder.  If your time is limited, this is the unit to see, and the visitor center (closed in Winter), and campground are here.  Water for your water bottles is found here all year around in the picnic area near the visitor’s center.  I took this circular walk on the Tuesday afternoon, as well as the Wednesday morning to get different lighting on the buildings.

The Eroded Boulder House,
but I think it is really the Hobbit House.

Twin Towers & the Hobbit House from the Canyon.

The Pigments used in the painting:

Imprimatura: W&N Venetian Red & Rublev Ercolano Red;

Drawing: W&N Cobalt Blue;

Pigments: W&N Cerulean, Cobalt and Ultramarine Deep Blues, Cadmium Orange, Venetian Red & Permanent Rose;

Rublev: Ercolano Red, Purple Ochre, Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Orange Molybdate & Lead White #2.

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