Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dragoon Mtns west - photoseries

Two weeks ago, I went on a nearly all-day trip to the nearby Dragoon Mtns with fellow artist and WetCanvas'er Drusilla, who lives on a ranch in the area.  Not knowing much about the local sites, she offered to take us out to the western side of the Dragoon Mtns.   A week prior, I had been to the eastern side of the same mountains with another local artist; some of those photos were featured in my recent blog post on winter skies and odd cloud formations.

Anyway, on the day we went, it was a beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in the sky.  Access to the Dragoons is via a road that lies just north of Tombstone.   Dru gave me lots of background about the local history of the Dragoons, including pointing out the location of Council Rock, where the Apache Cochise signed a treaty with the whites over a century ago, and she showed me the remains of a very old adobe fort, probably built around the late 1800's.  I did get some photos of that, along with many of the mountains, which are primarily composed of pink granite that has eroded and crumbled into a variety of shapes from massive boulders to balanced spires and occasional whimsical shapes.  We hiked a bit up the trail that traverses the mountain saddle from west to east, which I definitely plan to come back to in the future. 

Below are some select photos to show the rugged beauty of the mountains and surrounding area.  The rest may be seen in this new Picasa gallery.  The vegetation in the area is part Chihuahuan desert scrub at the base and part Pinon-Juniper woodlands in the mountains.   Some people think that the desert doesn't have four seasons, but it most certainly does.   They are subtle and perhaps not appreciated or seen by those who are used to the "in your face" season changes in the midwest or east coast.   Some of these photos do capture the essence and delicate beauty of the "winter desert"; others highlight the sculptural forms or minute detail in nature that I have an affinity for. 

Granite hill crest
A spent agave flower stalk adds a sense of space to the scrub oak hillside and large protrusions of granite
Lone Oak
A scrub oak sits atop a small hill near a large outcropping of rock
Afternoon shadow play
Shadows cast by the canes of an ocotillo - a native desert shrub - fall on the adjacent rocks, forming an interesting pattern.
Tree form with rock
This dead or dormant tree, nestled within the surrounding rocks, creates a dramatic contrast against the bright afternoon sky.  Manzanita, ocotillo and dried grasses add to the botanical diversity

Lichen in Detail
This chartreuse species of lichen forms distinctive colorful patches on the Dragoon rocks
Catching the Sun
The afternoon sun lights up the tips of these grasses, producing a sharp contrast against the distal field, trees and mountains.

Winter Afternoon
The late afternoon light warms the face of the Dragoons, while a large yucca casts a long shadow in the foreground.
High Desert Shadows
The late afternoon light showcases the folds and contours of these hills adjacent to the Dragoons, while the winter grasses break up some of the foreground shadows.
Yucca Pair
These yucca plants, characteristic flora of the Chihuahuan Desert Scrub, appear to float in a sea of dried grass.
Sunset from the Dragoons
The Huachuca Mtns form the distant horizon for this picturesque sunset

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Evening Clouds over Mule Mtns.

Wow - I didn't realize that 9 days had passed since my last blog post; time has been getting away from me!  I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday weekend, and is staying warm in the parts of the country getting heavy snows and winter weather.  On Christmas day, I went on a hike up in the Mule Mountains, which are the small range that Bisbee is situated in, and took some photos that I will be posting in a future blog.   The evening sky and the Mules were the subject for my latest pastel painting, completed almost a week ago. 

I have a fascination and affection for roads, trails and paths, probably because of my love of road trips, exploration and wondering what lies around the corner.  I will definitely do a series of paintings at some point, as I am continually inspired by even my simple drives around this region. 

This painting was based on a photo I took during my first photo series taken after I got here.  I made compositional adjustments from the original photo, eliminating some elements and detail, and shifting the clouds so more emphasis was on them.  I generally try to avoid too much blending with my pastel paintings; I prefer to work with color layers to achieve the effect or color I'm looking for.

After taking the photo, I discovered areas that I will end up reworking slightly, such as the holes in the clouds and the dashed highway divider lines, but overall, I was pleased with how this turned out. 

"Evening Clouds over Mule Mtns"
pastel on 320-grit garnet sandpaper.  9x11

Friday, December 18, 2009

Interiors of a Hotel - photo series

Inspiration comes to us in many forms and sometimes from unexpected sources.  For myself, it's most frequently in the form of the landscape, open spaces,  intriguing or beautiful things in nature, such as flowers, rather than the interiors of buildings.  In general, my expectation when I walk into a building is pretty low, and is of a functional rather than aesthetic nature:  to purchase items, receive services, perform work, or call a living space.

In my first blog post after arriving in Bisbee, I mentioned that I have a part-time innkeeping job at the Letson Loft Hotel.  It is classified as a "boutique hotel" - a place that places a high emphasis on the experience of staying at the hotel, vs. "just a place to stay for the night".   When you enter the Letson, you immediately know that it is a special place - the original building is 130 years old, but has been impeccably remodeled and decorated by the current owners, while maintaining its old Victorian-styled charm.  It has 8 rooms - all different, and all beautiful, that are outfitted in premium-quality linens and lovely furniture.  My duties as an innkeeper include showing guests around the property, and of course, the features of their particular room.  Guests love staying here, and I did not have to work here very long to see why. 

One day, when the rooms were open and I had a few spare moments between my duties here, I brought my camera and tripod along and decided to capture what I felt were some of the unique features of several of the rooms.  Below is a select group of photos that I feel helps to show the essence of what the Letson Loft is about:  interiors that celebrate the marriage of physical comfort with aesthetics, and provide an inviting and memorable experience for guests...and a most unexpected source of inspiration for me!

Reading Light
Like to read in bed?  This bedside lamp, plush down pillows and luxurious linens in room 4 invite you to curl up and enjoy a good book after a day out on the town.

Light from Above
Late morning sun from a skylight brightens this section of an antique-styled sitting couch in room 5.

A Pair of Hearts
This ornate headboard and piles of pillows on this king-sized bed in room 5 entice you spend the day in bed without guilt.  It is perfect for a romantic getaway weekend.

Sit and Reflect
This comfy couch, torchier lamp and beautiful mirror are just part of the furnishings in the seperate sitting area of room 7.

The kitchenette in room 8 is perfect for guests who enjoy cooking wherever they travel.

Crimson Paisley Pillow
This chair, and its fancy pillow and matching curtin, are also found in room 8

It's All in the Details
The beautiful finish and hardware detail on this vintage-styled cabinet in room 8, is where the flat screen TV sits.

Light and Shadows
Light from the north-facing bay window falls on this wooden headboard, found in room 1, allowing its intricate carved detail to be fully appreciated.

A Room With a View
A bay window in room 2 overlooks Main St. (along with rooms 1, 3 and 4), allowing a northerly view of the shops, hillside, and sky.  For the sake of this photo, I purposly metered for the interior here to provide a silhouette and to keep the outside view from competing with the interior.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter Skies - AZ-style

At the moment, I'm sitting in an outdoor cafe, enjoying picture-perfect weather in the mid-60's, sunny with bright blue skies.  It just doesn't get any better than this in mid-December (at least for me!).  However, less than a week ago, we had a winter storm blow through that produced some very unique cloud formations.  I had made plans to go on a photoshoot with a local artist I recently met, and since it wasn't raining, we proceeded with that plan.  On the way to his house, I stopped and took some photos along the side of the road.  Our trip took us out to the east side of the Dragoon Mtns, location of Cochise Stronghold, and due west of the Chiricauha National Monument.  Photos I shot in the mountains were unremarkable due to the poor lighting, but the area itself is worthy of revisit in better weather and in morning sun. 

Here are some of the photos taken from this past Sunday.  It was a windy, cold day, which is what resulted in these unique cloud formations.  I suspect they are variations of lenticular clouds - the "flying saucer" type that is frequently seen capping mountains.  I've never seen anything quite like them before; I hope you enjoy them.  I often take photos for the purpose of using them as a reference for future paintings.  However, there are times when something is best left as a photo due its odd features that would not translate to a believable (or aesthetically pleasing) painting.  These photos are examples of that. 

Scalloped Cloud Set
These clouds, seen off of Double Adobe Rd, are to the southwest, and are over Mexico.

Calling the Mothership
This shot, taken at 55mm zoom, shows the detail of this large cloud that hovers above the Mule Mtns. that surround Bisbee

Approaching from the North
These light-colored cloud stacks are seen in a northeastern direction off of Double Adobe Rd.

Cloud line from Cochise Stronghold
This tiered set of clouds gives a sense of depth of the sky when viewed from the eastern slope of the Dragoon Mtns.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A View from The Jonquil - a photo essay

I have been far too lax getting on and posting to my blog.  Work is keeping me busy and I've just been getting used to everything here.  Yesterday, during my afternoon break, I decided to go out and take photos from around the place I share with my sister - the Jonquil Motel.  It is up the road from the main downtown section of Bisbee, along Tombstone Canyon Rd.  All photos were taken on the property from various perspectives. 
Agave Base of Operations
This agave plant, a type of succulant, is located at the top of a block wall in the courtyard area behind the motel.

Nature Loves Euclid - the Proof is in the Plant
Remember your geometry?  This spent yucca stalk has got it all:  parallel and converging lines, points defining space, and lots of triangles:  isocoles, equilateral and scalene.  Alternatively, it could resemble an Anasazi petroglyph figure.  It reaches skyward on the slope behind the motel.

Cactus Fruit Chorus Line
The fruit of this very large prickly pear cactus continue to ripen through the winter.  Cactus is located in the courtyard along the edge of a wall that forms a canal for the creek that runs through town.

House on the Hillside
I have a fascination with old, abandoned man-made structures, and Bisbee is full of them.  This one resides on the hillside behind the motel.  View is northwest.

A Passel of Pods
This cluster of dried silk-tree seedpods is found on a tree in the courtyard of the model.  The brisk afternoon breeze caused them to sound like a baby's rattle.

Afternoon Sky
These lacy high-altitude cirrus clouds dance in the sky, while the hillside provides some year-around green in the form of scrub oak...a most refreshing change from the "all or nothing" green  in CT.  View is looking northeast from the motel courtyard.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...