Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hovenweep #1 - Ancient Architecture series

tags:  original pastel painting - fine art - abstract landscape - southwestern landscape art - 9x12 

Hovenweep #1- Down to Earth
9x12 inches
pastel on black Strathmore

Despite the abundance of new Chaco references, I decided to move to the Hovenweep part of the series for a bit.  Located in the far eastern edge of Utah, just across the CO border, Hovenweep National Monument doesn't have the Great Houses found in Chaco or Mesa Verde.  They are instead small clusters of smaller dwellings that are usually situated on the edge of a smaller canyon or drainage, and some are several miles apart.  I have misplaced my information sheet on the specifics of the sites, but the inhabitants were Anasazi, and inhabited the area until about 1300 AD.  During our visit in early Dec, we spoke with one of the park rangers, who told us that Hovenweep was completely un-excavated and there are no plans in the future to do so - a trend I'm most pleased to see.

And, for this piece anyway, I decided to try something a bit different and utilize the black surface for part of the design.  The masonry of the Hovenweep ruins is a bit different than either Chaco or Mesa Verde, and I noted that it varied quite a bit even among the different structures.  They utilize some of the same features (T-shaped doors and windows, for example), but have their own unique style.  Many have rounded rooms, reminiscent of small castles.  In this particular ruin, the upper part is comprised of larger square sandstone bricks, with the lower part made of thinner slabs or sections of rock.  I felt the difference in texture and form was an important part of this particular structure, along with the distinctly lighter colored rock used in the areas shown.  

Due to the smaller size and scale of the ruins, the landscape figures much more prominently into the scene, as with Hovenweep #1.  I've titled it "Down to Earth" both for the palette - muted greens and earthy reds - as well as the connection with the land.  This is as close to local color as I've come yet, save for the sky.  It's hard to tell in this photo (taken with a flash), but the pastels utilized for the sky and rock are not the same.  

I may utilize this same technique for the other pieces I do in the Hovenweep parts of this series...we shall see!


  1. I think this technique works so well for these, since the texture reflects the subject matter. I also really like how you decided on your own sky color. I also like the bush; it reminds me of a Mary Silverwood bush for some reason.

  2. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Jala. This series has been good for me to break out of the conventional mindset traps regarding color. And, I'm getting a lot better at stripping out unnecessary detail. I am only familiar with Mary Silverwood's work through that PJ article, but I really appreciated that she also simplified her landscapes.


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