Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Butler Wash pastels - ACEO

I can't get the Utah trip out of my head, so I am running off with it in color...

The Wash
2.5 x 3.5"
pastel on Strathmore

Tank Mesa

Road to Bluff

Sun-Kissed Cliffs

All from photos taken during the Butler Wash-Cedar Mesa trip.   Not shown in sequential order, but in order of my favorites, and also in the reverse order painted.  I'm pretty sure I'll revisit these in larger sizes and probably part of another series based on this trip...

I have many photos taken of hikes along side canyons and washes; I could do an entire series of them, and I have painted them a few times before in my Four Corners Roadtrip series:  Turning Point, Along the Wash, and Pathways are some examples.   This is a tributary to Butler Wash that we crossed on our way to the Procession Panel petroglyph (see previous post for photos).    

Tank Mesa is to the east along the Butler Wash road.  The cliffs, slopes and basin are quintessential southern Utah canyon country elements.  

Hwy 163 leading to Bluff, UT follows the San Juan river; the line of cottonwoods is a give-away that water is nearby.  A mesa on the distal side of the river casts shadows, and the pale sandstone lifts of Comb Ridge are seen in the distance.  


Photos from Monarch Cave ruins, our second hike in Butler Wash on Friday.  I was glad I brought the tripod along for this 3 mile RT hike:

The ruins in the alcove.  Look at those amazing patterns the desert varnish forms!  One of my favorite photos of the entire trip.  

Approaching the entrance

From the other side of the canyon

Broken metate (corn grinding stone), pottery sherds and corncob...all 700-1000 years old.  You won't see these lying around at Mesa Verde.  

Some of the many examples of rock art at Monarch Cave; these were about the same size as my hand.


  1. Very nice! They capture that quality of light I find so elusive.

  2. Fantastic miniatures. It's amazing how much information you get into them! The second photo down. How are those blocks still standing? Are they Styrofoam or something? Best regards!

  3. Impressive miniatures. You did the right thing by capturing these fresh in your mind. Can't wait to see some big ones.

    The alcove photo is a standout. So neat.

  4. Thanks, Dan - I find the light thing elusive as well, so I was pleased that I managed to get it in the first two...which is also what attracted me to them as subjects. I think the black surface is also key.

    William - thanks much. One thing I really like about these small studies is that they demonstrate just how little information you actually need to make something work, because there's only so much you can put in a canvas this size.

    Styrofoam blocks - ha! That's awesome. Looking at the structures close-up, it appears that the masons made judicious use of both mortar and wooden beams in their buildins. Plus, they are protected from the elements in that alcove.

  5. Hi Casey - crossposting here... Thank you. This could easily become a series on par with the Four Corners Roadtrip. I am excited to do bigger pieces; these little ones are good "testers".

    Glad you like the alcove photo, too; it's one I like enough to print and put on my wall.

  6. What beautiful little paintings. I enjoy them as they are.

  7. Hi Ruth - thanks so much for stopping in to comment - I appreciate it!

  8. These are some marvelous paintings! and of course photos too. Very cool.
    More later...things are crazy.

  9. Thanks, Jala! I know you would have really dug the stuff we saw on this trip. I can't wait to go back. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to catch up soon.

  10. Those are great Sonya, they make my heart ache. We are heading to Utah soon, though, to get my fix :)

  11. Thanks, Sarah...and of course, I know exactly what you mean. I can't wait for us to go back there; it's impossible to get enough of the Utah canyon country and all its hidden treasures.


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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