20 March 2016

Islix Pinaleño

If you climb to a high elevation in the Southwest, besides the long unobstructed views, the flow of water over the landscape is pretty apparent. Arroyos (usually dry intermittent streams) fan out over the valleys like winding organic veins on their way downstream. This creates a beautiful fluvial fractalesque design. Multiple millennia of erosion. In this piece, I really wanted to express that texture.

Down here, mountains/mountain ranges are called "Sky Islands" (so... Islix). This is a section of the Pineleño range in southeast Arizona. Every biom from alpine to desert can be experienced hiking from top to bottom. They produce a lot of precipitation which races down into the valleys and that's when the infamous flash floods happen. Although, being the desert, they are usually dry and if you're hiking, you're most likely hiking in an arroyo.

Etching, 1987
It's funny that in my mid forties I'm doing work that most resembles work I did 27yrs ago in art school. I did a lot of etching back then, loved the black line, was fascinated with ruled lines, map markers and vaguely science-like notations. I've always liked that bird silhouette you find in bird identification books. I went through the flat files and found the last time I used that. Sometimes I wonder why I moved away from this work. I sold nearly every etching I made but thought that large scale abstracts were where it's at. Looking back, I can see how pure those etchings were. Truly my own. Well, it takes a long time to find yourself. The work I do now is truly my own.






21 January 2016

Calyptix - Node in the Genetic Desert Mesh

Hiking through the desert, the dull ring of silence may only be broken by the gravel crunching under your boots. Even if nothing seems to move you will undoubtedly encounter a hummingbird. You'll undoubtedly hear their high-pitched tweets.

In this piece I was thinking of a couple things. One, the bird's constant role as pollinator. Two, the maneuverability and miracle of it's hovering flight. Not to mention the iridescent ruby pink throat of Anna's Hummingbird. Wings flapping at twice the speed of any other bird with 360 degrees of vision  and energy enough to stay in flight for 50 minutes at a time. Imagine the invisible swirls of air currents churned up around it. The tiny squeaky chirp is the actual frame of the piece represented by the graphic sound waves you might find in an audio program.



01 November 2015

Gilax M - The Formidable Desert Dragon

11x17, inked with Crow Quill and digitally colored

The last few inks were landscapes and I wanted to zoom into some more close up subject matter. There isn't any creature more desert classic than the Gila Monster, so, it was decided. There's a lot of ways to abbreviate the round scales of the lizard and the lichen pocked rock beneath but I opted for visual complexity. I'm starting to think that visual complexity adds to the life of a piece. More for the brain to chew on. More for the brain to find and connect with. I've really pumped it up a notch with this one.

I was taken by the plotting of the scales on it's skin which arrange in a hexagonal pattern. Something out of a sci-fi artificial life-form design. So I started thinking about geometries and how it might relate with the landscape patrolling cell by cell through it's hive of rock, thus the hexagon matrix overlay. When you move so close to the ground, there must be some sense of direction more than searching the horizon. I overlaid a futuristic compass at it's side for easy reference. Caution barred warning triangle in the upper right noting the subjects dangerous bite. Truly the dragon of the desert.


17 September 2015

Mysterious Spiral Near Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

I've camped in this place many times. It's a beautiful desert north of Yuma, south of Quartzite, home of indigenous palms, bighorn sheep and antelope. You can pull off the road in the BLM land outside of the refuge and camp anywhere. The desert pavement is old and burnt. Wandering out of camp, everything seems ancient and untouched for hundreds of years. Ironwood trees are few and far between and the firewood you find is bleached white from seasons in the sun. It's a truly beautiful place.

I've been looking for subject matter for some new art pieces and started thinking 'maps', pulled up Google Earth and started poking around the Kofa area. The detail of the photo tiles are outstanding especially when looking at mountainous areas. Then I found this:


Latitude:  33°22'24.24"N     
Longitude: 114°10'25.87"W

It's about 90ft in diameter and 160ft from the road, so it might not be visible from the road. I know the dark desert pavement scrapes away easily to reveal lighter material underneath. It's so defined it's almost as if it's piled up material or even trenched.   The map photo was taken in 2013. Using Google Earth's history slider you can see the spiral wasn't there in 2010. A spirit walk? Land art? A celebration of 2012? I've combed the internet and found nothing. I'm going to go out there this winter to take a look.




Poking around, I also found this 20ft wide thingy not so far away:



Latitude:   33°22'7.53"N
Longitude: 114° 9'14.19"W













Update!



The very next day after posting this, friend and Wee Gallery artist Stu Jenks jumped in his truck and took the 4hr ride out to the location. He messenged me for a couple details on how to get there and voom! 4hrs later he was standing in front of a spiral "meant for meditation". It was what I thought, carefully raked desert pavement with a path of lighter colored sand. Mystery solved!!

Photo by Stu Jenks

01 September 2015

Classic Elements

This summer I pretty much used my vacation and weekends by preparing for a show with Mykl Wells, my favorite Tucson painter. I'm honored he considers me a peer. This is the second show that he's 'shared' with me, as he says "I just want to urge you to paint more," as he urges me to drink another beer.

I wanted to incorporate the figure somehow with developing druidic-sorcerer cyber-futurist themes. The elements seemed a nice safe place to start. The hand is my right hand and each piece is a suggestive sigil of power over that element. Then I realized I hadn't painted fire or close-up water before. Each took maybe four hours of experimentation until I hit the right brushes and techniques to make something believable.

Earth


Air

Fire

Water





10 August 2015

Cardónix

The Cardón, Mexican Giant Cardon, Elephant Cactus... you get the idea that it's a really big cactus. Similar to the Saguaro but with branching much like a tree. I spent time camping on the edge of a forest of Cardón spending periods of time hanging out in their shade or wandering among them along the shore of the Sea of Cortez in a place called Punto Cirio in Sonora Mexico.

Cardón as big as a house.
Considering it can take 75-100 years for a Saguaro to grow one arm, I marveled at the age and castle-like presence of these giants. When I came across this particular one, I spent a lot of time circling and photographing it. A quarter mile from the shoreline, I imagined what processes shape its' life. Sun, intermittent breezes and stormy gales from the sea, desert/sea birds living among it's branches and every night the Milky Way slowly spinning through the sky. That's what hooked me, this creature's sense of time as it moves through the seasons and it's distant relationship with the ageless cosmos every night. That is why there is a diagram of a section of the Milky Way superimposed on the background in my drawing.

Continuing with this series of cyber-natural-ancient-future landscapes, I may move on to close-up scale of objects. Either way, I love this process of ink and digital colorizations. I also love that I can share these prints at a very inexpensive price.


26 June 2015

Corvux Bigelow

Last year about this time, I was hiking around Mt. Bigelow. I was struck by how sound carries around up there, the radio towers and the primitive feel of the pines. My consciousness was altered in a way that I can't quite put my finger on. I spent most of the day circling around the peak hunting a composition and stopping for periods in the shade to get a feeling of place. There were workmen climbing the towers doing maintenance. You could hear their walkie talkies going off. A band of ravens perched near me and started speaking. Normal low squawks, bumpy chuckles and sometimes almost human noises.

This is an expansion of the therianthropy series of 5 paintings I did last year. The artwork is 16" x 32" in oil. I completed this in March but it took a while for me to go and get it scanned. My next paintings will be smaller, around 11"x17". I have a show in September with Mykl Wells at Michael Contreras Gallery, so I'll be busy this summer.


08 April 2015

Pinacatix Senita

The Pinacate region of Mexico is so unique in the Sonoran Desert I think I'll be doing a number of pieces from the region. Ancient volcanic lava flows created ridges and eddies in the landscape forming little walled gardens. Roaming through them is like being in the backyard of a master gardener.

I was struck by the strength and royal presence of the Senita cactus. It's interesting how the bottom of the stems crawl away from the center, laying on the ground and push up. Weird but it looks like it's very comfortable on the desert floor.

Following this ancient sci-fi aesthetic, I've used slow arcing arrows to mimic the sense of growing up and out, and the circulation of life force all around the cactus. I'm trying to be subtle with this commentary because the true focus is nature itself. This one was pretty fun!