Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Prescott Arizona plein airs

Hi Everyone,
It's been too long since I posted some new paintings here. But I do have an excuse. For me it's the best kind of one, I've been traveling for the past few weeks. Painting on location is something I enjoy doing more than almost anything else in the world. The studies I'm posting here are from my trip to Prescott, Arizona. Recently, Ann and I have purchased a home in Prescott and will eventually be making our home there. We're pretty excited about living out west. Ann is a native Arizonan, while I.....am not. Hmmm. I've got lots to get used to there. I've always lived in a place where I'm at the top of the food chain. So, even though I'll be getting used to coexisting with the rattlesnakes, scorpions, coyotes, tarantulas and other assorted creepy crawly things that bite, scratch, or stick you, I'll be doing it amongst some of the most beautiful western landscape you can find anywhere. I am happy to tell you that I killed my first black widow spider and lived to tell the tale. Relax, she had moved into the garage and had laid lots of eggs. She broke the cardinal rule in my house, They can live there..... as long as I don't see them. If I do, they're fair game. All rules go out the window.

The week we recently spent there was full of pulling the most evil weed in the world. Of course I'm talking about the dreaded tumbleweed. The scourge of the desert. We've discovered there is no easy way to remove this weed from your property. Ya just gotta pull 'em, and keep pulling 'em. And then pull some more. But, I did get out and paint almost every day. One of the things I need to remember to do is spray BOTH arms with sunblock. I sprayed my right arm, but forgot to spray my left painting arm. I will never make this mistake again. Oops. Here's what that looked like
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here are some of the studies I produced that week


Williamson Valley, 10X20, oil on canvas panel

This is the view that overlooks the Williamson Valley and is the location of our new home.
Until very recently, the Williamson Valley, located in the shadow of Granite Mountain, was prime cattle grazing country. It's true that there are still plenty of cattle grazing in the area, though, admittedly, these days there are more homes and less live stock. You can still see lots of wildlife here though. Pronghorn antelope are abundant. Coyote can be heard yipping their lonely songs at night, and warily skulking across the roads by day. Horses are corralled in the valley alongside burrows and cattle. It's a wonderful place to visit and experience the wide open spaces of the West.


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Granite Outcrop, 9X12, oil/canvas panel

The paintings I did this week were to get me used to painting rock formations. The kind of formations I don't see much in Minnesota. I was going to be painting in Canyon de Chelly the following week with a group of incredibly talented painters, so I didn't want to show up and suck. This is how I prepared for the paintout. It was my homework. And I think it paid off when I went to the paintout at the Canyon.

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Desert Scrub, 12X12, oil/canvas panel


The desert has a completely different palette than I usually paint on location. Everything has a dusty, subtle color to it. The greens aren't quite as green. It's why, those of us who are crazy enough to paint on location, do it. Those differences just don't show up on film in quite the same way. You simply need to be there to see the difference.


The Granite Dells is a world unto itself. The granite rock formations there have a kind of melted ice cream look to them. There isn't a hard edge to be found on the stone formations. I've been told that Tom Mix used the Dells in many of his movies. I will be doing many paintings here.

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Corriente Creek Wash, 12X9, oil/canvas panel

This is a wash that is around the corner from the house. There was no water in the wash at this time, but I added a trickle to help with the composition and to have something that leads your eye into the scene.

Tomorrow I'll begin posting the paintings I produced at the Canyon de Chelly National Monument in the heart of the Navajo Reservation. Along with some of the photos of the paintout.

4 comments:

Diana said...

Ouch! It looks like it was worth it. The paintings are splendid.

Karen Hargett said...

How exciting for you and your family - congrats! OK I have to ask - how can you forget to put sunblock on one arm? Hope it is better now. Maybe you should do the opposite to even them out next time you are outside ;-) Your paintings are wonderful.

Steve Atkinson said...

Diana and Karen, thank you for your kind posts. I hope you get the chance to paint the mountain desert someday if you haven't yet.

As far as the arm goes, I know, I can't believe I forgot to spray it. All's I can figure is that, since I'm a lefty and sprayed my right arm first (then probably kept spraying my legs and neck and such), I just plain forgot. That's what I get for using the newfangled spray sunblock. I'd better stick to the good ol' rub in kind. I've never got burned using that!!

Happy painting, Steve

Maya said...

The paintings are great. You have manages to capture the real essence of nature. keep it up. as for the arm, looks like nature did her share of painting..LOL