My first major rendition of West Texas was in 2019/20 when I painted a hexaptych (six-part work of art). There is an whole part of this website devoted to these paintings!
During the spring of 2020 – as Covid-19 raged across the world I struggled to find inspiration for painting. I found a photograph that I quickly snapped on the side of the road of the Chinati Mountains in August of 2019. The first rendition of the photograph: “Chinati Mountains Study #1 is a small, quick study done with oil pastel on sanded paper.
People that I showed it to remarked about the “banana!” didn’t see it when I was doing it….now I can’t unsee it!
I moved soon thereafter to the second in the series. This is IMPORTANT because I have NEVER, EVER painted a subject/landscape/whatever more than once. It was like one of the weird “rules” we have as artists/people; which make no sense at all….
For the next study, I tied the sky into the mountains more than in the first. I really studied the shadowing in the upper rocks; and wanted that to be the focal point. During this study I started to become obsessed with the sotol plants in the foreground…
Leading to the 4th study where the sotol plants are becoming the main focus of the landscape. The sky is becoming less important, with the emphasis on the skyline rocks.
By the time I painted this scene I was in the depths of Covid depression. I collaged a Sudoko book, that I had finished, to provide texture to the sky and mountains. Here the foreground – full of sotol plants that have run wild – becomes the focal point of the painting. Reflecting the truth that in the desert everything is out to get you . . . every plant, insect, animal, everything has thorns, or stingers or fangs or… But they do make an amazing “hooch” out of sotol plants now!
This is a sketch (December 2020) for my next Chinati Mountains Study #5! More to come!
#5 has been different for me to work on, because it’s being done at my studio/garage in Llano, Texas. This means that I only work on it for a day or so with anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks in between. I’m proud of this work! It took me over 3 months to finish; but the final result is so worth it!
The cool thing about #6 painting is my use of a very limited palette – I worked with a split complimentary color scheme only using Teal, Medium Violet, and Cadmium Orange (Golden Artist Colors); with the usual white and black. I did end up adding yellow ochre to the palette in order to make the sotol plants “pop” (but not too much) I did 99 percent of it at home (welcome to Covid-19 painting!)
Finally, I started on #7 today (3/5/21) in my studio! Here is a quick view of the very beginnings! Finishing up #6 is making me think of #8 will be focused on the sotol plants in the foreground…we’ll see!
Study #8 will concentrate on the sotol plants – which are taking shape in #7 – asking the mountains to take a step back from their role in previous paintings.