Friday, February 26, 2010

Sycamore trees

I have been walking through the canyons and looking up at the trees against the sky. Sycamore trees have creamy pale bark that stands out against the sky, and I have been doing many small watercolor negative-space studies of them. Negative space is the sky-space between the branches that makes abstract shapes, looking at this when working helps get you away from what you "think" you know about a tree, very freeing.

Also, The Foot-in the Door show is up at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, this is a once every ten year show open to any Minnesota artist. I have a piece in it, not a painting but a jute piece. It should be a fun show and I look forward to seeing it when I return.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Harris's Hawk, Dragoons

First I have to make a correction about a previous post. The Rock indian head is Geronimo, not Cochise. Sorry! The top photo here is a Harris's Hawk that has landed ever so delicately on top of a saguaro and is keeping it's wings out to "test" the air. I was at the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson and I was fortunate to be there when they were doing a raptor demonstration. They let four Harris's Hawks fly; they are the only N. American accipiter that hunts cooperatively. It was an amazing thing to witness.
The second photo is of wild rock formations in the Dragoon Mountains where I went hiking last week. The hiking guide described them so: "The rock formations rise impressively as the trail climbs, resembling orderly stacks of tilted stone that were arranged by some forgotten giant."
Yesterday on my hike I saw a White-Nosed Coati in a tree - of course I did not have my camera!
"For the world is not to be narrowed till it will go into the understanding, but the understanding is to be expanded and opened till it can take in the image of the world."
- Francis Bacon

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Granite Gap, Peloncillos

The last couple of hikes have taken me to the Peloncillos (little baldies) and Granite Gap. This is a beautiful desert/mountain area with exotic rock formations. Desert Bighorn Sheep have been re-introduced here. I ran into the New Mexico Bighorn Sheep biologist who was radio tracking some sheep and he said he found four babies. I hiked all over hoping to spot them but never did. I did see a Ringtail though, a small cat-like creature with a huge ringed bushy tail. Makes it seem as if I am in another country!
"To inquire into the intricacies of a distant landscape, then, is to provoke thoughts about one's own interior landscape, and the familiar landscapes of memory. The land urges us to come around to an understanding of ourselves."
- Barry Lopez

Monday, February 8, 2010


After a brutal drive - freezing rain the second day and way too many consecutive hours sitting on my bum in the same position - I arrived to my little Arizona Cottage. Everyone asks me where I am, so: I am in the very southeast corner of AZ, in a tiny village called Portal, very close to Rodeo, NM, about 60 miles N. of Mexico. Because of the rough terrain, the sparse population, and the remoteness of the area, the illegal border traffic is becoming more of a problem. I spent three hours at a meeting last week with Border Patrol, local Police, politicians, and about 200 local people. I wanted to know more about the issue, living in Minnesota we are so removed from it.
The first photo is from a hike up to Silver Peak in the Chiricahuas. You don't see the head of Cochise on the way up, so on the descent is it quite a shock to look down and see this gigantic sculpture in front of you. The second photo is of a Javelina, or collared peccary. They are all over the village here, scavenging under bird feeders and such. Very cute!