Painting in the Desert

One of the great joys in living in the Coachella Valley is the scope and scale of the desert flora against a background of the surrounding mountains. Through oil and watercolor, I hope to give a hint of the air and the light, the changeable nature of the weather and how fragile it feels. Bright colors often come from the strangest spots: violet or yellow flowers sprouting in the shifting sand, or a vivid red Volkswagen in an open garage of an ochre stuccoed house. Here are a few examples of me out and about in my new environment.

A salient feature of painting the desert is the way the light intensifies the colors. I have found my palette changing to match the wonderful greens and blues and purples I see around me. I am also exploring a range of ideas on how to present them, so stay tuned. With luck I can do it all justice! 

I went to a very beautiful scenic trail in Chauilla Hills Park at Palm Desert and saw the shadow on a downed tree limb form an elegant crescent in the dry earth, and that did it for me. The play of brilliant light and deep shadow inspired me to set up my easel.

When I don’t feel like packing up my paints, I take along a sketch book to capture potential motifs. Here I am at a desert garden called Sunnylands observing a group practicing tai chi on an open lawn.

The serenity of the desert is truly remarkable. The quiet, peaceful surroundings, geckos scampering underfoot, and flora rich and vibrant. Here I am painting at a trailhead with desert and mountains all around and a tapestry of cacti, palm trees and all manner of succulents and shrubs.

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