"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Desert inspiration

"Desert Mysteries," 9 x 12 acrylic on canvas panel

“The desert wears… a veil of mystery. Motionless and silent it evokes in us an elusive hint of something unknown, unknowable, about to be revealed. Since the desert does not act, it seems to be waiting — but waiting for what?”

--Ed Abbey

When you grow up in the southwest, a high arid land, the desert, the light, the colors, the wide open spaces, the varied landscapes all become a part of you.

The land of visible time, of rugged geology beckons the mysteries, the stories of creations and creatures, triggering the imagination, the questions, the inspirations.

So it is with me  when I view the prominent volcanic neck, Cabezon, jutting from the land in northwest New Mexico in the usually dry Rio Puerco valley. Spanish for "pig's head," it can only be reached on unpaved roads, though you can see it from many miles away frommany directions. 

Near its base is the decaying adobe ghost town of the same name.I've been there once, long ago, getting almost lost on sandy roads trying to get to Chaco Canyon.

I've tried several times to paint it, without satisfaction; years ago my Dad did an oil of the dusty ghost down that is long lost, but lives in my memory.

It draws me like a magnet still, and I keep a folder of photos on the computer, and scan the subject often. This week I found one I hadn't seem before, and it inspired this week's painting, in my desert series. Credit:  Look Visions in fineartamerica.com. 

I wanted to emphasize the dramatic sale and the mystery and mood. I probably prefer their purplish view, but mine shows the dusty almost sunset view, typical of the arid land. It towers more than 1,000 feet from its base to the top at 7,786 feet, the stark skeleton of a large volcanic field that erupted,  along with Mt. Taylor, more than 1.5 million years ago.

“What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.” --Ed Abbey

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