Warm and Dry

Desert Elements
Desert Elements

I’m still into cobalt blue today after my success yesterday. Again it turned out to be the right color to provide the sky with that certain brilliant blue, especially against the chartreuse of the cactus I had in mind. I can never remember their name but they’re one of my favorites in Mexico. You see them everywhere around San Miguel, and in their maturity they grow to majestic tree size. And like trees, their limbs are strong and woody to support all that weight. Little birds of various sorts like to hop among their branches looking for food and, no doubt, protection. The skin of the cactus is smooth but better watch out for those needles! They’re serious business.

This scene is from a Christmas day walk that Dave and i took in 2004 on our first 6 month trip to San Miguel. We climbed a hill across the bypass from our house and went hiking through the valley and over the hilltop. At the top were a scattering of houses and a long sloping pasture that reached to a hidden canyon far to the south. The pasture was filled with a variety of cacti and mesquite along with long dry wind-blown grass swaying in the afternoon breeze. We watched a kite hover determinedly overhead looking for some rodent for its Christmas dinner. Once we reached the canyon we found an outcropping of rugged rocks with brilliant yellow-green and red lichen, and out of it grew nopales, the Mexican’s favorite vegetable, and my favorite cactus.

I’ve wanted for so long to paint this but have never quite figured out what to do with my photo references to do it justice. Today I decided that rather than trying to provide a literal depiction I needed instead to use the elements that I focused on, combining them in a way to show the feel and the effect of all those brilliant colors playing together. The colors are outrageous, but that’s the Mexico way.

Desert Elements

Watercolor on paper

5.5″ X 4.5″


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