Friday, April 18, 2008

Painting childhood icons

9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
This is an unfinished piece. I was totally surprised by the stark whiteness of the blossoms on the cactus. They don't look like this in real life. I will have to take another look at them. There are several things I still need to so. The sage and tumbleweeds need to be worked further. These are the low growing bushes in the desert. The line of distant cactus is much too repetitive. I need to vary the heights. I want to put some detail in the yellow wildflowers in the foreground. I also need to work on the middle hills. The value is much to dark in relationship to the front hills.
That all being said, this is the desert I grew up in. The poppy fields came once a year. This was a constant. We had a prized Joshua tree in our back yard. That is the cactus that is the focus of this painting. I thought I was growing up in the most beautiful place in the world. I was surrounded by Joshua trees, tumbleweeds, sage, and all manner of incredible desert flora and fauna. I made pets of Horned Toads and Trap Door Spiders. I wasn't so fond of the rattle snakes, but I was never bitten. We had a desert tortoise who resided in our back yard. His name was Bradshaw. Each morning, he made his slow way from his den under the Joshua tree across the concrete surrounding our pool to the patch of grass on the other end. He really did not vary his path. If you were laying out in the sun after a dip in the pool, and you were in his path, he would climb over you. I am always amazed when people don't see the beauty in the desert that I do.
On a completely different note, I received a sample of pan pastels earlier this week. I got some tools and one color, a pale blue. I used the blue in the lower part of the sky for this and yesterday's painting. I liked the way it went on using the wedge sponge tool. However, it reinforced my love of pastel sticks. I love the feeling of only having the stick between my fingers and the paper to create my paintings. I have read about so many people loving the new pan pastels, but I am not a convert. I will be sticking with the sticks.


Julie said...

I'd love to see a Joshua tree in real life - and like the mountains in the rear of the picture.

We visited the Pencil museum in Keswick on holiday - home of Lakeland/ Cumberland pencils and pastels - fascinating place to visit, and I picked up a box of basic artists sticks. Huge range of types and colours, plus papers etc. I think you would have enjoyed it.

Willa said...

I am so glad you are painting this place that is so dear to you...