Revisiting the Southwest

Can a painting evoke a place, a memory, a moment in time? On a cold winter’s day, this piece certainly gave me a chance to revisit a trip to the Southwest that my family took a few years ago. During a long day hike at Arches National Park, we were surrounded by towering sandstone walls and incredible rock formations. After the first two miles, the crowds thinned and the trail became primitive, with steep climbs and descents. At times, we were alone in that wild expanse of sandstone and sky. A rare gift. Of course, it’s cold at Arches at this time of year, too. But I can still envision it just as it was on that warm, memorable day.

Tips and Techniques– Using a grid is a great way to capture a sense of place. I typically grid my paper in pencil before heading out on a hike or travels to a new place. Then I fill in the squares as I go, combining boxes to suit the shape of my subjects. The grid provides a useful structure that holds the smaller sketches together. Find more grid pages here and here.

HEADS UP! Registration for Arts & Birding at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, July 10-15, 2022 opens February 1. This program often fills quickly so take a look and register soon if you are interested.

8 Comments on “Revisiting the Southwest

  1. This work tells the story of your hike so well. I will give your grid technique a try. I’ve been wanting to, for some time, but couldn’t figure out how to get started. Drawing the grid ahead of time will help overcome the “blank page” syndrome that afflicts me regularly.

    • Yes– set up the grid before you head out. It will give you a structure for the page and you can fill in as much or as little as you get to on your journey. Sometimes, I do a grid that I fill in over the course of a month, rather than a single hike.

  2. I like the addition of the color swatches, they’re evocative. One of the very few times I have sketched outdoors – in fact, began a watercolor – was in southern Utah. It was a red rock scene. It’s such a good memory, sitting in the shade of a big sage bush with my watercolors. And guess what! We just decided yesterday to explore southern Utah in early April. This couldn’t be more timely. 🙂

    • Oh– Fantastic plan and great time of year to visit Utah. Pull out that sketch and pick your camera equipment. So many amazing colors and scenes to capture. I can just picture red rocks on blue sky or tracks in the sand through your lens.

  3. Hello, I’m a beginner nature journaler and sketcher and enjoyed your short tutorial Dec ’20 through the Winslow Art Ctr. I look forward to meeting you in person because I’ve signed up to be a FOHI volunteer on Hog Island during the Arts & Birding Week. I’ll be primarily working but hope to glimpse what you & the students are working on.

    • That’s terrific Dorothea! The volunteers work hard and have fun and we welcome them to participate when possible. Do bring your sketchbook and art supplies so that you can sketch on your own when you have some free time. I volunteered several years ago and I am fond of the sketches I did that week, including illustrations of food and kitchen chores! I look forward to meeting you!

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