Thursday, April 29, 2010

Part 4 of Pahrump/Death Valley

When in Death Valley, a visit would not be complete without a visit to the Artist's Palette. This is a very interesting area back in the mountains in the park. You twist and turn on a one-way, narrow road which reveals stunning scenes around each turn. We saw one woman lying down on her belly to take a photo. Tom wondered what that was all about and I suggested that she wanted to take a photo of the foreground flower she was close to of the mountains beyond. We had stopped alongside the road past where she was and she stopped and remarked what a wonderful place this was as this was her first visit. We began talking and, as I suspected, she too was an artist. I told her I had suspected that when I saw her shooting a photo on her belly. She remarked, "ya gotta have a foreground for a painting!". I think there is a common vibe among artists, we seem to gravitate towards like souls.

Artist's Palette has a large vista where there is a collection of so many of the colorful minerals found in DV. It truly does resemble an artist's palette, with colors laid out, ready for painting. I did a 9-shot panorama for this photo.I hope you can view it large enough as I had to really lower the resolution for acceptance on the blog. Please click on the photo to view it in a larger format.

As we were leaving the park on our last day there, the clouds were building up heavily over the mountains, but we stopped where the sun was shining in a wash area to rock hound one more time before we left. The rocks in this area were different from the ones I tumble and polish from Arizona and New Mexico, there were more varieties of quartz there. As we had our eyes to the ground, looking for beauties, the storm quickly advanced to our wash and it started raining. Being natives of the desert, we recognize that standing in a wash with a storm coming is not very bright so we quit and decided it was a great place to have stopped and went back to our motorhome in Pahrump. It was a tiring/exciting/awesome day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Part 3 of Pahrump and Death Valley

I will attempt to get caught up with our latest Death Valley adventures. On our last day there, we traveled to the far northern reaches of the park to explore the Playa Racetrack. This is a dry lake bed that we saw a feature on The Discovery Channel a few years ago. It seems that the rocks fall from the surrounding mountains onto the edges of the lake bed and, from there, the mystery enters in. These rocks move, seemingly on their own, across the width of the lake bed. Here is a panorama of the lake bed itself and some of the surrounding mountains. This is the first time we have been in Death Valley and seen a cloud of any kind. Made for some very interesting photography. This pano does not show the tracks from the rock paths, those can be seen from my photos below. This was a fascinating phenomenon to see!

To get to this area, we had to use a rough, 4WD road that was interesting in itself. We arose to almost 5,000 feet and then back down to the lower elevation where the lake bed was. There were tons of yuccas and Joshua trees in some places, other places were barren desert and rocks.

Here are multiple rocks that worked their way across the lake bed. Interesting, huh?

This was the granddaddy of the rocks, it was the largest and had dug the deepest tracks. We followed the tracks of one rock that went all the way from one side to the other, only to have been removed by some thoughtless, no-class idiot (yes, it infuriates me!), which we found to be so disappointing.

This was a wonderful day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Part Two of Pahrump and DV

As we entered the boundaries of the park, we started seeing some almost florescent orange bushes. We thought it must be some strange desert bush that we didn't recognize. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be a parasitic plant that chokes out the life from the host plant. It had a strange beauty, but creepy too.

I don't know what the name of this wildflower was, but they were so beautiful when we found them. They called out to me to walk to where they were and take photos. Who says the desert is always lifeless and without color? Not me!

Pahrump,NV and Death Valley

We are back in Pahrump, NV again, planning on visiting Death Valley and exploring more areas we have missed in the past. We explored quite a bit of Death Valley yesterday, spending all day in the park.

We were told that this was the third largest wildflower bloom seasons on record there, and it was believable since we saw such colorful wildflowers that we have not seen there before. What a treat!

On our way back to Pahrump yesterday, I was driving behind this junk truck, which we both found to be so funny-looking. I asked Tom to take a photo as I hung back, afraid this tower of metal would topple back upon us. The driver finally waved us past when the coast was clear, but we decided it was a sight to see.

Many of the mountains/hills in DV are just a jumble of colorful layers. The geology of this place is amazing, and the colors change with the time of at sunset or sunrise...we have experienced both there in the past and it is a wonderful sight.

On the way to Pahrump, we passed along a highway called Joshua Tree Highway. The Joshua Trees here were so healthy-looking and we saw many of the blossoms they have in the Spring. I have never been up close and personal with these blossoms and took advantage of our timing to be here at the right time to stop and take some close-up photos. Aren't they interesting?

The mountains just keep showing diagonal planes in places, where it is easy to see the different types of rocks and minerals in each strata. Interesting.

This beauty was blooming in all its glory and I loved getting to see it. It is a Beaver Tail Cactus.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lake Pleasant

We took a two-night motorhome trip to Lake Pleasant, they have a very nice RV park there, as well as have developed the area into a county park which has enhanced the desert instead of destroying it. There are two large marinas and the lake itself is a large reservoir. We happened to visit when the wildflowers were at their peak. I may survive the allergy assaults, I haven't decided yet. At any rate, the desert was ablaze with yellows...brittle bush, desert marigolds, etc.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Giant Argentinian

This is a cactus that is in full bloom all around us in the neighborhoods of our community. I have wanted to paint this for awhile, but hadn't gotten quite the photo I wanted. Okay, the real reason is it looks hard! Well, I got a sprawling one photographed this week and will put my thinking cap on and decide how I want to paint this. I am thinking, so far, about a full sheet of Yupo! Yeah, that's what I'll do. Okay, now for the background....hmmmmm.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Elusive Ajo Lily!

We found the lilies! They actually do exist! And, are they ever glorious. The soil in this area was so very sandy, unlike the other areas we explored today and the lilies seemed to thrive in this one area. They, indeed, looked more like cultivated lilies than I anticipated considering the arid area in which they grew.

Here are a few words I found on the 'net about these lilies: Ajo lily (Hesperocallis undulata)

Common names: desert lily.

Bulb, Lily Family.

Blooms February-April in southwestern Arizona, southeastern California and northwestern Sonora, Mexico.

6-24 inches (15-60 cm) high with long, narrow, ruffle-edged, single leaves. The bulbs are 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) below the desert surface and only flower in a good spring.

Grows in sandy or pebbly flats. Fragrant flowers are pollinated by Hawkmoths. Tohono O'odham Indians eat the onion-flavored bulbs. Ajo means garlic in Spanish and the town, mountain range and valley are named after this flower. A good place to find them is Organ Pipe National Monument in southwestern Arizona.

A desert wash, with Courthouse Rock in the background. This was our destination for our lunch, after finding the lilies, we wound over 4-wheel drive trails for what seemed like an hour to reach the base of this rock. I was so hungry by then, but the scenery made up for it, this was a very pristine part of the desert.

Ajo Lily - Check out those blossoms and the almost prehistoric-looking leaves! This was a tall one; they came in all sizes height-wise, but no matter how short the main stems were, the blossoms were all the same wonderful size.

Two of the shorter lilies, bunched together. This was a wonderful experience to see these, and a tribute to Woodie's memory to be able to find them again after five years. We had a wonderful day that will be a lovely memory for a long time. What a wonderful way to celebrate the resurrection by being in God's cathedral!

Promised Desert Traipsing!

As promised yesterday, we did go traipsing about the desert, this time to the Harquahala Valley desert near Buckeye and Tonopah. We were joined by friends, Woodie and Margaret Mackie. Woodie had once found the elusive Ajo Lily in this are and we had as our goal finding these rare beauties. To be honest, I would not have put it past Woodie to make up a story about his finding these rare plants in the past, he's that kind of guy! But, it made a wonderful excuse for going to this area so I thought we would find what we would find and enjoy the day.

Here are some of the beauties we found in the Saddle Mountain area:

Brittle Bush - saw lots of these today!

alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5456666067687278610" />

Cholla blossoms - These were not shot as a macro! The cholla are famous for being buzz kills for the entire day as they "jump" onto skin and clothing and are very difficult to remove from either!

These white flowers are still a mystery. I need to drag out my field manual for wildflowers and identify them. Woodie was guessing there were in the phlox family, I don't know. Anyway, we didn't see a lot of these, they were mainly limited in area.

Note, I looked up these flowers in my wildflowers of the southwest field guide and think they most closely resemble a member of the phlox family...close enough for me to assume that is what they are! Woodie guessed that when we saw them, I now agree with him.

These Mexican poppies were glorious today. They were quite abundant where we were.

Here we caught Woodie, on the ground, trying for the perfect backlit poppies. I tried this technique myself, but found it too hard to get back up!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

I am wishing you and yours a very happy Easter, whether that be celebrating the resurrection or just the joy of an emerging Spring. Enjoy your times with family and friends this day.

We are traipsing out to the desert with friends for an Easter picnic and wildflower photography (hope there are many to photograph!). The weather is lovely today and I have been looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Desert View - WIP 3

My Thursday afternoon with the watercolor group didn't get me very far on this painting, I still feel as though I am working on the underpainting. There is a lot to be defined and/or changed before I will feel like it is evolving from the awkward teenage stage. I forgot how absorbent this Kilamanjaro paper is, it's like painting on a paper towel. Need to do a lot of pondering at this stage.

Featured Artist!

At the Sun City Grand Art Club, I was chosen to be the Featured Artist to display some of my Yupo paintings and explain a bit of the process. Just thought you'd like to see some past paintings hanging in their new places for two months!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Crystal Bowl Tutorial

I was asked by the online Watercolor Workshop Group to write a tutorial describing my method of lifting a crystal bowl shape out of the shadows, done in a monochrome. I wrote the tutorial and many artists in the group tried it, all with beautiful results! I have prepared a slideshow of their bowls, if you would like to see them all, just click here. Aren't they great?

If you would like to read the tutorial, please click here and download it. Feel free to give this a try, but I would very much like to see the results of any paintings created from my tutorial. So, feel free to try this and send your painting photo to me at