Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Creosote Bush

One of my favorite ubiquitous desert plants is the creosote bush. Larrea tridentata is a long living bush, found in most of the deserts of the American southwest. We have lots and lots of creosote near our house. It rarely grows above 4 feet in height, although I have seen taller ones. They fight aggressively for water, which is how they survive the desert climates. Right now, many of them are in bloom. Once they are done blooming, fuzzy little red fruit turns into seed pods. These seed pods have a remarkable way of attaching themselves to fuzzy Pono dogs. I am planning to attempt to germinate some this fall. I tried last year, but failed because of poor planning.

After a rain fall, this bush has a strong scent, one which I have grown to love. Rain is such a rare and treasured thing, that I am always happy to smell wet creosote. This shrub is evergreen, although during times of extreme drought, it will drop many of its leaves. For more reading about this hardy desert shrub, click here.

The lizards are so abundant this year, but they have so far managed to elude my camera lens. Dang, but they are quick! I don't plan to give up, and hope to have some wonderful lizard shots soon. Until then, you will have to enjoy a lizard monotype.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Cactus in my yard

For over a week, I have been anticipating the blossoming of one of the cacti in my front yard. I would look out every morning, to see if the buds had opened yet. I was out of town last year when it bloomed, so the excitement was really getting to me. Yesterday morning, it finally happened!!! Bang! Three tremendously huge and glorious blooms appeared. I wish there was a way I could post the scent of them, in addition to the vision. The fragrance adds to their dramatic beauty. Everyone has asked me what kind of cactus this is. I did some internet research, and I am pretty sure that this is the Trichocereus grandiflorus. It is a member of the Echinopsis family of cactus, which is sometimes also referred to as Lobivia. They are native to Argentina. The website I found that talked about cultivating these cacti said to protect them from frost, which I find amusing, since last December this cactus had about 10 inches of snow on top of it. I don't think the snow hurt it any!!!

I spent most of the morning helping my friend, Nora Lousignont, hang her art exhibition at the 29 Palms Gallery. All twenty three of the paintings in her show are brand new - created just for this exhibit. It is a vibrant collection of portraits of family and friends, desert fauna and flora. Nora's art is deeply felt and expressive, and she has become one of my muses here in the high desert. She has been working hard, and I am so proud of her accomplishment. For those of you in the area, her opening is this Sunday, May 3rd from 12 to 3 pm. Please join us!

Instead of painting, this weekend I spent most of my time working in my yard. I am slowly turning the surrounding land into a colorful desert landscape. I love the raw desert so much, but when a new house is built and the land is disturbed, the native plants have trouble re-establishing themselves. My yard is mostly full of dry weeds and sand that blasts in the wind. I am trying to include native plants in my landscaping, but since I love colors and flowers, I am also adding blooming desert plants. Bit by bit, I am surrounding myself with things that inspire me, just like the cactus that bloomed so dramatically yesterday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring in the Desert

I have been without internet for several days, because our modem was bad. Of course, we didn't discover that was the problem until after I had spent TWO HOURS on the phone with tech support. UGH. I am relieved to have the internet back. I guess I am more addicted to it than I thought I was. I am not sure it is good to be so reliant on the internet. Maybe that was a wake up call for me, of sorts.

The walks in the morning with Mr. Pono the dog have been particularly enjoyable. Flowers are abundant, and the weather is gradually getting warmer. (although today is cooler and really windy.) The desert flowers leave me feeling almost intoxicated with their unexpected beauty and variety. But then, I have always been a sucker for flowers, especially wildflowers.

Yesterday, Pono and I saw a horned toad. I would have a photograph for you, except that Pono frightened it under a bush, and then it was too well camouflaged for a good photograph. Perhaps I will see another that I can photograph for you. They are so cool looking. If you want to see a photograph of one, you can visit an earlier post here.

We also saw some new blue flowers that I don't remember seeing last year. I am almost certain they are a delphinium of some kind. Either the Parry's Larkspur (Delphinium parryi) or the Nuttall's Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum). Regardless of the actual name of it, I thought it was beautiful, and was happy to have seen it.

I have been working on a new series of oil paintings, which I told you about weeks ago. I haven't mastered my process yet, but I did finish one small painting that I am happy with, so I decided to share it with you. Rather than painting abstract elements onto the canvas, I decided to collage objects to the canvas. So this painting is oil paint, cardboard, window screen and beads. It's called Amulet, and it measures 12 x 12 inches. Hopefully, I will have a few more finished by the end of the weekend. To view this painting, or any of the other photos in a larger version, simply right click on the image. You can open it in a new window for a closer view. (you will get a nice feeling for the textures in the painting if you do this.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tortoise Encounter

The blog has fallen by the wayside. On Easter Sunday, I got a call from my father. My grandmother (my mom's mother) had passed away. Grandma Betty was in her late 80's, and she had Alzheimer's Disease, so it wasn't a surprise. Still, I was sad, and of course I will miss my grandma. I spent the whole week last week getting ready for my talk on Friday, so that I could go to the funeral in Dinuba, CA. on Thursday. I have missed you, dear blog readers, and I am sorry for my long silence.

I was glad to go to the funeral and be with my family. Somehow, being with the family makes the grief more bearable, and it is nice to talk about memories of the person bereaved.

My talk on Friday went very well. I got to practice in front of my Mom and Dad the night before, in the hotel room. That helped enormously! I had given the talk to Pono the dog many times, but he usually fell asleep, and didn't offer any constructive criticism. So it was much better to have my parents for an audience, and they offered some really good advice. (At least I am now at the age where I value their opinion! It wasn't always that way.) There was a nice crowd of people who showed up for my talk, and even though my stomach was doing somersaults, once I started to talk about the artists, I was feeling better. People seemed to enjoy what I had to say, and I am glad I decided to be one of the speakers for this month-long art lecture series. For those of you in the area, Bruce Miller will be giving a talk next Friday about Lee Miller and Man Ray. The following week is my friend, Marjorie Franklin, talking about "Pixels in the Wind: The digital side of contemporary art".

My husband came home Saturday morning, and so today, Pono and I had company on our walk. It was a nice warm day, and we saw lots of my beloved desert flowers in addition to many lizards, one rattlesnake (which Matthias nearly stepped on!), and....
The tortoise!!!! Hurrah!!!

I have been wanting to see a tortoise since about 3 weeks ago when a friend of mine emailed me a photo of a tortoise she had seen with her sister, who was visiting. Then, another friend told me she and her husband had seen one, on a hike that I have been on many times. I was beginning to think I wasn't going to see one. I was so elated today when I saw this little beauty in the ditch next to the dirt road we were hiking on. I would have taken more photos, but I didn't want to frighten it back into its shell.

I will leave you with a photo of the Chia, which, as I remember from last year, is a member of the mint family. A lovely pom-pom of a flower.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Stomach Monster

I have just recovered from the stomach flu that attacked my father-in-law and husband's aunt. NOT FUN!!! I can't tell you how happy I was to wake up this morning and actually be hungry. The one good thing about stomach flu is that you do seem to recover pretty fast, as long as you are careful about what you eat when you first start to feel better. I am still a little weak, but at least I am back in blogland.

This will be a short post, as I have a lot of work to catch up on, having been knocked down for two days. Mostly, I need to begin preparing for a talk I am giving on "Women Artists Who Rock my World" on Friday, April 17th at 7 pm. It is sponsored by the arts organization here, The Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, which is also the organization that organizes the Art Tours every October here in the high desert. I will be giving my talk at the Copper Mountain College campus, in Room 119, if anyone reading this is in the area and wants to come. This will be my first shot at public speaking, at least to a large audience. I did talk about art all day, every day, when I had my gallery. Hopefully, that will help me not to feel so nervous about talking in front of a crowd. (Hopefully!)

My friend, Marjorie Franklin, who is a talented computer artist, will be talking about "Pixels in the Wind - The digital side of Contemporary Art" on Friday, May 1st as part of this same lecture series. She was going to speak this coming Friday, but her talk has postponed for various reasons. I am looking forward to her talk, since I don't really know that much about digital art.

This monotype will be listed on etsy later today.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pink, Yellow, Purple

Once again, I have lost track of time with my blogging efforts. All I have to do is go into my studio, and suddenly days have passed without my knowledge. It is a veritable time warp. I have also just waved good bye to some weekend visitors. My in-laws came by with Matthias' aunt Mia from Germany. It was not the visit we had hoped for, since yesterday, my father-in-law and aunt Mia came down with the stomach flu. Not fun. Fortunately, they seem to have recovered enough today to get in the car for the drive to Reno, NV.

In addition to the visit from my in-laws, I did have the fortune of seeing my husband for about 24 hours over the weekend. He came home Friday night. He is going to build an airplane, and he ordered a kit (lots of airplane pieces and parts). It had arrived, and even though I offered to go pick it up for him, I am glad he decided to come home to help me. We had to rent a trailer to pick it up, and the kit came in a huge crate measuring about 12 x 5 feet!!! We spent Saturday afternoon unloading the crate so that I could return the trailer on Sunday morning. Matthias had to leave Saturday night, in the middle of the night. I woke up Sunday morning, wondering if he had really been here, it passed by so quickly. I got to inventory the pieces and parts (almost 20 pages worth) on Sunday. So much fun!!! I have photos of the unloading, but that will have to wait.

I wanted to share more desert flower photos with you!!! The desert dandelion are really starting to cover great expanses of the desert. Buttery yellow and ubiquitous, they delight me to no end. I suppose many would consider these weeds, but when I find them in my yard, I don't pull them out. Just because they are called "dandelion" doesn't mean they are a bad flower. (In my opinion, there is just no such thing as a BAD flower

On the walk with Pono this morning, I was overjoyed to see that the paper bag bush is also beginning to bloom! They are so fragrant. Love, love, love. LOVE!!!

Near our house, in the empty lot - the beavertail is also in full swing.

Heaven is the desert in spring.