Long Journey


​Since my last post, we’ve returned to Arizona. There are 2,000 miles of sky above horizon between Minnesota and here.  I love the way each region offers its own variations below the horizontal mid-line.  

Our first day offered big cumulus clouds above fields of deep green soybeans and yellow green corn topped with a blanket of golden tassels. It’s like a quilt made of corduroy and taffeta, changing color as you view it from different angles.  

These gave way to the flat expanses of wheat and grazing land.  


The road’s edge reaching to infinity, with a grain elevator way out at the diminishing point.  It slowly grows larger as miles slip by… then, whoosh, you pass and another one appears in the distance.   Beyond the elevators came wind turbines lined up in rows like giant corn plants left in our wake. Rolling hills of red earth yielded small oil wells bobbing like mechanical birds bobbing for a drink.  

And then one of my favorite landscapes comes as you head west from New Mexico into northern Arizona.  The red orange bluffs flank the highway like a fleet of huge locomotives moving into the desert.  Alongside the road, trains mimic their backdrop hauling box cars and shipping containers east and west. 

I tried painting this both in June and again when we came back west… It has been a journey in itself.  It seems I need to paint an idea at least three times before I begin to capture what I hope to portray. 

The first time I tried was while we were east bound…a pastel little postcard. 


My first attempt on our return trip was all about the sky.  I keep learning more about how watercolors moves or don’t. How they change as they dry.  I liked the idea of a BIG sky, as that is so much of the experience of this landscape. And there were wonderful colors and shapes.  A stretch that had feathery yellow bushes along side the highway.  But when I look at this one, it doesn’t seem to have a focal point or purpose.


So, Take Two was supposed to emphasize the hills-like-locomotives…yikes!  Horrible! Runaway train/school bus that appears to be standing stock-still!


The third and most recent one may be coming along with a little something from each of the two earlier ones.  Less “accurate”, more diverse colors, tilted perspective… Interesting or disconcerting?


​I look at it and think about whether weaving might provide an addition to the composition.  I think not. There is no clear place that it would work to strengthen rather than detract from what’s there.

In the end, the best I may glean from this week of painting is a cropped version of the first  – new proportions, a clearer focal point and another week of experimentation under my belt.  


I’m learning more with every attempt, even if I can’t see clear progress. I’m enjoying the process and in fact, look forward to what is sure to be a long journey.