Since moving to Mt Perry I have not done enough plein air sketching/outdoor scribbling. I used to do so much of it when I lived in the big city. Moving from reasonable sized city (1.5million) to small country town (250) with the bush at my doorstep, across my street, all over my horizon: I g o t l a z y. I went out when I had to gather new resource, rather than going regularly. So part of my time here is to get that groove back.
Yesterday, I schnaffled Dave’s car, drove it like I stole it (which was fitting) and headed back to the Sierra Vista trail, with backpack, new stool for sitting up out of the ants and rattlesnakes (actually not joking) and a goal to walk in about 1 mile to a spot we’d found the day before.
50m/y from the car this hill took my fancy.
I know, doesn’t that look bland? And when I looked at this photo later I thought ‘this is the thing about outdoor sketching’. The detail, the form, the clarity, that comes from sitting and looking and being there is just simply not possible from a snapshot, even with a good snapshot-maker. So, with yesterday’s rock rubbing, the sketch went something like this…
And then compositions seem to emerge, they make sense to me—and may not make sense to others—but I was excited. So I packed up my chair and moved further on… another 50m/y (you just know I’m not going to get another mile eh?)
The yucca flower heads were so extraordinary to me, with sunrise light pushing behind them, and the ocotillo leaves glowing in front. Amongst the scribbles below are the yucca flower heads and it feels like this could be an interesting painting back in the studio, and I start dreaming of buying a big canvas and a big brush!
And it seems so cliched to sketch the prickly pear, but the rock rubbings just leant themselves to the dimples and spines. We have a LOT of invasive prickly pear in Australia and it’s borderline ‘UnAustralian’ to draw them there, but here they are the habitat…
Eventually the heat and the sun chased me back to the car to launch into the first afternoon in the studio space where, for the first time in a long time, I broke out the watercolours. It was so fun.
Perhaps the joy was afterglow from sitting in the desert foothills below the mountains, alone, listening to birds, listening for rattles. And perhaps it was recalling the moment I returned to the car, put all my gear in the back, boots off, and walked to the front, climbed in with keys in hand and shut the door. And I was sitting in the passengers seat! Laughed so hard as I looked left to the steering wheel and vacant drivers seat. 🙂