Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fall in the Arizona Desert

The Arizona desert, with its brutal heat and unforgiving landscape, is unlike other places which are so often associated with what is ideal and beautiful in the outdoors.  In Arizona we live for the Fall and Winter seasons - we live for that relief that comes when the days are still warm and the nights are cool.  The few deciduous trees that line certain streams and valleys turn orange and red and drop their leaves.  Snakes and scorpions find somewhere to hide, and the great outdoors isn't quite the fearful place it is for so much of the hot part of the year.  And for the artist, it is a chance to be outside and truly experience the desert without the searing heat of the sun cutting short your plans.

The painting above is one of my recent favorites.  It is called "When the Desert Comes to Life" (It is a 24 x 30 inch oil on canvas, currently available at Cobalt Fine Arts in Tubac ).  This painting catches a very unique moment, usually in October, when we get a fall bloom of flowers in some of the lowlands in Catalina State Park.  They bloom below these magnificent stands of Giant Saguaros - giving a splash of color, and even a sense of the revival of vegetal life as winter approaches.  The fall blooms in Arizona are very distinct.  Not perhaps as striking as the spring blooms - but still very present - creating scenes of pictorial power and curiosity, as winter approaches.  I took the image this painting was made from on the Sutherland trail, only a few feet away from where I painted another one of my best paintings - that one titled "The Flowers of Fall."  Many of my works feature spring scenes and colorful hues - and thankfully, our fall blooms in Arizona also give an artist to explore these landscapes with the same contentment in his brush than that which he or she feels in April or May.

I have often said that when you are in the presence of Giant Saguaros, they feel like a plant that is almost anthropomorphic.   You can stand on a hillside of Saguaros and if you listen to the wind whipping through their needles and allow them to tower over you - you have the curious feeling that you are not alone.  Nature, through these towering cacti, looks down approvingly on these desert fields carpeted with flowers - rising up to greet the cool nights and the tepid air of winter.  These same plants and their ancestors would have towered over the Hohokam and the Apaches as they made their way through these harsh lands - and they too must have felt the power of these ancient plants.

Though I realize that the feeling may be only in my own mind - I doubt that this is so.  The feeling that every stroke, even one of an expressionist painting created in 2016, is connected to all those who felt strongly in the past - and who tried to represent their scenes with whatever methods they could.  Standing on Signal Hill outside Tucson with my older son, I made the connection between those ancient artists who carved petroglyphs into a barren, rocky hill protruding up from the desert - and people like me, pouring their souls into new works of art and new expressions with roots in the very same place.

I encourage everyone to do your part and support the arts in your community.  I will be a part of a Luminaria show next month in Tubac, and have works on display at Cobalt Fine Arts - which is a great place to visit during either the Fall Arts Festival in Tubac, the Luminaria show, or the Festival of the Arts in February.  Happy fall - I hope we can all hit the trails and get outside - for our health, for our sanity, and for our art...


Neil Myers show at Cobalt Fine Arts during the Luminaria nights

Tubac Festival of the Arts


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