Wednesday, March 22, 2017


On March 5, 2017, I made the 8-hour drive to Big Bend National Park, and spent the next week painting with a group of about 40 people from the Outdoor Painters Society. This was my 2nd trip to the park. The first time was February, 2012(!) It was nice to get reacquainted with old friends, and make new ones. Springtime is probably the best time to be there, because there are blooming plants and wildflowers, and it's not too hot yet. I stayed in the town of Terlingua, just outside the park. On the day I arrived, I drove up one of the local roads and found a nice spot to set up. It was getting late, and I knew I would have to work quickly before the sun went down. I painted for about 15  minutes before I lost the light, so I was never able to hit the really bright highlights and define the rocks. I figured I'd come back to complete the painting the next day, but couldn't find the location again, no matter how many times I drove through the area. Good thing I took some photos to go along with the study I painted... 
Somewhere in Terlingua, Texas

Start of an evening's painting in Terlingua, Texas, 9x12" oil
The next morning I drove into the park. When you get there early enough, you see all sorts of wildlife. Mostly jackrabbits, but sometimes you see folks like this guy at the edge of the road. One of the painters in my group saw a cougar cub (it still had its spots) and told the rangers about the sighting. He said they seemed surprised to hear about the cub.
Wile E. Coyote proves he's not drunk
I painted at Santa Elena Canyon twice. The first time was on an 11 x 14" piece of canvas, which gave me a painting surface of about 10.5 x 13.5" after I taped it to my board in the way I learned from New Zealand painter John Crump. Santa Elena Canyon is a spot you want to paint in the morning. I got there about 7:30 AM.
Santa Elena Canyon # 1, Early Morning 10.5 x 13.5" oil
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend Natl Park

The second time I painted there was toward the end of the week, and I thought I'd use a piece of synthetic canvas that was left over from the end of a roll. The dimensions made it very appropriate for a landscape painting. 
Santa Elena Canyon #2, Early Morning 10 x 20" oil
 When I finished, I turned my easel around and painted the opposite direction.
Near Santa Elena Canyon, Late Morning 8.75 x 11.75" oil

The road to the Chisos Basin is pretty scenic, and I went up there a few times to paint.
The Road to the Chisos Basin, Afternoon 10.25 x 13" oil
The coolest thing about doing this painting was when I was finished. I looked up to find a young buck mule deer staring at me from about 10 feet away. He let me go to my car to get my camera so I could take some pictures of him, while he calmly munched on some greenery. After a while he wandered off, followed by his gal pal.

Another painting I did along the same road.
The Road to Chisos Basin, Morning 8.5 x 9" oil
A visitor to the park asked to take my photo as I was getting started. I let him, provided he took one with my camera.

Finally, some more of the pictures I took around the park. The first one was taken on my iphone, and the others were taken on my Canon.