Painting the Four Elements 3: Earth

Victor HIggins, Mountain Forms #2, ca. 1925-1927 - oil on canvas (Smithsonian)

Victor HIggins, Mountain Forms #2, ca. 1925-1927 – oil on canvas (Smithsonian)

Living in the American Southwest, my thoughts of  the theme of painting earth means painting mountains.

As a young child, I would sit on the front porch step and stare at the mountain range barely visible over the rooftops of our neighborhood just outside of Denver. Every trip to the mountains for picnics was wonderful, and then at age 11 came the skiing in winter. I was done, all in, life didn’t get any better.

Years later I found myself living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was not alone as an artist mesmerized by the mysterious mountains. This Victor Higgins painting, Mountain Forms #2, is one of my favorites of all his work.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona. Photo from www.gatewaytosedona.com.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona. Photo from http://www.gatewaytosedona.com.

I first traveled to Arizona on my honeymoon, the last of the “Four Corners” states I had not yet seen, after Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. We rode horses over this stream near Cathedral Rock, beneath the amazing rock forms red and stunning. It is no wonder that red is the dominant color of earth in my perception. Even in Kauai, Hawaii, red soil is everywhere.

High Mesas in the Desert, oil and digital sketching, Karen Gillis Taylor, 2013

High Mesas in the Desert, oil and digital sketching, Karen Gillis Taylor, 2010

My painting study, above, “High Mesas” might indicate I have seen the amazing land forms of our American Southwest deserts and Shiprock. I have seen Shiprock several times… from the SKY! It stands out dramatically. At first it looks like a piece on a chess board, then you get a sense that it must be truly huge to see in person.

Shiprock, New Mexico

Shiprock, New Mexico

Red Rust Hills by Georgia O'Keefe

Red Rust Hills by Georgia O’Keefe

I was delighted to see this O’Keefe painting for the first time. It is grounded in the EARTH theme. I find the undulating forms  similar to the Higgins image above, do you?

Pedernal, 1945, by Georgia O'Keefe

Pedernal, 1945, by Georgia O’Keefe

Georgia  O’Keefe claimed the Pedernal mountain as her very own, and painted it many times from her viewpoint at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico. In this painting, the world seems to bear down on the tiny mountain in the distance, hinting that Georgia’s immense world view touched down at the blue Pedernal peak in the distant horizon. We artists can become very attached to our earth and its wonders.

Pedernal Mountain, view from Ghost Ranch, NM

Pedernal Mountain, view from Ghost Ranch, NM

Dark Mountain, David Barbero

Dark Mountain, David Barbero

I first discovered David Barbero’s paintings at Ernesto Mayan’s gallery on Canyon Road, and would love to see a retrospective of his collected works. You may know of my love of imagination-inspired paintings, and Barbero let loose his art spirit time and again with simple shapes and lines creating the whole. In his Dark Mountain painting, earth forms are no longer the more commonly seen red, green and blue, they can be dark violet and lime green.

The last of the four elements in the next blog will be Fire. Does fire have a certain expectation of color in your mind? Can the artist create something unexpected, yet believable in her image that is about fire and flame?

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Painting the Four Elements 3: Earth”

  1. Sarah Schultz Says:

    You are a wonderful teacher, Karen. I see Grant Woods paintings as well as Georgia O’Keefe. just beautiful.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: