A Blue Motel

posted in: All, Art Lessons, USA | 9

Zion, Utah.

Monumental. Magnificent. Magical. Lofty words woefully insufficient to describe the landscape surrounding me. Rich bands of burnt orange, pink, and yellow reveal the architecture of time, weather, and water. In the cracks and along ridge tops, feisty bands of green define contours like stripes on a zebra.

Every quarter mile or so, I pull over to take photographs until struck by two revelations. One: the professionals do it so much better; and two: at this rate I will never arrive at my destination. So I step on the gas.

An enormous mountainscape approaches on the right, filling my field of vision with granite geometry and lofty peaks. Further on, I see a blue building at the base. It is a building so blue it is having a conversation with the sky above. I want to stop, but there are no driveways, no shoulder. In a moving blur I discover the building is an old motel, boarded up, abandoned. It clings to its transitory existence in the shadow of timelessness.

I cannot look at the motel and the mountain at the same time due to our close proximity, so my head bobs up and down, in utter delight. By the time a turnaround appears, I am far down the road.

But who needs a photograph? The trio of sky, mountain, and motel made an indelible impression. The mountain takes up two thirds of the space. Proportion and presence are paramount, as is texture. Weather. Time of day.

And loneliness.

Shop talk:

I felt temporarily thwarted by drawing and needed to work on something big—something I could push around. I needed to paint. This piece doesn’t belong to a series; it’s not for an exhibit. It’s a loner. A one-off.

Scale was one of the most important elements.

It’s freeing to work from your head, although I did research on motels from the 60’s.

Loving the complimentary color scheme: blue/orange. Compliments are opposites on the color wheel. They “pop” when next to each other; they make a neutral gray when combined.

The ugly phase—working dark to light.  Not necessary when working with acrylics, but oil painting habits die hard.

I am my worst (or best) critic. There are things I want to improve, but they are all small and I doubt anyone would notice except me. Walking away…for now.

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9 Responses

  1. Vanessa Davies

    So thoughtful. I could totally picture it. I also get that frustrated feeling when I try to capture big landscapes (on my phone camera) that the pros do it so much better. I love the colours you used here. Thanks for sharing your insight and techniques. I always learn something from reading your blog. Love ya, V.

  2. Joseph Gorman

    Trust the process, right? We can improve anything we have attempted but we can’t improve anything we are too intimidated to attempt. We can’t improve a blank canvas or a blank page. I love your work and I enjoy learning about the process of creating visual art. Thank you and bless you always.

  3. Barbara Bailey Hutchison

    LOVE this, my friend!!! To think how closely our ships passed in the night…

  4. Lynnette Sandbloom

    There is a richness and beauty to each phase of the painting. I adore the bold strokes! The land is beautiful and simple. The old motel complex and busy. Love how it weights the painting!

  5. darrell

    As usual, your words weave an image and create a depth to your experience. I find myself wondering who were all the people and lives that slept in the blue bedrooms. Always a pleasure to read and see what you are doing.

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