I've been doing a lot with charcoal lately, experimenting with techniques to get the results I want. I like the moodiness that's possible with charcoal, it can be both mysterious and soothing.
"High Desert Hay Field"
8" X 10" charcoal on paper
Both of the drawings I'm showing today are based on photos I took in Ogden Valley, Utah. Ogden Valley is an interesting place. At one end of the valley and taking up a large section of the valley is Pineview reservoir where a lot of recreational boating and fishing takes place. This reservoir is surrounded mostly with rural scenes as well as many beautiful nature spots. Most of northern Utah is considered to be high desert. High desert differs from the low deserts. We still have frigid winters and often with plenty of snow fall and enough moisture to still support agriculture and keep rivers flowing so course there are plenty of pockets of natural green, mostly along rivers and other bodies of water. The area is heavily populated though and with water systems such as irrigation and reservoirs there are lots of areas that are green only due to the management of water by man, too many in my opinion, to the point that natural areas that should be green end up drying up even in a mild drought to keep our lawns green. I won't get on a soap box about that but Utah has a water management problem that's only getting worse every year and it seems to me not nearly enough is being done to correct it to avoid the destruction of our natural resources.
8" X 10" charcoal on paper
It's one thing to consume water for life sustaining reasons such as to support agriculture but it's another reason to consume millions of gallons of water every year just to keep lawns green. Ya, green lawns are nice but we live in a desert here, our priorities are out of wack. It's far more important in my opinion to keep the wetlands wet than to keep your lawn green or your car clean. Sorry, I guess I did get on the soap box a bit there, this wasn't my intention when I started writing this blog post but there it is so I'll leave it.
I usually only talk about my art in my blog posts, so I'll talk about today's art in relation to my little rant. Both of these charcoal drawings show agricultural scenes, hay fields in particular. Hay is grown a lot in northern Utah, not just because it's needed to support the cattle industry but because it's relatively easy to grow in our arid conditions, a responsible use of our land in my opinion, though I'll admit I don't know or understand all the details, I'm not a farmer. Another thing I think these drawings show is that the high desert is beautiful. Besides the hay fields all the flora depicted in these drawings is more or less natural. I'll admit some of the trees wouldn't be there if not for the existence of the canals and ditches used for irrigation but many trees will spring up in areas where there is no discernible water source, nature has it's ways. But even the natural grass and chamisa (rabbit brush) depicted in the foreground is beautiful in it's own way. Desert does not mean "lack of life", life and beauty are abundant nearly everywhere, we just need to open our eyes, minds and heart to it.