16

Exciting news for this year: Spectacular wildflowers in 2016

Every time I move to a new part of the country, the first thing I do is hop in my car and drive all over the state, it’s one of my favorite ways to spend time on this planet, a modest grab at a bit of freedom for myself. I had some concerns about Texas just before moving here after being spoiled by the beauty of Wisconsin, but those worries were quickly assuaged once I stumbled onto one of the most amazing places in the country (and my second favorite place in the state after Big Bend), an area called the Llano Uplift.

The Uplift is the most geologically rich region I’ve ever traversed, which is as much in evidence in the macro forms of stone and earth majestically gracing the landscape as it is walking down a county road and spotting the myriad varieties of stones and soils along the way. There are fantastic concentrations of iron heavy earths all around, so I get lucky often finding good quality iron oxides for pigment processing. I allow intuition and observation to drive me onto random dirt roads that branch off of the county veins, and some of the best I’ve found end up feeling like a an excursion through a living painting due to the color of the road shifting through all the shades of ochre as I make my way through fields of cactus and cattle, granite pillars and ancient live oaks. I’ve already started the transition into journey mode now, so I’ll be taking the car in for a tune up, and I’m marking out a few places I’ll revisit after my trips last year. I’m pretty excited about finding new ground… Google Earth is easily the best part of the internet.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any plein air landscape work, and even though it’s not my preferred subject matter I’m thinking that I might bring along the easel this year. I mean, it does seem to be the obvious addition to the trip since I’m out there scouting for pigments and drinking in the uncorrupted beauty of the landscape. Add to all of that default scenery a blanket of technicolor vibrating with insect life and I can’t help but move through my days wearing a perpetual smile, drowning in humility and grandeur. No one can paint like Nature can, She is my church.