Category Archives: Paintings

BIRD WATCHING

It has been almost a month since my last posting. Not being able to include pictures has been a deterrent to making new entries. Our son, Owen, has solved the problem, for which I thank him.
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This is one of Owen’s great photographs

 

 

 

 

 
In the last week or so we have had a lot of rain – about three inches in three days at our house. Considering that this area receives only a little over ten inches a year, that is a lot. And more is on the way. This leads us to expect a spectacular show of spring flowers.

Recently Ed and I were invited by our friends Doug and Arlene, to see the birds in the nature preserve known as Whitewater Draw in Sulphur Springs Valley, near the border with Mexico. The preserve is one of a number of locations for the Sandhill Crane. It has several very large ponds, full of all kinds of water fowl and other birds. Doug and Arlene, both keen birders, pointed out a number of them: Great Horned Owl, Shovelers, Pintails, Coots, Ruddy ducks, Green winged teal, to name but a few. We arrived late morning.  It was a beautiful overcast day, with grey clouds reflected in the water. This part of the valley is flat, and is ringed with mountains ranges. I thought, “This is a watercolor day.” When we got home I did a little sketch which I will later develop into a painting.

Whitewater

 

A 5 by 9 inch watercolor sketch

 

 

 

We saw only a few cranes in the morning, but were treated to a large flock of Snow geese, which circled, finally landing in the water only to take off later, circle, and then land again. It was a wonderful sight, especially when the sun caught their brilliant white color.

We went to the old mining town of Bisbee and returned after lunch. As soon as we got out of the car we could hear flocks of sandhill cranes, in raucous conversation. They came swooping in, some landing on the ground, others waterskiing up to the shore. Later more flocks arrived. Had we stayed until dark, we might have seen as many as ten thousand of them. What a treat! The flocks stay here until the middle or end of February when they will migrate north for the summer, some going as far as northern Canada and Alaska.

cranes landing

 

A flock on the ground, and a half a dozen coming to join them

 

 

 

 

In my last posting I mentioned seeing a number of Jack rabbits on a couple of our hikes. Here are some pictures.Hare ears

 

 

hares twoNote the huge pink ears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes they run rather than hop

 

 

 

 

Rabbit 1

 

And this is a rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a few weeks, we will see the desert in bloom!

SUMMER SIGHTINGS

The June issue of TUCSON LIFESTYLE HOME & GARDEN has an article called: “Blood is thicker than watercolor” by Megan Guthrie. It is a fine write up of the father/son duo, Frank and Owen Rose. This is one of the paintings featured.

-thundering falls

“Thundering Falls” by Frank S Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is a link to the article (pp. 10, 11).
http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=210119&p=10#%7B%22page%22:10,%22issue_id%22:210119%7D

It has been a long time since we have had significant rain here in Southern Arizona, but there are many flowers in bloom in the mountains. There is a field of Lupine (Lupinus palmeri), the only Lupine species growing high in the mountain (4500 feet and above). The flowers are normally blue, but in one patch we saw three albinos.

Lupine white

 

 

An albino lupine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not far away was a rare example of Green gentian, or Deer’s ears blooming (Swertia radiata). These plants have large leaves, (like deer’s ears) and year after year store energy underground until they finally send up a flowering stalk. These can be as tall as eight feet.
Swertia stalk

 

A portion of a five-foot tall stalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swertia radiata7

 

 

An individual flower

 

 

 

 

 

 
Another large plant is Cow Parsnip (related to Hemlock), whose name Heracleum lanatum, means woolly Hercules, referring to the Greek muscle man. The leaves can be larger than dinner plates. The flowering heads have many groups of flowers, and each group has many flowers. These tend to be irregular, with larger petals at the edges of the inflorescence.
Heracleum lanatum3

 

 

 

This plant is about five feet tall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heracleum lanatumFL

 

 

Looking down at the flower head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heracleum lanatum9

 

Two flowers – note how the petal size varies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ed and I were hiking along the Mint Spring trail. We came to the site of the old spring, now dried up. Looking up we saw a hillside that used to be covered with Ponderosa pine. As you can see in this photograph, they all burnt in the fire 11 years ago. On one slope I did not see any new trees. About a quarter of a mile north there were many young pines. But the most successful trees after a fire are the Quaking Aspen. These trees regenerate from the roots, and a patch that seems to contain hundreds of trees may be just have one root system underground with many trunks rising out of the ground as if they were separate trees.
snags and sky

 

Looking up at the burnt forest. Note the interesting cloud patterns

 

 

 

 

 

snags and new growth

 

 

A portion of the hillside with new pine trees

 

 

 

snags and aspen

 

A portion of the hillside with new aspens

 

 

 

 
These days the temperature goes above 100 degrees in the valley, but the mountains are cool and beautiful. And the plant life on the mountain is slowly coming back after the fire of 2003, a fascinating process to watch.

SPRING FLOWERS

Last Wednesday Dave delivered my new computer. It has been over three weeks since I let go of the old one. Most of that time I have spent trying to get over a heavy cough and cold, which meant that I was not getting out into nature the way I love to do. Sorry about the long gap between postings.

At the end of January (Jan 29)  I reported finding a fungus (Puccinia monoica) that invaded a plant, Rock-cress (Boechera perennans), changed its growth pattern and made the leaves look like flowers. Yesterday Ed and I went to visit the infected plant to see how it was doing. Though it looks a little the worse for wear, you can see in the photograph that the growth pattern is still the same and the fungus is still turning the leaves on the tip of the plant yellow so that they look like flowers (on a plant that has pink and white flowers.) The other Rock-cress plants nearby have mostly  finished blooming and have gone to seed. This fungus has been at work pretending to be a yellow flower for at least ten weeks.

fungus flower2

The infected plant is projecting out from a steep bank

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Some of the many dandelions in bloom

We drove up the mountain to Turkey Run. It is still very early in the season and there are not many plants in bloom. We did see a healthy crop of dandelion. Later we found the orange gooseberry in bloom (Ribes pinetorum). For several years I tried to photograph this plant, but was too late. Here it is, blooming in April. On the way down the mountain we found its cousin, Golden currant, (Ribes aureum) in full bloom.

Ribes pinetorumFL

 

Orange gooseberry flower. It begins red and turns white with age

 

 

 

 

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Ribes p fl fr

 

The Golden currant flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange gooseberry with flower, last year’s fruit (out of focus) and a penny for scaled

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite flowers on the mountain is the Green gentian or Deer’s ears (Swertia radiata). It produces a crop of very large floppy leaves each year for many years. In its final year, the leaf pattern is different as it sends up a flowering stalk which can be as high as 8 feet (as in this photograph). The stalk has hundreds if not thousands of pale green flowers. After it produces fruit, the plant dies. This means that it is monocarpic, meaning that it only flowers once in its life. Swertia radiataPL

An eight foot tall blooming Green gentian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swertia radiataFL2

 

An individual Green Gentian flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swertia shoot

 

New Green gentian growth

 

 

 

 

 

Swertia seedlingsEd and I saw some Gentian plants with last year’s foliage all dried up and in the center, new growth. Within the next few weeks we will see if any of these will send up a flowering stalk. Last year there were very few that flowered, but lots of foliage.

Hillside with a number of Green gentian plants (we found 26 in the area)

 

 

 

We enjoyed seeing Arizona Valerian (Valeriana arizonica). This genus is known as a medicinal plant, acting as a sedative. These bloom early in the Spring where in some damp places high in the mountain they carpet the forest floor.

Valerian rock

An Arizona Valerian near a rock

 

 

 

Valerian fls

 

 

 

A cluster of valerian flowers with lavender tubes and white flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

This week end (April 12 and 13), I am participating in the Tucson Open Studio tour. Our home will be open from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Come on over.  (9233 E Helen St.)

GRAND CANYON PAINTINGS

In just a week my son, Owen, and I will have an opening of our art show at the Contreras Gallery. The opening is Saturday, February 1st from 6 to 9 pm, 110 E. 6th St., Tucson. This will be my fifth show at this gallery. Each year I have had a theme. Last year it was “Rocks and Water”. This year it is that great inspiration, the Grand Canyon. Here are two of the paintings.
Canyon highlights under painting

 

The unfinished painting – “Canyon Highlights”

(The darkness on the right side of the painting is due to the way it was illuminated when I took the picture)

 

 

 

 

Canyon highlights

 

“Canyon Highlights”

 

 

“Canyon Highlights” felt right almost the moment I put paint to paper. When I had finished blocking in the main forms I liked it a lot and was almost afraid to touch it again for fear of spoiling the effect. It wasn’t until I had finished all but three of the 24 paintings for the show that I returned to this one, and decided to take the risk of working on it more. In the end I was very happy with the result. Incidentally, during our Christmas vacation, I had used the drawing for this painting as an exercise in teaching some of my family members watercolor. There are now a half a dozen versions of this painting in various homes in our family. All the young artists did wonderful work.

The Drama of Evening

The other painting is a full sheet (22″x30″), called “The Drama of Evening”. I love the contrasts of sunshine and shadow in these sunset views. A scene like this can be very fleeting, lasting only a few minutes. The people in the painting help to convey something of the scale of the canyon. If you are in Tucson on the first Saturday of February I would love to show these two paintings and the other attempts to capture aspects of this natural wonder. The show will include two of my oil paintings, and 22 watercolors, plus works by Owen Rose.

Coming Art Show

This past summer I worked intently on a series of paintings for a show coming up in February, 2014 at the Contreras Gallery in Tucson. The show opens on February first, which is coming up very fast. I am glad I have already done the bulk of the paintings. It has been a special treat to return to trying to capture this inspiring landscape. It is also a challenge is to take a fresh look at this very familiar natural wonder.

Here are four more paintings:

Catching_the_first_rays

Catching the First Rays

Coming_back_up

Coming Back Up

Layers

Layers

Toward_evening

Toward Evening

GRAND CANYON PAINTING

I have been continuing to create watercolor paintings of Grand Canyon for a show at the Contreras Gallery in Tucson opening on February 6, 2014. This is the most recent one, done from a photograph taken early in the morning. I enjoyed the diagonal slope of the foreground cliff and opposing diagonals of the canyon shadows. I also appreciated the way the trees and other plants hang out over the canyon, so I called it “Life at the Edge.” The image size is 10″x8″.

I started working on another painting, and when I had done the drawing realized it was taken from a spot only a few feet away from this painting. This shows how much I liked the view! The final effect will look very different.

. GCLife at the edge

A GLORIOUS MOUNTAIN HIKE

A few days ago I went to Arizona Lithographers and picked up their 2014 calendar. I knew that they included one of my paintings in the calender, but wanted to see it in print. This is part of the back of the calendar with  a portion of the August page from a painting I did of Seven Falls in the Catalina Mountains (the painting on the right in the middle row).

AZ LITHO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Yesterday Ed and I decided to revisit a trail I have hiked many times. It is a section of the Arizona Trail (a trail that goes from Mexico to Utah, a total of about 800 miles.) We drove to Molino Basin in the Catalina Mountains, and set off across the road and toward the east. It was cool with light breezes. This late in November we did not expect to see anything in bloom, but right away we saw several camphorweed plants with a few blooms (Heterotheca subaxillaris). Then one lone wire lettuce (Stephanomeria sp.), and several turpentine bushes (Ericameria laricifolia) loaded with flowers.

Turpentine bush

 

 

The leaves of the Turpentine bush smell like – you guessed it – turpentine.

 

 

 

 
It took us a while to realize that there was another plant in full and glorious bloom, one of my “invisible” flowers. We were not sure of the exact species, but it is one of the euphorbias, possibly Spurge (Euphorbia pediculifera). The plant was very dry and somewhat shriveled, and it was not until we got home that I could see that it was really in bloom. In fact it was loaded with blossoms, each one very minute.

Euphorb bellota saddle1

Here is the plant seen from above

It is about 6 inches across

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Euphorb bellota saddle5

Euphorb bellota saddle2

 

Here I am holding two little branches of the plant. If you look closely you can see the individual flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

This is one flower greatly enlarged (the actual flower is less than a tenth of an inch wide)

There is a lot going on in this tiny flower.

 

 

 

 

 
The hillside we climbed is covered with shin daggers (Agave schottii). There were no flowers, but plenty of flower stalks, and some of them sported little baby agaves – pups – plants that were starting to form on the mother ready to drop to the ground and assert their independence. Neither of us had ever noticed shin daggers sprouting babies like this before, though we had seen other agaves that have this skill.
Bellota view
Our turn-around point afforded us a view to the south of Agua caliente hill, and behind it the Rincon mountains. It was a truly gorgeous day, and another delightful hike.

ON DOUGLAS SPRING TRAIL

Ed and I hiked yesterday along the Douglas Spring Trail at the East end of Speedway Boulevard in Tucson. It was a beautiful day, cool, with a good breeze blowing. We saw only one plant species in bloom, Burroweed,(Isocoma tenuisecta). Most of its flowers had dried up.

Isocoma tenuisectaPL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did notice that some of the Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) bushes had flower buds. This reminded me of the time several years ago, when I was looking to find the plant in bloom as an illustration for Charlie Kane’s book, “Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest”. I started looking in February,  and it was already too late. The plants had finished blooming. I had to wait 11 months to try again. So here I was in November, and the male flowers were already in bud. I found some female plants with the remnants of last year’s fruit on them.

 

Simmondisa chinensis

My painting of Jojoba for Charlie Kane’s book

 

 

Recently I have been reading – “Among Whales” by  Roger  Payne (1995). In it he describes the devastation in the whale population caused by whalers from all over the world. He points out that many whales are hunted for their oil. Sperm oil comes from sperm whales, and is inedible. It is not really an oil, but a wax, and was used as a lubricant for fine machinery. It was found that the plant we were looking at today, Jojoba, produces nuts rich in the same liquid wax that is found in sperm whale oil. Since they have been able to grow this plant in desert areas, it has provided an excellent substitute for sperm oil, and in so doing has saved many of the world’s whales. Evidently it has many uses, including skin care, detergent, fuel, disinfectant and perfumes.

We stopped along the trail to look at a Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea). It was about 15 feet tall, but instead of coming straight up from the ground as most of them do, it came out from the base at an angle, and then pointed to the sky. On closer inspection we saw that the base had once supported one of the saguaro giants of the desert. In this picture you can see the base, the ribs of the decayed part of the plant, and the still-living arm.

Saguaro stumpSaguaro tall

 

 

 

It is very unusual for a Saguaro to grow an arm at the base. We wondered if a near-by Saguaro fused with it, or whether it grew a basal arm when the main trunk began to deteriorate.

 

 

We came across some Desert oregano (Aloysia wrightii). Their leaves were very much shriveled but still contained the fragrance for which this plant is famous.

aloysiawrightiiPL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At our turn-around point we wondered where to sit and enjoy a snack. Seeing nothing on the trail we walked down a stream bed and found a cool area out of the wind.

Ed among grasses

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a very pleasant respite, we rose to go and then noticed, just a short distance south of us. a rock with lichen shaped like a target.

Lichen