Andrew Dickson

Paint-Out to Benefit Mojave Desert Land Trust

Desertscapes Paint-out in The Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage

Evening reception and art auction at Joshua Tree Art Gallery Saturday, April 28, 2012, 5 - 7:30 p.m.

Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT), along with California Art Club, is hosting an open air painting event on Saturday, April 28th in a beautiful natural area known as the Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage.  This paint-out will support MDLT’s current campaign, The Wildlife Linkage Campaign, which aims to preserve several undeveloped parcels in the Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage that connects Joshua Tree National Park to the Bartlett Mountains to the north.

From 9am until noon, artists from the California Art Club, Coachella Valley Watercolor Society, and the Morongo Basin will set up their easels and create paintings that will be auctioned off during an artists’ reception at the Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG) later that evening. The paint-out will take place on Section 11, which sits adjacent to the northern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park and within the Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage. This beautiful area is home to a diverse population of wildlife and is one of the most scenic hillsides on the south side of Joshua Tree. The artist’s reception and art auction at JTAG will be held that evening from 5-7:30pm and include light refreshments, wine, and of course, the beautiful works of art created that day. Featured artists include:

Diane Best Veronique Branger Chuck Caplinger Richard Calderhead Jean Choi Connie Collins Jim Draughon Hermann Fischer Annette Fragasso Andrew Gillespie Patricia Kodet Ray Lanowy Eli Lund Del Lunde Elaine Matthews Terry Masters Eric Merrell Diane Moore John Ressler Nancy Rizzardi Kathleen Scoggin Esther Shaw Silvio Silvestri Liliana Simanton Sylvia Smith Lisa Spencer Barbara Wells-Roberts Connie Zane

This fun-filled day provides a unique way to support the work of MDLT and The Wildlife Linkage Campaign.  The Joshua Tree North Linkage provides important habitat for animals such as desert tortoise, bobcat, fox, coyote and dozens of bird species.   Mojave Desert Land Trust has preserved 2,126 acres in this wildlife corridor, but acquisition of additional parcels is needed if we want to succeed in protecting this critical linkage.  Find out more about how you can support the Wildlife Linkage Campaign by clicking here.

We look forward to having you join us for this wonderful event! The artists’ reception and auction will be held at Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG), located at 61607 Twentynine Palms Highway, Suite B, in downtown Joshua Tree. To RSVP or for more information, please call us at 760-366-5440.

This event is held in conjunction with Desertscapes, featuring a full month of activities every April in celebration of the Coachella Valley plein air art tradition. More information about Desertscapes, as well as a schedule of events can be found at www.desertscapes.net. The artist’s reception and auction is generously sponsored by Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG). Directions and information about JTAG can be found at www.joshuatreeartgallery.com. The Section 11 Paint-out is co-sponsored by California Art Club (CAC). Information about CAC is available on their website at http://www.californiaartclub.org

The New Sublime

An article about the current exhibit at the Salton Sea History Museum will be coming out in the new June issue of Palm Springs Life, written by Ann Japenga and titled "The New Sublime: Artists Working at the Salton Sea Capture the Beauty and Decay with a Fresh Perspective." Click on the images above to read the article.

CSU Summer Arts Workshop

July 11-15, 2011 - Representing the Figure: Drawing and Painting
I'll be one of four instructors this summer at CSU Fresno Summer Arts program presenting painting workshops along with F. Scott Hess, Yu Ji, and Samantha Minear.

Though the title focuses on the figure as a subject, we'll also be focusing on still life and landscape in my class. These workshops are open to anyone - you don't need to be enrolled in the CSU system to participate, and there are many opportunities for scholarships available.

For more info, click the image above for a larger version or click here.

Desert Wanderings

The Call of the Desert (Box Canyon), 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

The lure of the desert recently bit me again and so I went out to the Coachella Valley to paint with Andrew Dickson, Joe Forkan, Yu Ji and Larry Groff at the Salton Sea and some other great spots in the area. We explored some places I haven't been yet, like Box Canyon and Painted Canyon, hiked to the Dos Palmas Adobe and Oasis, once the home of artist John W. Hilton (who lead quite an interesting life: he was a friend of President Eisenhower, James Cagney, Howard Hughes, and the early desert artists including Nicolai Fechin and Maynard Dixon used to gather at his place for parties - more info on Hilton here and here). We also spent some time painting the surreal landscape of Bombay Beach.

The Solid Becomes Light (Painted Canyon), 9" x 12" sketch, Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

In Hilton's words, the desert ". . . is a land of peace, silence and boundless skies …It is as if nature herself set aside these vast areas …so that thinking men might have a place where they go to regain their perspective and find themselves and their true meaning.” From what I understand, the Dos Palmas Adobe has been designated a Historical Monument and is no longer in danger of demolition.

In the top painting above I was interested in the composition - the focus on the deep shadow on the left that then moved across the calligraphy of the face of the cliff in sunlight. After I sketched it and made some notes in my sketchbook,  the color harmonies brought it all together. The painting below that was a fun challenge - frontally lit with almost no shade save under a bush or two - I had to use subtle temperature shifts to suggest some of the form changes on the hills.

If you're in Mecca, make sure to eat at Plaza Garibaldi Restaurant, 91275 66th Avenue, Mecca, CA 92254, 760/396-1500. Some of the best Mexican food I've had in California - you can get a good idea of the quality of a place by their chips and salsa, and these were amazing! Also, homemade tortillas!

Big Sur

The Edge of the Sea_s The Edge of the Sea, Big Sur, 11" x 10", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

I recently sneaked away for a week of painting up in Big Sur, the absolutely amazing coastline between Monterey and San Luis Obispo. After a hasty packing and evening departure, I arrived in darkness and heavy fog just before midnight and set up my tent at the Kirk Creek Campground amidst a number of curious raccoons. I met artists Andrew Dickson and Joe Forkan at the campsite there, as they had arrived a few hours earlier and were already settled in. We painted up and down the coast, often just walking down to the water from the campground. I love the atmosphere there; it can go from a sunny afternoon to cloudy in minutes, with heavy fog banks rolling in off the coast. These are a few of the sketches from the trip.

Pacific_Valley_s

Windswept, 11" x 10", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Kirk_Creek_s

The Sun's Mirror (Big Sur from Kirk Creek), 11" x 10", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Beware of Fish Scapulas, etc.

salton-sea_s Spaceship Landing, 10" x 10", Oil on board, © Eric Merrell

I recently took a trip out to the Salton Sea to explore and paint with my friends Andrew Dickson and Samantha. Man, what a gorgeous place - but so inhospitable. Not the people, though; we met some very nice folks, including Leonard Knight who built Salvation Mountain. We checked out some of the small "towns" like Bombay Beach and Niland, really more like clusterings of houses and trailers, though Niland does have a Chinese restaurant. Quite a few abandoned places that have seen a lot of weather.

The Salton Sea is a very austere place, with no real amenities around. I wanted to paint something that spoke of the simple beauty and the harsh life that residents of the area endure and become a part of. 

The beaches are mostly made of old coral and fish bones, at least from what I saw there was hardly any sand, and the water doesn't look very inviting. Not the kind of beach you'd want to frolic at on the weekend (though it was a hugely popular destination in the 1950's.) We did hear a rumor that there may be a new attempt to fix up the sea, but the odds seem to be against that type of endeavor...