"Strings On Holiday" - 12 inch diameter format on pressed wood, acrylic paint. From an original sketch completed in 1986, currently in the artist's collection. For a time this painting was featured in an art show at Mountain View Station, one of the branches of the US Postal Service at Mesa, Arizona.
I posted a picture of the original sketch for this finished painting in the blog-post entitled "Strings, Dreams and Orchestral Visions" published on 11/21/2013 (still available in the archives). In that post I indicated the story behind this rather imaginative set of images. Previously I did not believe that I could fully or adequately illustrate the visual content of my dreams, but completing the first sketch and then the final painting convinced me that the subject was within grasp. This entire scene was set out before my eyes in a vivid dream sequence which stayed with me for hours, days and weeks after first viewing. The main subject which dominated this imaginary landscape was a floating violin or cello which seemed to slowly advance across a wide agricultural field and then to just hover in front of my vantage point. The instrument seemed to glow with a white light infused from within, emitting musical notes all the way along the richly colored fields below, some notes also hovering above the ground, others disappearing beneath the field, and still others remaining partially submerged like scythes or farm implements skimming the surface. The sky above seemed to suggest a mixture of both daytime brilliance and night-time wonder. What seemed to be a farmhouse in the distance also looked like a music stand from which more notes were emanating and joining the chorus in successive waves. To the left stood an enormous red-branched tree with a fine display of sinewy extremities. In the left distance what appeared to be a striped orange and brown mountain also seemed to become part of the foliage of the red tree, suggesting a colorful bonnet or regal canopy of fantastic size and character. Surprisingly I do not remember hearing any explicit forms of music in the midst of this dream, yet there was dynamic motion, color and possibly just the mysterious sound of a solo violin. At this time (1986) I was working full time as a letter carrier for the US Postal Service and had not played a musical instrument since 1965. In 2000 some friends gave me a beautiful vintage Scandalli accordion which transformed the way I thought about music. Then I joined You Tube in 2009 and began to post some videos of accordion music including some improvisational pieces and folk and classical standards. In some respects I think that the dream of the floating violin and the imaginary landscape helped to re-ignite my passion for seeing and hearing the wondrous beauty of acoustic music. Despite my initial reluctance to try to capture this dream via visual Art, I found that the image came quickly and fairly easily once the process had begun. Correspondingly, the practice and study of music also came along so naturally with the gift of an accordion. It seems that we are only away for a short time and then we are ready to explore anew our musical or artistic roots. Once those notes are planted in the ground, we have only to look up to see the full picture.
Usery Mountain Recreational Park, just north of McKellips Road in Mesa, Arizona. The unique coloration of these mountains may have inspired some of the images seen in my original dream. The finished painting suggests the various stripes of tan and brown, transformed into the brown and orange pattern in the imaginary scene.
The original three inch diameter sketch on artist's paper, composed just after I experienced that unusual dream of the floating violin and imaginary landscape. I used color pens and tried to work quickly in order to fully capture the essence of the scene. The colors differ somewhat from the final painting but remain true to the spirit of the original vision.
There are windswept days in the Arizona Desert where seemingly every color of the spectrum may be examined upon close inspection. This particular area is just north of McKellips Road and Crismon Road in East Mesa, an area where Usery Mountain Regional Park stands adjacent to Tonto National Forest. After a period of seasonal rain, it is amazing to see how green this area becomes, bursting with lime-green, yellow-green, emerald green and dozens of other varieties of spectacular hues. When the desert is dry, one notices the rust-colors, the tans, the yellow ochres, the bleached greys, faded green hues and ashen rocks. The wildlife also exhibits great variety of color, from flashy iridescent hummingbirds to motley colored songbirds and rustic desert quail. Once I visited a Park nearby and witnessed Harris hawks sailing high overhead, looking like noble black falcons on a cerulean blue sky. I am reminded of a phrase coined by American artist Wolf Kahn, a gifted painter and fantastic landscape artist. Kahn once told a group of Drew University art students that he was intrigued by "the tangles of nature," those outdoor spectacles we notice when we truly study and observe the natural environment which surrounds us. The Arizona Desert is indeed such an environment, filled with tangles and colorful spectacles stretching from the desert floor all the way to the blue-grey, purple and lavender mountain peaks.
I love the contrasts between light & shadow upon the desert mountains of Arizona. This area is known as Usery Mountain Regional Park, located just 20 minutes from my home in Mesa. The Park encompasses 3,648 acres and is situated at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains, adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. Pass Mountain rises to 2,840 feet and features a spectacular hiking trail which allows views of 70 or more miles into the distance beyond. The lower Sonoran Desert is a fascinating place offering a wealth of rich color and a diverse variety of flora & fauna. On a bright day with palatial clouds sailing overhead, you can absorb the pulse and atmosphere of this remarkable environment. As you take in the sweet birdsong and distant calls of wildlife, for just a moment you begin to absorb the manifold beauties of the wilderness preserve.