Ubehebe Crater Series
I am addicted to wilderness.
I am addicted to solitude even though it sometimes unnerves me.
I seek places where there are no other people, where the mark of the human
hand is absent, where industry and greed have not yet destroyed, where I feel
completely safe in spite of the overwhelming power of Nature.
In 2004 I spent 4 days in Death Valley, California, at the Ubehebe Volcano
Complex, a vast colorless souldles labyrinth of extinct volcanoes which are
relatively young, only about 300 years old.
Because of the horizontality of the site it took 10 sketches laid end-to-end to
document the panorama. On heavy paper in 100 degree temperatures with high
wind I used Sumi ink because it is charcoal ground-up in glue and looks like
molten lava as it dries.
I am in the process of enlarging the sketches into a giant Victorian-style diorama
to be viewed in one space in the round.
From my journal:
"At first there is no color and no sound. Yet each day, when I sat and calmed
down, I began to notice subtleties; there's a slight infusion of ochre in an
otherwise monochromatic vista where ash has slipped further down into
The very rare rainwater does not soak into the ash; it simply washes into dark
blue rivulets which run down on to the center of the volcano.
Depending on the weather the surrounding volcanoes take on a moody tint from
the color of the sky, somewhat like the ocean does. The four days I spent at the
Ubehebe Complex they were slightly light red, then light blue, then light purple.
At first what looked like skinny weeds turned out to be centuries old scented
creosote plants clinging to the very edge of the volcano, braving the seasonal
temperature variations from 0 degrees to 130 degrees and existing on the sparse
annual rainfall of barely a cup of water.
I did not see one bird but in the sky I could hear a constant and distant chirping
way up high like the curlew in Ireland. I suspect if I waited patiently beside a
creosote bush I would have seen indigenous fauna .. but I couldn't stay still long
enough so I had to sketch."
This series is about stillness and observation.
Mixed Media on paper
48 x 80 inches
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