Friday, October 10, 2008

Big Bend Desertscape

18x24 oil on stretched cotton canvas
$600 (email me if interested)
It looks like our trip to New Mexico and Colorado is going to be delayed. We may still go in November. I am just afraid it will be too cold for Jim to ride his motorcycle and I am sure I have missed the fall colors. When I found out we were not going when expected, I started this larger painting of Big Bend. I have wanted to paint this scene for a long time. I like all the different plants. Big Bend has such a wide variety of terrain from the desert floor to the Chisos mountains. The one plant that really stands out in my painting is the Ocotillo, also known as Jacob's Staff. It is a long spiny shrub growing 10 to 15 feet tall. It lays dormant conserving water by eschewing its leaves until a shower offers relief, developing and dropping its leaves several times a year. It is also known as coach-whip and vine cactus. The earlier settlers and present day residents collect the long unbranching slender stems and create a living fence. Tying them together and then plant the roots, the fence can continue to grow, complete with green leaves and flowers in the season. Red flowers adorn its tips in spring and also on occasion in August - September with late summer rainfall. It is believed that the Indians ate the flowers and fruit pods and that the Apaches used a concoction of roots to relieve painful swellings. The flowers can be used to make a home tea.

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