Torrey Layers

As I wrote in my last post, the workshop I taught in Torrey, Utah with artist friend, Jeff Juhlin and the subsequent hikes through Capital Reef and Arches National Parks, was most inspiring. The land, colors, forms, lines, just everything, inspired me. Part 1 of my Torrey posts focuses on the the amazing texture and sculptural forms within the landscape and I’ve devoted this post, Part 2, to layers, color and marks.

My foundation as an artist lies in textiles, specifically in quilting, which ultimately led me to explorations in encaustic. Building up the layers of colored wax, fusing them with heat and scraping them back to reveal amazing things will always keep me working in the medium. To me, layers of wax and other materials represent skin, cells, earth’s geology and its atmosphere, while layering itself relates to memory, perception and time. I see layers in everything and what better place to view earth’s layers than in Torrey, a place that changes daily, but so slowly and gradually, it seemingly never changes at all. In this amazing place and similar to the the process of encaustic, earth’s layers are built up and through the slow processes of water and wind erosion, those layers are revealed and transformed.

The surfaces of most rock faces in Torrey are covered in spectacular colors ranging from subtle pinks, yellows and whites to the deepest sepias, siennas and umbers. These painterly surfaces are known as ‘desert varnish’, a staining that occurs over time through an extremely slow combination process of water and time. Other surface marks, textures and swirls are also visible on the rock’s surface, manifesting a ghost of the water that created it.

Just as stunning as the desert varnish are the colorful, textured markings of lichen, covering the more protected, hidden rock surfaces. Most striking are the color contrasts arising between the greens, yellows and blues of the lichen and contrasting red earth or black lava rocks. Because lichen in the high desert grows abundantly on porous surfaces protected from strong wind and sunlight, it is often overlooked and/or quickly dismissed. However, those who look closely are rewarded with brilliant color, extraordinary patterns and unexpected plant-like formations.

In addition to my own photographs, I have included other artists whose work references layers and marks similar to the surfaces I encountered on my hikes. See more artists like these on my Fiber Pinterest board here and my Drawing and Marks Pinterest board here. Names and web site links to the artist’s included below are in order as follows: Bill Gingles, Deborah Kapoor, Dorothy Caldwell, Erin Endicott, Fran Skiles, Jeane Meyers, Jennifer Reifsneider, Jeri Ledbetter, Junko Oki, Lee Kaloidis, Matthew Harris, Sue Hotchkis, Ward Shumaker, Adam Cohen.

Stay tuned for the next and last post (January, 2017) related to my wondrous trip to Torrey, in which I will share a series of drawings I started during the workshop I taught there and have been working on during my subsequent travels and since I returned home.

If these posts about Torrey, Utah have inspired you, you are in luck because Jeff Juhlin and I will be teaching in Torrey together again in August, 2017. Visit the updated blog post for details about this exciting workshop.

For even more inspiration, view other posts on Layers here and here. See some student work from a workshop I taught on Layers and Texture here and follow my Layers Pinterest board here.

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6 comments

  1. fantastic post. that lime green lichen is awesome. Is aw mush of what you posted..totally marveling at it all. That sense of eons of time is palpable…you got incredible images. those ones that looked burned in…! Scribbled down some of the artists you mentioned too and will explore their sites later (Dorothy Caldwell, Erin Endicott, Jennifer Reifsneider, Sue Hotchkiss). OXXOXOXO

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  2. What a glorious plethora of visual inspiration! I very much enjoyed your December workshop @ R&F and l am lost in my studio experimenting and exploring all I learned over the long winter season. The list of artists you suggested are excellent and look forward to many hours exploring their work. Wishing you a fulfilling holiday season and creative new year!

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