A little over two years ago I had the fortune of exploring the high deserts of Utah. I was familiar with the landscape, but never had the time to fully immerse myself in this wild environment. We spent several weeks getting to know the different areas and exploring what was there.
Part way through our visit, we found a place to camp overlooking the heart of the state's canyon country. The first bit of our trip was spent mostly exploring and painting the depths of the landscape, in the bottoms of the canyons.
I've always seen images and clips of the wild west in books and films, but this would be the first time I've experienced it first hand. After setting up camp at a new spot, I'll never forget wandering off for the first time out this nearby ridge to get a good look of the area.
The cool air was cut from the warmth of the sun. The sky was broken up with a bit of weather. The slight breeze was chilling at times, but refreshing. As we came out to the end of the ridgeline, I began to notice the distant buttes and mesas towering over the valley floors.
The features of this land were instantly recognizable from all the stories and writings of the western deserts. It almost didn't seem real for a second. I had only seen images of this place and to be standing here, not to mention at the ridgetop where we were, was quite surreal. At that very moment, the fast moving clouds rolled over to block the sun and let certain rays shine through and for a few seconds the landscape came to life.
There's always so much more to the light that shines on the land than its appearance. Light can drive emotion within, get me to think deeper, ignite my imagination, and further my relationship with the wild and life itself. It's a hard thing for me to describe, but at times it feels like light can speak to me.
As I stood there in awe, something came over me in that moment and thought instantly that this was the place. This had to be something to capture in a painting.
The feeling of atmosphere shown through the faded blues on the horizon combined with the warm glow of the sunlight against the rock calms me. The power of weather rolling along low in the sky stuns me. A mule deer buck steps out into the open to lip curl as another group cuts across the hillside behind. It fascinates me what else is out there in the vast openness of the landscape. To me, this is what all of Mother Natures glory truly looks like.
The idea of this painting has been something that I've developed for the past two years and completing it now has me speechless much in the same way as when I was standing there on that ridge. It in a way this piece really takes me back and I'm in awe. I hope you enjoy it as well.
Watch the full painting process in time-lapse:
I'm Chuck Black, landscape and wildlife artist based in Southwest Montana.
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