My husband and I had visited Joshua Tree National Park two years ago. Again for a week, we stayed near the northern part of the park, which is the southern Mojave High Desert. On the first trip we did lots of hiking; I took photographs, but did no drawing. I've been yearning to return. This time I drew.
Our rental house was surrounded by a jumble of rocks. Their forms are endlessly amazing. Late in the afternoon, I drew from inside the house. It was cold (40F-50F) the first several days. Also, I was feeling the affects of the higher elevation. The older I get, the more sensitive I have become to changes in altitude (~3,800 feet compared to Iowa's 810 feet). The drawing above was done in a Canson, sand-colored, archival sketchbook (9" W x 8" H), using Derwent earth-tone colored pencils that I had acquired especially for the trip. The photograph below, which included the house, shows the larger landscape.
Joshua Trees are another distinctive feature of the landscape. They are a form of yucca. They remind me of something from a Dr. Seuss storybook! This is the time of year that the Joshua Trees flower. If they do flower, which is not every year and dependent on rainfall. The average annual rainfall in the Mojave Desert is 4.5 inches (compared to Iowa's 33 inches!). There has been even less rain than usual, so unlike our previous visit, we saw few of the large gaudy, white flowers at the ends of the limbs. I drew this in the Park from the protection of the car--again, too cold and also windy. The same Canson, sand-colored, archival sketchbook (9" W x 8" H), this time using a 9B water soluble graphite stick and a white, Derwent colored pencil.
There was fabulous landscaping close-in to the house--plants requiring some, but minimal watering. From the kitchen window, in the morning, looking west, the sun coming up over the roof of the house illuminated this paloverde tree. The zingy, green bark against the blue sky and the distant mountain grabbed my attention. It also was an opportunity to add to my inside-outside series.
I used my Neocolor II water soluble wax pastels in a Canson, black, archival sketchbook (10" W x 12"H).
This is the first installment of my Joshua Tree adventure and set of drawings. More to come from the High Desert. Then, I'll show you what I drew while in Venice Beach, a quaint corner of the Los Angeles metropolis, for the second week away from Iowa winter.