Transformation: Ravens at Sunset 12×9 Oil/Cold Wax

Ravens at Sunset 12x9 Oil/Cold Wax by Michael Chesley Johnson

Ravens at Sunset 12x9 Oil/Cold Wax

Ravens at  Sunset is one of my new pieces in the Transformative Paintings series.  Ravens are said by the Zuni (Ashiwi) to be signs of transformation.  Here, they watch over the Temple of Isis in Grand Canyon as the sun sets.   Ever since I came west two decades ago, I’ve been fascinated by ravens.  I feel a mysterious kinship with them, although I don’t know why.  They are playful birds–soaring, dropping and tumbling in the wind–and full of many voices.  They croak, clack, make a curious “bottling” sound.  And they watch.  They accompany me on many of my hikes.

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Sunset Over Inscription Rock 6×12 Oil/Cold Wax

Sunset Over Inscription Rock 6x12 Oil/Cold Wax by Michael Chesley Johnson

Sunset Over Inscription Rock 6x12 Oil/Cold Wax

This is a “memory” painting from a drive past El Morro National Monument (aka Inscription Rock) one winter evening.  Cold wax medium was used in the making of the painting, which lends it a beautiful, atmospheric translucency.

As a rule, sunsets are difficult subjects to paint.  But this one was so stunning that, while Trina drove, I spent a great deal of time watching and observing it.  I committed to  memory the salient details.

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Orchard in the Mountains 9×12 Pastel

Orchard in the Mountains 9x12 Pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson

Orchard in the Mountains 9x12 Pastel

Although no longer live in Arizona, I still go back to teach plein air painting workshops there.  (Visit www.PaintTheSouthwest.com for a schedule.)  This is a demonstration I did at Slide Rock State Park in the fall, when the apple trees were showing their golden autumn finery.  It was an overcast day, but that just made the color all the richer.

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Lake in the Desert 9×12 Pastel

Lake in the Desert 9x12 Pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson

Lake in the Desert 9x12 Pastel

As part of a workshop I gave to the Tucson Pastel Society, I joined everyone for a plein air outing at a local park.  Tucson, I remind you, is in the desert.  But they had a nice lake, surrounded with cottonwoods, willows and cattails.  We were able to catch the morning sun.

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