Part of our visit to Tucson was spent at the Desert Diamond Cup, a pre-season MLS (Major League Soccer) Tournament. In addition, to taking in the soccer, I enjoyed sitting in the warm sun and making paintings. As a painter, I believe firmly in pushing the boundaries of your abilities. In the spirit of the Eleanor Roosevelt adage, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” as a painter I find myself wanting to make paintings of unfamiliar subject matter, sometimes “failing,” but often expanding my perception of what I can do. I made these paintings in this spirit. I had never made soccer paintings before, but it was a pleasant setting and interesting to consider compositions at this venue, over the course of two days.
View of stands from picnic bench at end of field.
Sketch of tree made while talking to my friend Brendan on the phone.
On our first day in Tucson, still weary from a late night flight, we spent an afternoon at Fort Lowell, one Tucson’s public parks and once a U.S. Army fort built in 1873. The park features a duck pond, where families fed the birds bits of bread, bringing back memories of my own childhood outings to the LA Country Arboretum with my Grandparents. I took up a spot on a shady bench and made this painting of the duck pond and it’s desert surroundings. It was a charming spot and a lovely park. The pond provides an unusual contrast to the earth tones of the surrounding desert, reflecting those tones off the water’s surface.
I recently spent a week in the desert. It was my first return to Arizona since I lived for a year in Phoenix, after graduating from college. It is always a delight to visit landscapes, which are so different from the places that I call home and I was delighted to explore Tucson for the first time.
Flora at Tohono Chul Gardens
I was particularly taken with Saguaro National Park, located off of Cactus Forest Drive, which is quite appropriate because in the park you can see hundreds of cacti in every direction you look. There is something still and serene in the stark landscapes of the desert. Even the dryness of the desert air seems to suggest a kind of calm and the long view across the desert valley is spectacular.
Saguaro National Park
In contrast to the in the desert terrain of Saguaro National Park, part of our time in Tucson was spent at a lush green field taking in pre-season MLS (Major League Soccer) games at the Desert Diamond Classic. Though the cultivated green fields feel a bit out of place in the Tucson desert, the setting is quite pleasant, with a long view the Catalina Mountains and their rich, warm tones at twilight. I enjoyed not just the soccer matches, but also making paintings and sketches, and people watching players and fans.
Bench with water feature at Tohono Chul Gardens
And, of course, there were there are the more urban aspects of Tucson, which sprawls across the open dessert in a more controlled way than Phoenix. I especially enjoyed a visit to Tohono Chul Gardens, meals at Ghini’s French Cafe and Bentley’s, and the opportunity to see Charade on the big screen at the Loft.
Sunset from Gates Pass
Check back in the coming weeks for paintings made on this desert adventure, and as Chicago finally begins to thaw, I am feeling energized by the painting and travel opportunities to come in the warmer months.