For spring break, we took the kids to Tucson where we did tons of fun things, including rock climbing for the kids, biking for several of us, and painting and visiting botanical gardens for me. This was my second attempt at plein air painting, or painting outdoors, and I went out four times on the trip, but this painting was the most successful. I got the basics down while I was outdoors and then the following week worked on darkening areas and putting a pale bluish wash over some of the limbs to make them “fall back” in your vision to bring others forward. Also lifted up some paint to lighten areas because in keeping track of everything going on, including paint drying even faster in the sun, I didn’t keep the lighter areas as well as I needed.
All in all a very good learning experience. I’m definitely going to try more plein air painting because I remember all the sights, smells, sounds, of the experience when I look at the painting.
Saguaros are the signature plant of the Sonoran desert and they are amazing creatures, reaching great heights over decades (they are very slow growing), in the harshest desert climate. They provide shelter and homes to birds and animals who nest in holes created by other animals. They grow an inch or two in the first decade; the “arms” don’t start branching out until they are 50 yrs old. This one was over 6 ft tall in the front yard of the house where we stayed. There’s tons more info at the link if you’d like to learn more about these really cool large cacti.
Here’s a photo I took at the Tucson Botanical Garden (neat place if you’re visiting!) where you can see that the saguaro has grown up interlocking with another tree. Often saguaros spring up beside a “nurse” tree that helps protect it from the elements.
Here are some more beautiful cacti photos from the botanical gardens. Click on them to view larger if you want to explore.
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