Malad Gorge


When I was a student at Boise State University, I didn’t have a car. I lived 4 hours from my parents’ house. (In a Western state, 4 hours away means 4 hours of driving an average of 60 mph on the highway, not 4 hours of sitting in traffic as you go through various urban areas.) So, on holidays, I often found myself ride sharing with other students who were heading towards the eastern part of the state. That meant we took the highway pictured above.

I must have passed over Malad Gorge dozens of times before I noticed it.

As you can see above, the gorge is dramatic and steep, but at the point where it intersects the highway, very narrow. The amount of time the car spends actually crossing the gorge amounts to seconds.

Finally, on one of the car trips I happened to be looking up from my ever-present book (fiction, of course … I wouldn’t be reading a coursebook!) at just the right moment to spot this amazing gorge. After that, I started keeping an eye out for it.

It broadens out to the south.

In the years since, I have learned that you can get off at an exit and find a parking lot, park, and walking trail with a footbridge that takes you across the gorge. It’s from there that we got these pictures.

I’d hate to have been the first person, recklessly galloping along on a horse, who found this thing.

An Abstract Farmland Painting

Gosh, I’m so proud of this one.

I made it quickly, in just two days, on a small square canvas, intending to sell it at a local summer festival. But as of drafting this post, we haven’t had the festival yet, so I don’t know whether it’s going to sell.

It’s basically just the scene from my dining room window, done in a blocky, hurried style. I figure it’s the kind of thing that you would hang in your farm-house-themed kitchen, mostly choosing it for the colors and theme. Its lack of detail means that it wouldn’t overwhelm a decorating scheme. I hope.

Here it is in my studio.

As far as I’m concerned, the scene above is pretty close to paradise … natural light, painting supplies, plants, books, and a cup of coffee.

I’m Painting a Fence

Like, painting a picture of a fence.

Get it?

Here’s the fence that was the inspiration for the painting. See how its flaws show up so picturesquely against the light-colored wheat field in the background? I thought I could do a painting of this fence and I could probably manage to sell it, since it’s the type of decorative farm-themed art that you see for sale in stores. My son, who has been selling his paintings of Galaxy Rabbit at town festivals, has inspired me to become more enterprising.

This is, by the way, actually a terrific photo showing how beautiful our farm country can be. You’ve got the irrigation wheel line in the wheat field behind the fence, the windbreak trees, the mountains in the distance, and look! There’s even a pickup on the road!

I started by covering a long, skinny canvas in yellow-green paint (which is the color the wheat field was when I first got the idea, although by the time I took the photo above, it had ripened some more).

Then I started doing the shapes of the boards. I ran out of brown-grey paint and had to mix another batch, which resulted in the boards on the right being a darker color, but that’s OK because the contrast with the dark boards and bright background was actually what I was going for. I added some smears of the darker color on the lighter boards to suggest shadows.

Next I mixed some dark grey and used a stiff, dry brush to simulate wood grain.

Finally, I added the crosspiece, put wood grain on it, and used light grey paint diluted with water to make the whole thing look a bit sun-bleached. The painting looks good in my dining room — especially with the model just a few feet away out the window — but I sure hope it sells!