Arch Rock, Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire in Nevada is a great place to go see wonderful colors of the Southwest. The sandstone is something to marvel at in this magical park. Sunrises and sunsets paint the sky with rich colors. I often take my camera and a sketchbook along with my hiking essentials. One of the spots to stop is called Arch Rock. This rock is slightly off the road and minutes from its trailhead. There are signs placed at the beginning of the trail asking visitors not to climb on the rocks. Some people still do to take their pictures which is really bad for the structure of the rock. I wanted to paint this amazing wonder so it could last forever throughout history. I hope it is still standing many years in the future so all who wander into this park may see it. Many photos were taken for this painting to be created. 

Arch Rock | Watercolor Nature | Original Watercolor | Karen Hilliard Art
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The photograph used as a reference had a boulder through the arch instead of the sky. I chose to use cerulean for the sky and created whimsical clouds to dance through the arch. Orange was used in the layering of rock to add blue’s complimentary color. The rock looks washed out by the direct sunlight above it. Sometimes in the desert the rocks appear white depending on the time of day. The shadow of the rock holds the deep color of sandstone that is amazing to look at. I love the reds, orange, and brown tones throughout this piece along with the subtle pinks I was able to include. If you are ever in Nevada, near Las Vegas, I recommend driving out to Valley of Fire. It is about 45 minutes outside the city and you will not be disappointed. You may even get to see the herd of desert bighorn sheep that live there. Nevada’s state animal! If you have been to this State Park, please send me a message about your hiking experience. Have a great Wednesday, and thank you for reading.

-Karen Hilliard

Fallen Trees in Red Rock

As we walked around in the desert and absorbed our surroundings we found some amazing sites. Mountains of sandstone, riverbeds filled with stones, and fallen trees looking of driftwood all over the paths. The bark was sculpted by the elements of time with wind and water. When I look for inspiration I find it among the trees. I am captivated by texture, lines, and holes of various shapes. Some of the movement is created by the elements and others by the decay of insects. Sometimes the image of the whole tree creates a picture in my mind and other times I see creatures in sections of the bark. I title my pieces when I am out in nature and everyone else sees something different than I do. My favorite part of life is that we all have our own perspective.

In the first picture here I see a bird with a beak looking to their left. I also see a scrunched up face of a human looking to their right. In the second photo I see so much texture I do not know where to start with the focus of the painting. The second photo is one that I could make several paintings out of just from the lines and pockets alone. What do you see in these photographs?

In these vertical photographs I see many images. The tree stump on the left looks like a creature with a large eye and wrinkled mouth. I also see a horn coming out of the creature’s head. The photograph on the right shows me a lizard, a snake, or a bird with a long neck. I follow the grains of the wood from the foreground up into the horizon line of the piece. I like the contrast of color between the trees and the rocks in both compositions. I am excited to see what my hand and paintbrush create with these. Stay tuned!

Moon Wizard” is an original painting. This watercolor measures 18″ x 24″ and is painted edge to edge. No prints were made. We found this tree on Dale’s Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park. This trial is is off of the Pine Creek Trailhead and lies between Pine and Oak Creek.

-Karen Hilliard