Tree Obsession

Two of my favorite places to hike in Las Vegas are Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston. As I hike, fallen trees align the paths of the desert terrain. The trees in the park of Red Rock Canyon blend in with the sandstone. The particles of sand get blown by the wind into the crevices of the wood and soften the sharp edges of the bark. The erosion of the trees creates colors of yellow, blue, and orange comparative to the desert surroundings. 

The tree I am working on is a root system from Red Rock Canyon Middle Creek Trail. I saw many faces in this formation and sketching my ideas created even more images for me. I love hearing what other people see in my paintings because I see entirely different intricacies. In this piece, I see a fish and very subtle square lines in the wood. There are so many different wonders to see in the desert.

Another place in the desert filled with trees is Mt. Charleston. This magical place sits at a different elevation than Red Rock Canyon and the trees are warped with wind, rain, and snow. Bristlecone Pines are formed into smooth sculptures and have a beautiful yellow, blue, and grey palette. Ponderosa Pines vary from brown, black, to orange, and tan. Along the trails of the mountain, limestone and sandstone riddle the path. 

The contrast of color on the mountain is magnificent. The fallen trees are cradled in green forests and vines as well as sitting lonely at the top of trails. Mary Jane falls has many pine trees and switchbacks of shaded areas to rest. Fletcher Canyon Trail is lined with green undergrowth and limestone rocks. This trail also has various plants and trees along the path to the canyon. The painting I am currently working on in my sketchbook is from Fletcher Canyon. I was fascinated with the differences in the light and darks of the photograph. The wood set in a bed of green amazed me.

Thank you for reading, I would love to hear what you see in the wood. Please send an email or contact me at

Have a great day!

-Karen Hilliard