Literature and Rain (Idaho Road Trip)

The Oregon Trail circumvents the 750-thousand acre lava field.  Yearly, locals reenact the migration in covered wagons.  Four-foot white stakes set into the ground against the hills visibly marks the route they take.  The pioneers hated the lava fields.  The glass lava surface was hard, sharp, craggily, pockmarked and cut up the hoofs of animals and broke wagon wheels.  In pioneering journals the lava fields are referred to as a “wretched and vile landscape from hell”.

“It was a desolate, dismal scenery. Great must have been the relief of the

volcano, powerful the emetic that poured forth such a mass of black vomit.”,

Julius Caesar Merrill, 1864

Last night I was reading Wilfred Thesiger’s “Arabian Sands”, which is about his explorations of Arabia’s Empty Quarter in the 40’s. On page 30 he encounters a lava field similar in scope and magnitude to the one I’m painting. He mentions, “So far it had been the tribes that had threatened us, now it was the land itself.  It was without life or vegetation, a chaos of twisted riven rock, the debris of successive cataclysms, spewed forth molten to scald the surface of the earth.  This dead landscape seemed to presage the final desolation of a dead world.”

And then, this morning I randomly opened a book in which the author was talking about his ugliness “pouring forth like boiling lava from an erupting volcano” which cooled and reached a calmer, level ground.  Through a process of allowing feelings to surface, the author faced his dark side in order to live in serenity and go with the flow.

I love these coincidences encountering lava references. It makes me feel as if I’m on the right track painting here.

Today I painted in mostly rain.  I saw the storm and placed my larger painting under the truck.  I worked with tar on the smaller painting.  The photos show my progression on these three works today (nearly completed).


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