Sunday, July 15, 2012

Joshua Trees are not Trees

You can't consider capturing the rugged beauty of the Mojave Desert without at some point making a study of the Joshua Tree...I always considered that the Joshua tree to be part of the cactus family. I mean the desert is full of cactus and succulents and you would assume that this spiny tree must fit in there some where. This morning I am waking up in Yucca Valley, California after a night of heavy rain, inspired by the raw beauty of the Joshua Tree that is standing outside my room. I hadn't noticed that the spines actually have a blue green tint with just a hint of silver, rather than what my memory sees as a much darker shade of green, almost an olive green.

After consulting the Joshua Tree National Forest website, which I would consider to be a very reliable source, I learned that for many years the Joshua Tree was considered to be part of the lily family. Who would have guessed that one? As I read on I find that recently, some really smart people, working from some government grant obviously, decided to test that assumption and after some DNA testing we are now educated and informed because the Joshua Tree is really part of the Agave family. This information confirms what I have always known in my heart....The Joshua Tree can't be a lily!

Regardless of the genealogy, surname or classification, the Joshua Tree is a main feature in the landscape in the desert that I call home. You won't paint many desert landscapes without having to consider the irregular and spiny shape of this desert plant along with it's very close relative, the Yucca. Both plants have beautiful spears covered with greenish white flowers in the spring. I found this website to be very informative and covered the very interesting details about where it got it's name and the important relationship it has with the yucca moth.

Early in my return to painting I tried to capture a scene at beautiful Red Rock State park. I'm inspired today to reprint this scene because in the past two years of constant painting, I have improved my techniques.

Here is a more recent painting that I have completed that contains a yucca plant in it. 

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