Painting with Excitement Again! Hackberry Prickly-Pear

After a long drought, I’m excited about painting again! For several years I spent a lot of time and energy, both physical and emotional, helping care for my elderly parents as they were challenged with many health problems. I just didn’t have enough energy left to be creative and painted very little during this period. Mom developed dementia which progressed to her being bedridden. Dad suffered a couple bad falls, breaking his neck and back, survived colon cancer, and had many diabetes-related issues including a partial foot amputation. We joked he was a cat with 9 lives because he always popped back, until he didn’t last year at age 90. He was unexpectedly diagnosed with liver cancer on a Monday morning and died on Wednesday evening. He and mom passed within a day of each other 4 years apart. My sisters and I remembered the anniversaries of their deaths last month on April 12 and 13 – dad’s 1 year and mom’s 5 year.

Taking a few months to deal with their estate and adapt back into the role of a non-caregiver, at the end of 2023 I got busy re-organizing my office/studio space to make it ‘pretty‘ – see it here. By early January 2024, I could feel my desire to paint beginning to return, and I was ready for something different. Then I happened across a couple free acrylic landscape painting workshops on Facebook. On a whim, I signed up, ready to carve out some me-time. Both workshops were geared toward a more loose, impressionistic style. I’d ventured in that direction in the past with a few of my paintings, working from my own reference photos, but always fell back into my comfort zone of cute, whimsical designs for the craft market. These workshops turned out to be just what I needed to gain some confidence to take my art further. I had so much fun, I signed up for more. For the past few months in between taking workshop classes, I’ve been working on some of my original paintings inspired by my collection of photos from our travels.

This latest painting is from a 2004 photo I took in Hackberry, AZ. I was teaching and exhibiting at the Creative Painting Convention in Las Vegas that year. Dave came out to spend a couple of days with me. We had a break in the schedule, so rented a car and drove down to Hackberry which is on old Route 66. There’s a little vintage gas station/store that is a big tourist draw. At that time they had some donkeys on site. They also have vintage cars in various stages of disrepair. I was charmed by this prickly pear cactus growing in the wheel well of an abandoned rusty shell of a car and took several photos of it. The added blooms are my artistic license since it was February and no blooms were in sight when I took the photo.

If you ever have a chance to travel along Route 66, I recommend a visit to Hackberry. We’ve been back a couple of times since our 2004 visit, and although the old gas station is still drawing a crowd, this car and the donkeys are no longer there. Venture a little further west to Oatman, AZ, and you’ll encounter all the donkeys you’ll ever want! I actually started a Hackberry Burro sign after our 2004 visit but never completed it. I need to pull it out and finish!

If you want to see some of my other original paintings based on our travels, you can see them here. I’ll be adding more in the days to come.

I hope you’ll comment and let me know if you’ve dealt with painter’s block, and whether this type of design is something you would be interested in learning to paint. I’m trying to decide what direction I’m going with my tutorials. I always love hearing from other artists.

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