About Cottonwood Canyon


The Inspiration

“Cottonwood Canyon” portrays a scene from New Mexico, along the road between Santa Fe and Taos.  In the early days of this country when Europeans were first settling the west, the cottonwood tree was one of the few deciduous species growing on the desert plains.  They would usually take hold near streambeds where their roots could find easy access to water.  

As summer turns to fall, the leaves of the cottonwood take on a bright yellow hue allowing them to stand out from the surrounding vegetation.  The cottonwoods inspiring this print were spotted late one afternoon in October 2008 down in a canyon through which the Rio Grande ran on its way south.  Bright trees and long shadows dominate the scene.

The Print

“Cottonwood Canyon” is a 21 color print.  The prints were made on Stonehenge paper.  Images are 9⅜” x 24½ ” on 15” x 30½ ” sheets.  Speedball Acrylic Screen Printing Inks were used.  Adobe Photoshop was used for developing the screenprinting plates.  Nine prints are included in the edition.  The project was completed in October 2014.

Two features of this print differ from my previous prints.  This print is long in length, at least 1/3 wider than most of my prints.  I had been interested in making a wide print and “Cottonwood Canyon” provided the opportunity.  This print also is a bit abstract in character owing to the vegetation and the long afternoon shadows.  The abstraction contrasts with the nature of most of my prints which are more realistic to one degree or another.

Progression Series

The print progression showing the development of “Cottonwood Canyon” can be seen in a series of five figures.  The first shows the first nine layers, a range of browns from light tan to dark brown as well as black used to depict the desert and canyon floor.  The next figure shows three additional layers, all various shades of green depicting the trees (other than the cottonwoods) and vegetation scattered over the desert floor.   In the third, there are three additional layers, shades of yellow capturing the bright yellow fall leaves of the cottonwood trees.  The fourth figure illustrates five more layers, primarily showing detail in the foreground.  Three shades of light tan for the canyon bed.  Also, two blues for the Rio Grande and its shadow.  The final figure shows the addition of a black layer.  The black provides additional definition to the trees in the print as well as adds intensity to the late afternoon shadows.
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Plates 1-9

Plates 1-12

Plates 1-15

Plates 1-20

Plates 1-21 (Final Print)