Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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Travels in Arizona: March, 2007
Image Gathering and Watercolors

Cochise Stronghold (photo) Michael Baum
Cochise Stronghold (photo) Michael Baum

SUNDAY, 3/25/07
Arizona Trip

We meet at R and L's at 8:00 AM and drive to Cochise's Stronghold east of
Tucson. At the trailhead, beneath soaring rock formations, we meet Dennis
and Nancy from Benson, friends of B and B. We hike the Chief Cochise Trail into the mountains. It's partly cloudy and cool. Just right. we follow a flowing stream through an alligator juniper, pinon pine, and manzanita forest to a spring, then up to a very small reservoir called Half Moon Tank where we have lunch. The rock formations are starting to get interesting, other-worldly. Spires of volcanic ash painted spring green with lichens, jut into the sky, many eroded into unlikely stacks of boulders that look ready to topple.

Another half mile up the trail at an open overlook the scene expands into a
grand chaos of soaring, tilting eroded rocks.
We stand in awe. Then, the photos. Nothing can really get the improbability of the scene before us,
but I try, taking dozens of photos.

Cochise Stronghold (photo) Michael Baum
Cochise Stronghold (photo) (possible large painting) Michael Baum

Sabino Canyon, Michael Baum WC sketch, about 3" x 4"

Sabino Canyon, Michael Baum, WC sketch,
about 4" x 3" 


Eventually, we make our way down the 2 1/2 miles back to the trail head and caravan over to Dennis and Nancy's ranch in Benson for a cookout. The ranch is a comfortable, easy-going, place all hand-built by Dennis and Nancy. It's a genuine sort of place that reflects the character of our hosts. We feel at ease instantly. They show us around the house and grounds introducing us to the horses and mule. We help with feeding. In the warm evening sun, we sit down to dinner on the deck, grilled chicken, beans, salad, wine, and beer. We are having a blast. Animated conversation punctuated by laughter unravel into the night. A toast: Old friends. New friends.

Tuesday, 3/27/07
Arizona Trip

After a day of relaxing, I want to get out. After a day of shopping, Patrice wants to relax. We compromise. I spend the morning helping Barbara download photos from her camera. Around 11:00, we drive over to Sabino Canyon, so I can
paint watercolors.

At the canyon, we hike in the warm sun through open desert. After a mile, we come to Sabino Creek, rushing cool water from the recent rain. following the creek upstream, we soon find a dam. It's about 10 feet high, made of stone. Water pours over its entire width, maybe 50 feet. We skirt around to the top of
the dam and, instead of a pool, we find a shallow but wide, creek-bed that is filled with sand right to the top of the dam. Shady trees overhang the burbling stream. We remove our shoes and wade into the cool water. Patrice settles on a sandbar. I explore with the camera, looking for a good painting.

Over the next couple of hours, I paint several small watercolors. Awkward. I haven't done this since last summer, and it shows. It takes a couple of abortive efforts before I start to get the hang of it. The last couple of paintings are okay. I paint them without
any pre-drawing, something new for me. I'm hot and burnt from painting in the sun. Time to go.



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