Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What happens in Vegas, comes back in a suitcase

I went to Vegas to paint. I hadn't been there in a long while. I wanted to paint new housing developments and figured there would be a lot of them. Well I didn't know what I'd find.

I first went to Vegas as a kid, with Mom and my sister, Jeanne, after "our" divorce. We always called it "our" divorce for some reason, when my stepfather got divorced. We had been in Reno for 3 months, then San Francisco, then LA and then back to Nevada.

Mom stopped at the Tropicana or some hotel to see if we could get Harry Belafonte tickets. It was sold out. However while she was in there, Harry Belafonte came out and talked to Jeanne and I sitting in the car.

We ended up at the Saharan and we smuggled the poodle into the room. We ended up seeing Bob Newhart who was complained about a howling dog in the room across from him. Oops. Anyhow, Mom passed recently and I also went there to think about her and life.

I stayed at the Venetian as I heard there were gondolas and wanted to see it. A pastiche in typical Vegas style but I really loved some parts, especially this floor. My room was lovely. I was checked in by the hotel manager and thought I might be able to paint on premises but it was so crowded that I never did that.

I was utterly fascinated by this parking garage across the way and wanted to paint that.

I had a cool rental car and the first day drove out east to have a look at it. I was desperate to find a view in this crappy suburb but it took some time. It was Thanksgiving and wanted a place where no one could see me out there, alone, when I should have been in some dining room. I felt ashamed, a bit, though there was really no where else I would rather have been. The weather was just perfect.

On Friday I drove the other way and found a nice view of a housing development and mountains behind a sound wall from a parking lot of a closed church. There were sound walls everywhere, possibly the defining characteristic of Vegas views.

I was going in and out of Target for pee breaks. Target is great for landscape painters as the bathrooms are always in the front in the same place and you can get in and out quickly. I also got hooked on this protein drink they carry which has something like 4 apples, 3 carrots and a bunch of other stuff in it. Oh and I guess I went in Ross and bought a belt and something else.

Since it was black friday I later went to an outlet mall which was mobbed. I wanted to do a night painting there but it really seemed too crowded, at least for my energy level. I did a bit of shopping leaving my dirty water and brushes sitting in the rental car.

I talked to my guitar player on the phone and he thought I was crazy not to get out into the desert. So on Saturday I went to red rocks. I got there late and went right to work next to the visitor center parking lot. No one bothered me. I have never painted the desert before and I am bad at mountains and nature in general so it didn't turn out that great. The image here is in progress. I reworked all the foreground later.

The light collapsed really early, everywhere I went, I guess because of the mountains. Around 3:30 it just sort of died, the shadows disappeared. And you can't paint outdoors once the light has completely changed, unless you are finishing from memory.

I had only a quick look at the actual red rocks but I had hiked on them many years ago. The thing is that I was there to paint and it takes a lot of time to find a view and then paint it.

On Sunday I decided a nice view of the crazy skyline would be good. I found a perfect spot, a bit too close but it had a perfect secluded parking spot and some SHADE. Just perfectly comfortable. A lady security guard came by and said it wasn't safe and didn't want me there. "People try to blow stuff up." I convinced her I would not blow up anything and I just needed another 40 minutes. She let me stay.

It went ok except when the light swung around the whole view changed and I had to just stop pretty much. The fatal mistake was my drawing was off. I didn't zoom out the scene enough. I didn't get enough of the skyline in (though to do so would make it all smaller) and it's just a lame painting.

I found another park on the map and headed for it. Found another Target for pee break and protein shake. Again parked next to the visitor's parking lot facing more mountains and more desert.

This painting went a bit better but I was trying to paint all the plants in the foreground and there were so many of them I just couldn't do them very well. The light died and I just stopped.

I went back to town and ran around a lot. Caesars lived up to the hype. Loved the Bellagio awnings and tile floors. Like some of the art deco touches in New York, NY (had to go there as a New Yorker!) What a crazy place. I spent a lot of money and not much to show for it but I did work very hard. I didn't gamble a cent!

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