While on summer breaks from art school, I usually visited my mom in Scottsdale, Arizona. One of my favorite things to do there was to sketch the desert landscape on the north end of town. My mom and I avoided the heat by rising before dawn, then drove to East Dynamite Boulevard in north Scottsdale, to some of the most beautiful desert Iâ€™ve ever seen. With foldout chairs and plenty of drinking water, we planted ourselves in a comfy spot, and as I drew, we would talk away the morning.
After we sat fairly still for a time, little critters like lizards and roadrunners would emerge and scurry past us, and we kept aware for the occasional snake or scorpion. Daytime temperatures often soared past 110Â°F (43Â°C), leaving precious few hours in which to draw before the eventual retreat to air conditioning.
The afternoon heat sometimes gave way to thunder and lightning storms that first brought a wall of dust, then drenching rain clouds that flooded the area. I love the smell of the desert after a rain storm because the wet dirt and plants emit their own unique scent or fragrance.
Iâ€™m not the only one who appreciated this part of the Arizona desert: Frank Lloyd Wright built his home and studio, Taliesin West only a few miles to the south from where this was drawn.
This sketch was one of many I did nearly 20 years ago. It was drawn in pencil on a Grumbacher Omni sketchbook with natural tone pages.