Formation Near Moab

Pencil sketch of a cliff formation in the Moab, Utah region.
5” x 6.25”, Drawn on Arches HP watercolor paper
with a Faber-Castell 9B Graphite Aquarelle Pencil.

I enjoy taking the two hour drive down to Moab, Utah to study the landscapes along the way. There are many miles of jeep trails there, along with Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks. Basically, from the time I leave I-70, I’m surrounded by gorgeous landscapes of exposed rock layers too old to wrap one’s head around. I usually take the scenic route, hwy 128, which winds alongside the Colorado River, eventually into a narrow valley with high, red rock cliffs framing the road ahead.

On this adventure, I always become keenly aware that we humans really haven’t been here very long at all when one considers the age of the rock layers, the Earth and the Universe. It brings home the song by the rock band, America. ”Dust in the Wind”. The line, “…all we are is dust in the wind…”, suddenly becomes very real and profound when I stand below the high canyon faces and try to count the layers. Each one representing millions of years in passed time and events. And here we are, for an average life span of less than eighty of them; a minuscule amount of time really. Life truly is short!

While putting pencil to paper in an attempt to capture such a scene, one realizes there is no reason to be encumbered with making it a tight, perfect and absolutely true to form rendering. These landscapes are constantly changing incrementally, and at times, catastrophically. They are loose so to speak. Rock towers and massive arches are destined to topple or collapse after all. They are gradually driven by the weather, grain by grain, to new locations, leaving behind a different profile. These landscapes call for a loose sketch then I think. And this is one done in honor of their age and propensity toward looseness.