Desert Paintings in Oil and Acrylic by Elin Thomas, AAEA, NAPA, WAOW
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Updated 11/3/2020

La Quinta Desert Plein Air Competition

Desert Paintings - Arizona, and Anza Borrego Area

This is the second painting started in my before-dawn painting session at Grapevine Canyon Ranch. After doing the dawn piece looking east, I spun the easel around and painted the clouds coming up over the Dragoon Mountains behind the ranch. I'm quite pleased with the design of this one, as it seems to hold one's eyes for a long time, enjoying the many vagaries of the edges of the clouds. I'd like to be there again, enjoying the morning light! This little gem is for sale for $100 as an item in my new ebay store.

Since I am still working on the capturing the subtle grays that are permeating our drought-stricken landscape, I headed out today with Vincent van (Pack) Goat for an afternoon of plein air painting. Going about a mile up the canyon behind my studio, I stopped, turned around and painted the view back toward the city. Hard to believe a city of over 150,000 people is just down beyond those trees. Original oil, 12 x 16 inches, complete with goat hair! $200

We all wonder when a painting's finished, right? When can you stop? Well, in my case, I know when a painting ISN'T finished--it shows up without a signature. I ran across this acrylic, started while in the Arizona mountains at Grapevine Canyon, and decided that it needed to go the mile to the finish line tonight. So what did I do? I added the necessary contrast to perk it up--using layers of acrylic color to both bind and unify the design, creating the spiral wherein your eye traverses around the image, and finally finding a resting point somewhere in the middle of the cactus on the left--between the areas of yellow ochre and violet. Another artist might work an additional umpteen hours pulling out all sorts of details. I tend to stop when I get the visual feedback that the design is working. This original 8 x 10 acrylic will be going up on my ebay store in a couple of days for $120.
"Morning Light from Monterey Street Bridge, Palm Desert" I awoke at 4 am on one morning during the Desert Plein Air Competition to be ready for the first light.  I was in place by 5:45 a.m., when the light hit the top of Mount San Jacinto, shrouded in snow.  "It's so dark I can't even see what I'm mixing!"   Original Oil on Canvas, 12 x 16 inches, US $ 300 unframed  Purchase from the artist
"Indio Polo Ground Morning" After the sun came above the horizon, I set up on a side street in Indio and spent the next hour or so painting this 16 x 20 canvas of the beautiully groomed and gorgeously side lit polo field near 52nd Street. The morning light on the distant mountains is so characteristic of the desert light. Original oil, US $ 500 Contact the artist.
"At the Smoke Tree Stables" When I couldn't gain access to Indian Canyons in Palm Springs because of having my dog with me, I turned around and went to the stables at the head of the canyon and found this timeless scene of a rental horse waiting his turn. Called "Raven", this fellow shows the calm nature of rental horses. It was a great experience to paint, to again experience the wonderful handing of color and light. Original oil, 16 x 12 inches, US $450 (unframed). Contact me about it.
"Borrego Palm, Desert Beauty" in the desert of Anza Borrego. The Washingtonian Palms line the seams of moisture that percolate to the surface because of the geologic features of the desert, and this palm was captured forever on canvas in the morning light of the Borrego Springs area. Original oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches US $550 Contact Elin.
18th Hole, Indian Wells Country Club (also called "Ten Inches to a Birdie" Early on the last morning of the La Quinta Desert Plein Air competition in January, and before the Chrysler Bob Hope Classic Golf Championship started, Elin was bundled against the desert cold, painting the final hole on this exquisite golf course. Original acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. US $ 695 unframed Contact the artist.
"From Within the Cancer Survivors Park" After the opening orientation for the artists of the Desert Plein Air Competition, Elin left with the intention of going to the polo grounds to paint her love of horses.  But the sign "Cancer Survivors Park" redirected her to paint this site.  Her father died from melanoma, and this painting resulted from the peaceful park, where she felt truly close to him while painting. Original oil on canvas 18 x 24 inches, US $ 400 unframed Purchase from the artist

"On the hill below the Tram" Elin traveled to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway during the Desert Plein Air Compeition, and painted this 18 x 24 oil while the sun was setting in the west.  The painting was done before the light was gone, and you can almost feel the cold air. This painting was featured in the Idyllwild Community Calendar. Original Oil on Canvas, 18 x 24 inches  US $ 575 unframed  Purchase from the artist