Thursday, September 3, 2009

13. A Tale of Two Artists

Convergent evolution is when two different species, sometimes widely separated by time or location, adapt to similar environments by evolving similar characteristics. An example is the streamlined shapes of sharks (a fish), ichthyosaurs (a reptile), and dolphins (a mammal). I think something similar occurs to artists, allowing them to sometimes think very much alike.

In 2006 I visited the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. On my way home, I took a shortcut down a small highway across the great plains of eastern Colorado on to Kansas. I usually keep my eye open for interesting sights along the way that I can photograph and use in my artwork at a later date. We were in a hurry to get home, so I had to be content with taking quick snapshots of buildings and terrain as I sped along in the car. Driving through Matheson, Colorado, my eye spotted a simple, white church that just cried out to be painted. Unfortunately, my camera wasn't ready, I missed the shot and while I should have stopped and gone back to photograph it, I didn't and regretted it almost immediately.

Then in early 2009, I started to explore on the internet the Street View feature of Google Maps that allowed you to view the surrounding landscape from any point along roads that had been photographed by Google. It occurred to me that I might be able to re-capture views from the highway that I had missed before. At right is an image captured from Google Maps Street View of that church that I downloaded in April, 2009.

Great minds must think alike because a couple of weeks ago I opened my September, 2009 issue of Southwest Art magazine and on page 12, to my surprise, was another image of that same church in Matheson, Colorado. It was a watercolor, Church Key, Matheson, by Brian Clifford, 22 x 30, shown at right. Mr. Clifford's painting is too detailed to have been made from Google's crude image, but it does show that he was, as was I, struck by the same simple lines and graceful shapes of this little church, nearly alone out on the plains. I commend Mr. Clifford for following through and creating a fine work of art. I will eventually do the same, probably in oil. You'll see it here first, when I do.

1 comment :

  1. Hello Bob.

    Brian Clifford here, from Colorado. Thank you for the kind words and acknowledgment. Next time you come out you'll have to look me up. We can do a painting trip on the plains of Colorado together.
    I spent many days and weeks roaming the area around Matheson in my VW camper. I really like your paintings of Mesa Verde and Moab.
    Send me an email: