Artistic Philosophy and Adventures
Pat Goltz, Sharing My Life
About twelve years ago, I was freshly retired from being a full time mom and caretaker for other family members, and got to thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. We needed for me to make money if I could, and I needed to decide what I would do to bring in money. I had two choices: either law or art. I chose art because law is too intense and stressful for me (mostly the constant deadlines) and I would try to do as good a job as possible, which means I probably wouldn't earn that much, because good legal work takes lots of time.
Art was natural for me because I live and breathe to make beautiful art and to see beautiful places and living things. Maybe I will never make much money from it. Who knows? All I can tell you is that it doesn't matter. I have to do art. So I do it.
In this lens, I will share some philosophy and a few snippets of my adventures.
There might be many images that would represent who I am. I chose this one because like the Saguaro, I would like to be, and continue to be, tall and straight, enduring.
(Unless otherwise noted, photo credits Pat Goltz)
My Artistic Philosophy
I strive to be a Renaissance person in my life, someone who loves learning and practices virtue and joy.When I do art, my mind is engaged in pure thought, bypassing language. The visual impression itself is the meaning. My art begins with a found object, such as a random mathematical formula or something that catches my eye and therefore my camera. As I develop it, the found object and what I do to it merge seamlessly. My image grows as an organic object. When I do art, I discover what is hidden in the medium and reveal it, much as a sculptor finds the object in the rock and chips away everything that does not belong to the object. When I take a photograph, I merge with my subject and become my subject. Failure to do this means the photograph will not please me.
When I do photography, my purpose is to make natural beauty available to people who cannot go where I go.
I consider something to be art if it is beautiful, or inspires a person to do a humanitarian act. Art is supposed to be a conscious representation of order, not chaos. It is not supposed to be ugly. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, for me it must have form and meaning. It should show skill. It is not violent, either to humanity, or to sensibility. Art shows the inner peace of the artist. Even artists who are in horrible life situations can have that inner peace, and it shines through. If there is not that inner beauty, I can't connect with the art or the artist.
When I do digital art, I often prepare my own "raw materials", such as scripts in Apophysis, or materials in Bryce.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Good Wildflower Year
This is the first of a few adventures I have written about. This one was about the spring wildflowers, and my chasing them with my camera.
It's a good one this year! We had enough rains to produce abundant wildflowers. I don't think it was quite as much rain as in 2005, but still, the displays are impressive.
So far, I have been in my neighborhood, and at Picacho Peak (I missed the best flowers; by the time I got there, it wasn't a solid field of poppies anymore), and South Mountain, south of Phoenix, and then I went up to Lake Pleasant, north of Phoenix, and the wildflowers there TOTALLY blew me away with their beauty! Solid fields of color on the sides of the hills. And at the very last, I went to the White Tank Mountains. The traffic to the mountains was UNBELIEVABLE! In 2005, there were very few houses in the area, although to be fair, I took a northern route this time. It was continuous shopping and crowded multi-lane streets all the way. Phoenix is growing like a cancer! I got to the White Tank Mountains around 5. There wasn't much opportunity to take pictures, but it was rather disappointing anyway. Although there were lots of different species of wildflowers, there were only two kinds of flowers that formed vast carpets or anything resembling this. There were some hillsides, facing south, that were covered with brittlebush in bloom. Along the roadsides, there were also good stands of lupine. Other than that, lots of this and that, but nothing really showy. I hope to go out again several times. I was going to go today, but didn't feel that great, so I stayed home instead. I got some really interesting shots. I also have a backlog of sunsets and sunrises. It never quit! It should have, but it didn't. It's been sunset and sunrise season ever since mid summer last year! I have photographs from over 110 separate days.
I got some really good eatin' while I was there, too. The first night, I ate at a restaurant near South Mountain that had the most medicinal salsa I have ever eaten, and it was delicious! I had a salad with wild greens and chicken and avocado slices. I have talked to the chef about making up a lot of salsa for me, and I'm hopeful I'll have some soon. The second evening I ate at a Mexican restaurant west of Phoenix, and had nopalitos, and they were VERY good. But I'm a sucker for nopalitos, anyway. For those not familiar, nopalitos are sliced young prickly pear pads, mixed usually with some kind of chili sauce. I had red chili sauce with beef in it.
The photo is Bluedicks, which is a kind of wild onion. (Larger copies of the photos in this lens are available, or will be, in my other Lenses).
Yesterday (about two weeks ago as of this update) I went to the Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Mountains west of Phoenix. Some faces of the Superstitions are pretty spectacular in their own right, and in my opinion, the face that the State Park has is the prettiest. I just love all those spires. The most showy flowers this spring are the poppies and chuparosa, though the brittlebush are about ready to pop, and THAT will be a show. I will try to go back. I also saw lupines, fiddlenecks, scorpionweeds, bluedicks, desert mallow, desert marigold, ephedra (only the second time I've seen them in bloom), jojoba, and probably a few other things.
While I was hiking (about three miles round trip), I met some interesting people. One couple was riding their horses. I have pictures of them. Also, I was doing some macro work when this fellow walked up to me and said, "There's nothing to take pictures of out here." So I said, "Well, I just like to waste film!" I told him later there was nothing to see either, so he was walking for no good reason. He got as much of a kick out of that as I got out of his comments. Funny how he caught me with my "nose in the grass" as my family liked to tell me. After that, I had a conversation with a Gambel's quail. I have a shot of that in my gallery with the complete story. Later, I met a woman who does photography professionally. Here's her web site: Joanne West. She has some really beautiful shots. I found her in the middle of the chuparosa patch. She then told me about the fact that there was brittlebush in bloom all over Silly Mountain, and told me how to get there. Wanting to make it before dark, I tried to hurry a bit, since I was close to the end of my hike anyway, I hoofed it on back. But when I got there, I couldn't figure out where I was (it was an area I hadn't been in, and the map and signs were quite poor). I walked up and down a couple of times, and then began to feel really tired and achy, and I was concerned about getting over to Silly Mountain, so I found a fellow who was a host, and told him I was lost. He tried to explain how to get back, but I wasn't sure I would make it with the directions he gave. So eventually he offered me a ride. I accepted, and the whole way over there, he griped. Apparently this happens a lot. But he got me there, and I thanked him. Then I headed for Silly Mountain. I have to tell you that it is aptly named. Compared to the Superstitions, it's just a hill, so I think they tried to make a mountain out of a molehill. But I got some pictures, and then headed back, and eventually found a Chinese restaurant and had supper. I ordered what I thought was a cup of hot and sour soup, only to be handed a huge bowl. I could have made a meal out of that by itself, but I also ordered some mo shu chicken, and they brought me a heaping plate, eventually. It was the longest wait I think I have ever had in a nearly empty Chinese restaurant. Anyway, the food was delicious, and because of the quantity, I was able to take home leftovers and make two more meals out of it. And then, of course, I came back to my trusty computer.
Joanne and I have become good friends. Even though both of us are amazingly busy, we have managed to find some good time to be together, taking pictures or other interesting things.
Yesterday (I don't remember what day that was), I went to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. On the way, I passed by Kitt Peak. I was reminded of the fact that it is not entirely safe to drive on the roads with crazy drivers. I was in a construction zone where there are only two lanes on I-10, and there was an 18 wheeler on the right, and I tried to pass him on the left. He cut in front of me, and I'll be surprised if there were more than two feet between my front and his behind. He went around the car and pulled in, and I tried to pass him again. He signaled to pull out again, in front of me, so I just sat there behind him until we turned off on another road. Note that trucks are forbidden to pass in that construction zone area. I reported him to 911. You will never know if someone will report asinine behavior, so better behave yourself.
Anyway, the other day when I went by Kitt Peak, it seemed like the wildflowers were largely spent. But yesterday when I went by, the poppies were thick. I also saw other species, particularly owl clover and lupine. Along the road between Kitt Peak and Why, there were intermittent thick strips of flowers, first lupine, then desert mallow, owl clover, and finally, desert marigold, with other things mixed in. In the Monument itself, I saw mainly brittlebush, but the hillsides were covered with it. Look closely, and you will also see lupine, tackstem, fiddlenecks, scorpionweed, poppies, fairy dusters, Esteve's pincushion, desert mallow, rock daisies, chaparral, desert marigold, and London rocket.
If you look very closely at the photo, on the highest peak you can see the famous solar telescope of Kitt Peak.
Santa Catalina Mountains
Yesterday (March 30), I went to Catalina Mountain State Park, located along Oracle Road going to Catalina. Next to the park is Pusch Ridge, which in my opinion has the prettiest spires, cliffs, and crags in the mountains. A few years ago, the Aspen Fire destroyed many of the plants in the mountains. You could see a fire line stretching along the length of the mountains. Fortunately, the mountains have recovered somewhat. We were blessed with some pretty clouds at least part of the time. When I went, I took Sutherland Trail. It's an easy hike, but I have no idea how far in I hiked. By the time I got back, I was tired and sore. Fortunately, it doesn't last! There were not huge stands of flowers anywhere by comparison to other places I have visited, but there were collections of all sorts of things. It was worth the trip.
San Carlos Reservation
April 1 and 2, I was off gallivanting around again! This time I went to five places. It was hectic! I stayed overnight in Phoenix. The first day, I went to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. On the way, US 77, I went through some hills where there were a lot of brittlebushes, and some other flowers, and got some good pictures. I saw the Lutheran church where I once worshiped. Our youth group went there, to Peridot. After the services, the Apaches fed us fry bread, and one of them gave me a small bottle full of peridots. That is one gift I cherish highly. This church is currently affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Good for them! I then got a pass for the reservation, and went looking for the poppies. That was the first time I "got lost". My informant didn't give me adequate directions to the hills where the poppies were, but I found plenty along the roadside. Unfortunately, the ones in the hills had already faded. They had been brilliant orange streaks on the hillsides. After finding it and taking some pictures, I next went to the Salt River Canyon. No flowers there, but the views were wonderful. That night I stayed at a Homestead Inn. I will stay there again. Not only were there a lot of nice restaurants around, but I like the location, and there was a Good Egg right next door so I could get a decent breakfast.
After breakfast, I went looking for Bartlett Lake. And got lost the second time. This time, I relied on Google for directions. Huge mistake! I was supposed to get off 101 at Pima-Princess, but I got off at the first Pima exist, which is what Google showed on the map. It went south. Then I wound up in Scottsdale where there are some very expensive homes: $700,000 for example, and gated communities. I think only one or two streets in the whole area don't end up in dead ends. That little side trip cost me a couple of hours. After that, I thought I better stop and get gas, and a woman there told me exactly where to go, but she sent me through Cave Creek, which is a very interesting little town, but the speed limits aren't very high. I'll visit again at a more leisurely time. Oh wait! They have traffic cameras on 101, and those things are DANGEROUS. So I'll have to figure out another way to get there. I eventually found the lake, and the rolling hills and slopes of taller mountains were covered with brittlebush. As we got close to the lake, there were also chuparosa bushes. After that, I wanted to make it back to the Lost Dutchman State Park, and boy was I glad I did! Hey, if you don't like yellow, you'd be in deep trouble! It was a solid blanket of brittlebush over the slopes. I hiked about three miles again, but this time I didn't get lost. The third time I "got lost" was on the way to the restaurant for supper. I swear, Phoenix was laid out by an engineer with a sadistic streak! I wanted to go west until I reached Central Avenue. The signs said I-10 goes west, and I-17 goes north, which is true, but I-10 turns NORTH before I-17 does, and goes on for a bit. I could have shaved about four miles (two of them city miles) off my drive by taking I-17 instead! I went to the Coyoacan Steak House (because I like their salsa) and then drove home. I was exhausted when I got here, but it was worth it.
Sweetwater Trail, Tucson Mountains
April 6 and 9, I hiked the Sweetwater Trail in the Tucson Mountains, looking for mariposa lilies. I have never seen a dense display of them. The first day, I stopped just short of the place where they were most abundant. They had already closed up for the night, and I was tired. The second day, it was cloudy in the morning and 10 degrees cooler, and that was much nicer. I got sprinkles, but not far away, people got dumped on, complete with thunder. There were a lot of little treasures here and there, so I took a lot of pictures.
This mariposa lily is just unfolding for the first time.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Yesterday (April 15), I went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. My aim was butterflies, but it was hot and windy, and I saw ONE pipevine swallowtail. They're hard to catch anyway, so I went to the hummingbird aviary instead. By the way, they told me it was the first successful one in the United States. They send their babies to other zoos. We have eight species in Arizona, and I have photographed six of them. Yesterday, I saw mostly broadbilled hummingbirds, and one Costa's hummingbird, but he kept sitting in the shade, so I wasn't able to get a good picture of him. Some of the other hummers were drinking from the aloe flowers, so I took quite a few pictures, hoping to catch a good one of a hummer in flight. No luck. In fact, yesterday was One Of Those Days. I guess we all have them, and maybe this is my signal to switch to a different artistic genre. Not that I didn't get anything worthwhile, but it wasn't much. I did get a couple of good photos of a mother on her nest. That was a first. They said there were six nests, and I know I photographed four of them, maybe five. After that, I went over to the other aviary, and got a handful of good pictures there. Given that I took close to 800 pictures, that was pretty pathetic. But I need to learn to use my new camera and lenses effectively, so it will come.
That was then; it is what I wrote at the time. This is now. Arizona has 16 species of hummingbirds at present, and I have photographed 14 of them.
Another report, this time from April 24. I went up to the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum. They have a rare bromeliad there, from Chile, which put up three stalks this year (a first, for them). I wanted to photograph it, among many other things. It turned out to be VERY difficult to photograph well. It was fun to see people who were really serious about their photography doing various unusual things. I had a blast! On the way up, I saw a lot of thistles, so I stopped and took pictures of a few. I found a bee in one, and a bug of some kind in another. Then when I was driving along 60, I noticed that there were still poppies along either side. Blow me away with a feather! The Arboretum contains a demonstration garden with a lot of different kinds of flowers, some from our area, some not. I got some very good pictures of irises. The more times I see them, the more I fall in love with them. So much has been done with breeding. And they had a tall boojum tree (the tallest I have seen in Arizona, because they are from Baja California, and don't grow native here.) And I saw some birds. Got a good photo of one, and a not-so-good of a feeding hummingbird. They're darn hard to photograph in flight! I'll put that one up, but it's not good enough for a print. Partway through the afternoon, Joanne West joined me. After we finished (we left just before they chased us out), we went to a local traditional Mexican restaurant and had dinner. I'm sure we'll keep doing things like this together.
The past few days, I did a little traveling. First I went to Sonoita, with the intention of going both to Parker Canyon Lake and Patagonia Lake. First, I headed for Patagonia, but on the way I saw that the area was receiving heavy rainfall, and that wasn't what I was after this particular trip. I was looking for wildflowers, and I found plenty, though no fields of solid flowers. So I turned back, and headed for Parker Canyon Lake. I saw fewer wildflowers, but I did see some. I was mostly taking pictures of scenery. At one point, I was at a place where the road was really narrow, and I didn't want to stop on the road, so I tried to pull over to the side as far as I could. Next thing I knew, BAM! my front right tire was suspended in space, and I ain't goin' nowhere! So I flagged down the first car I saw, and the driver said she'd help, and before the situation was over, I had several neighbors with three trucks, but no means to pull me out, really, plus two border patrol agents, who were, as always, very nice. One of them called a tow truck for me. It didn't take too long for them to get there, and one fellow put down rocks for the tire so that they would minimize damage. Believe it or not, I sustained NO damage whatsoever! Volvos are darn good, sturdy cars, at least they used to be. Turns out the place where I was, was that beautiful paradise valley I saw before. I got to visit with the neighbors just briefly, and I was on my way. I drove until I got to the end of the pavement, and then I turned back, because there had been rain, and water running across a dirt road means semi quicksand, and I wasn't interested in getting stuck again.
After I went back partway to Sonoita, I saw a road to Elgin, and I was curious, so off I went. I didn't know it, but that is wine country. I passed several wineries with vineyards. I'll have to go back sometime and try their wine tasting. After I got through Elgin, I headed for Sierra Vista.
That's the main building for the Kief Joshua Vinyards in the photo.
Beatty's Guest Ranch
In Sierra Vista, I had a good Chinese buffet dinner, and then headed for my final destination of the day, Beatty's Guest Ranch. What a GORGEOUS place! They're definitely inholders, right smack dab in the middle of national forest. They have six cabins, I think, and I got the one that was most remote. It was lovely! I had the place to myself: two rooms, with a bed and a couch with a pullout, with a futon on it. It had a great front porch, and I wanted to call home with my cell phone. But the reception was better outside, so I went out there, and pulled the door shut behind me, having forgotten I had locked the door, which was easy to do because the handle turned on the inside. Oops! So I used my cell phone to call home and get the Beattys' number, and I had to wait for them to come up and let me back in. The room with the bed also had a composting toilet, which, much to my amazement, had no odor of any kind! It also had a shower and sink, and in the other room, a refrigerator, microwave, and Coleman stove with two burners, and sink and table and chairs. All of that for only $70 a night. It was all powered by solar. I chose the bed and went to bed pretty much immediately, but unfortunately, I didn't sleep the whole night through and I was awake for a couple of hours, which put my getting up time later than I wanted it to be.
Here's a link to the Beattys' web site.
When I first got there, there were yellow evening primroses blooming everywhere, and moths were visiting, so I took pictures. I have one to show you. After I went to bed, I was serenaded by crickets. In the right place in the cabin, I could hear the brook below.
Next morning, I hoped to be up soon enough to catch hummers visiting the primroses, but alas! they had already closed. I did see a canyon wren on my porch, and of course he scolded me. So I ate quickly and went back down to go to their main hummingbird site. They have it set up with very nice benches and a canopy overhead, so I was in seventh heaven. They have something like 15 hummingbird feeders. Boy, those things look atrocious! I am thinking up one that looks reasonable, but is still easy to clean. Maybe I'll get a patent.
The photo is of a white-eared hummingbird. As far as I can recall, their ranch is the ONLY place in the United States where this species visits.
I took about 1400 pictures on my trip, and about 850 of those or so were of the hummingbirds. Unfortunately, most of the feeders were in shadow a good part of the time, so it was difficult to get good pictures. To top it off, the hummers rarely sat anywhere but on the feeders. I used my 100-400mm zoom. There were a number of birders there. A little later on, a fellow with a huge cannon of a lens (600mm, I think) and hefty tripod came, and he was obviously British. He had been published in a number of different places. He talked quite a bit, and gave me a number of tips. He started out as a birder, and then started to take pictures. He had his two daughters with him, and was helping one of them take pictures with his setup. I learned quite a bit just from taking pictures, and from talking to the fellow, and even though I didn't get very many good ones, I intend to go back, and with what I learned, I think I'll do better next time. Well, about the time I was getting really warmed up, and more of the feeders were in sunshine, boom! thunder right on top of us. Twice. So we hightailed it out of there.
Once I left, I decided to drive on back down to Sierra Vista, and I ate at a fine Italian restaurant. Then I drove back. I didn't dally much, because there was weather all around, so picture taking opportunities weren't real plentiful. I got home just as the storm let loose at our place. Once I got home, the power went off! It didn't stay off for long, though.
The photo is a blue-throated hummingbird. That is another hummer that seldom shows up anyplace else.
Parker Canyon Lake
On the way back
The last couple of days, I went to Sonoita and past, to Parker Canyon Lake. I had the idea that Parker Canyon Lake was a huge vacation area, so I deliberately avoided it on the weekend. I couldn't have been more wrong! It's an intimate little lake, and when I did go, I saw two RV's and maybe 5-6 fishermen. That was it. I saw several kinds of birds there: grackles, ducks, moorhens. Someone told me that someone had thrown in a bunch of bass, I think he told me. They're cold water fish, but apparently the lake is deep enough so that it gets cold in the lower depths, so they're doing fine. I will have to see if I can come up with a fishing pole of some kind, because I love to fish. The altitude of the lake is high enough for evergreens and grasslands, so it will be at least ten degrees colder than where I live, if not more. I'll have to check it out and see if it snows there. Sonoita is little more than a wide spot in the road. It used to be on the way to Fort Huachuca, which is an Army base, but there is a new road. I actually went on two different days. The first day, I went all the way to the lake. My friend, who told me about the valley along the way, said look for large animals to photograph, and sure enough, there were two mule deer at the side of the road. They were not even particularly wary of me. I first took a picture as soon as I could, just in case, and then moved closer, in my car. One of them walked off, but the other one stayed there and watched me for a long time. I took lots of pictures of her. I finally felt satisfied, and I left, and she was still there! I also saw a small quail but couldn't get a decent picture. There were several, but they didn't hang around. On my way back, I finally saw the lone tree! I have been looking for a lone tree to photograph for a very long time. It was already after sunset, and when I got home, I discovered ALL my shots were blurry. So I went back the next day and got some good pictures. I also retook some of the others, because most of mine came out too dark the first day. So I have wanderlust again, and will probably take off for some other venue next week.
I started my first web site in 1999. It has thousands of pages. I hand-code all my pages in WordPad. This site contains many different topics. On my side, I have music, art, religion, pro-life, martial arts, politics, interesting emails, thousands of links, homeschooling, health, and free backgrounds. On my sister's side, there is genealogy information, and information about Down Syndrome.
I have information on my site in more than 140 languages. Languages are something I am intensely interested in.
You can see Seghea here.
The photo is by my friend Joanne West.
My second web site is my professional site, Extraplicity. It contains quite a few image galleries, as well as other information. There is a section on the uses of Sonoran Desert Plants, and a section on our web design services.
The logo i use on the site was a gift from a friend, Alan Bennington. He designs such images for businesses, combines them with a creative domain name, and then sells the package. His web site is Boxed Brands.
A Few Other Things
I also make digital art. This is when I get an inspiration and get stuck doing it, or when I can't go out and drive all over creation.
Among the other things I do are fractal art, abstracts, digital landscapes, and more work on web sites. I have another one in the works, but all I have so far is a splash page.
I will be putting up Lenses about all of this as time permits. But that's all for now.