Wednesday, April 20, 2011


"Palo Duro Overlook" 12" x 16" oil/linen

Palo Duro Canyon is loaded with Texas history
which we won't go into here. It is also a place
many Texas painters put on their bucket lists as
a place to go paint. The canyon offers several
breathtaking overlooks, abundant wildlife and plenty
of red rocks. Not as red as Sedona red, but red
just the same.

This particular overlook is one of the last ones available
as you drive down into the canyon and its about a mile
walk from the parking lot to this point. It is certainly worth
hauling a lawn chair and a couple of cold beers to watch the
sun go down.

On this particular day, after cranking out a small
color sketch I had one of the most unusual wildlife
encounters I can imagine. As I made my way back to my car,
along a very narrow path, headed my way was a twelve point
mule deer buck and his pack of females....about ten deer in
all.They obviously wanted to use the same path I was on so
they just kept coming. I thought for sure they would spook,
but no, they kept heading straight for me until the pack got
about ten yards away and stopped. We stared at each other
for a few seconds and they continued to wait until I stepped
to the side of the trail. And then they strolled right past
me in single file, one by one passing inches away. I even
put my hand out and ran it down the back of the last two.

The male buck stood ten feet past me and when the last
female walked past him he turned and walked away. I
thought for sure I saw him wink at me. Then it occurred
to me that the sun was going down and that it would be
dark by the time I got back to my car and I'm sure I
smelled like fresh deer. Thoughts of being dinner for a
mountain lion suddenly occupied my every thought. I'm
not sure but I think the last 100 yards to my car was in
a full sprint with turpentine sloshing and paper towels flying.
I'm too old for this kind of stuff.

A couple of my new friends at Palo Duro.


bemurphy said...

Rusty...I love this painting and I love Palo Duro. I am going there next month with Sonya Terpening to paint. I am so excited about it. I don't expect to turn out work this beautiful, but expect what I learn from the experience to be priceless.

Pam Holnback said...

Such great light and values! I've been to Palo Duro twice. Once w/ a painting group for 2 days and once w/ only a little time to photograph and hike. It's so unknown!