Tag Archives: Photography

Weekly Art Challenge: VAN GOGH

Hey Folks!

This week our theme is VAN GOGH! Van Gogh is famous worldwide for his expressive paintings and tragic life. He is a universal favorite for art lovers.

 

DylanThe Ear Selfie, Special effects and instagram

I love this! If Van Gogh was around today, I imagine his famous post ear-cutting self portrait would have look something like this! Only Dylan could make you envious of her mangled ear and blood splattered throat selfie!

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Karri – Sunflowers, acrylic on canvas

 “Van Gogh’s Sunflowers have always captured my attention. I love that he painted them to decorate a room for his friend Gauguin. The sunflowers in Provence must be stunning. Wish sunflowers around here were just as plentiful.”

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers are beautiful and one of his most iconic pieces! I love Karri’s loose painterly brushstrokes and soft color palette, she did a beautiful job capturing the spirit of Van Gogh and charm of sunflowers. I don’t think there is a person who can look at a a sunflower and not feel a little bit happier.  🙂

 

Karri Van gogh

 

Bethany

“My rough interpretation of Van Gogh’s Skull with Burning Cigarette. Only I gave him a sweet tea with lemon and a little umbrella, which oddly looks like a flower.”  

If I were a skull, I’d prefer the sweet tea over the cigarette too! I love the personal and cultural (nothing beats Southern sweet tea!) twist to one of Van Gogh’s early and probably lesser known works, but what I like most is that Bethany decided to tackle the skeleton. Most people prefer to avoid drawing skeletons, they can be intimidating subjects. Bethany went for it  and with beautiful contour lines. Great job Bethany!

 

bethany van gogh

 

Emily – Quotes, monotype prints on paper.

“Here are my Van Gogh entries, my first layer of printing went well, then the yellow didn’t! Then I just ran with it anyway creating some strange messy pieces mixed with Van Gogh quotes, not technically amazing pieces but I kinda like the messiness!”

The prints are messy and I like that about them too! The messiness, in my opinion, gives off an energy similar to that of Van Gogh’s thick, bold and animated strokes. The composition, color choices and quotes remind me of street art. I can visualize these pieces becoming wheatpastes around a city. As a humorous thought, the blue piece looks like the sunflowers are growing out if Van Gogh’s head. Its as if his thoughts/dreams can no longer be contained within his head and are now becoming hair!

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AmberDandelions, Acrylic washes and graphite on paper

I loved Van Gogh’s artwork as a kid. He was the first artist that I learned about in grade school and was able to recognize when shown his artwork; this was a major thrill and feeling of accomplishment for a seven year old me.

For this week’s challenge I wanted to create a piece that was inspired by one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings, Sunflowers. Karri and I must be kindred Van Gogh spirits!

I painted dandelions (surprise!) in a teacup. Dandelions being my equivalent to his sunflowers and of course the teacup instead of a vase made obvious sense for me. Instead of painting with his preferred thick brushstrokes I chose to work in the muted washes that I lean toward. This piece felt like a collaboration between me and an artist that I greatly admire.

 

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Next week’s theme: SPACE

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Weekly Art Challenge: DETERMINATION

Hey Folks!!

This week’s theme is DETERMINATION and it appears that we all were feeling determined to complete something of importance.

RJ – CowAcrylic on Canvas

RJ is determined to create a large-scale acrylic painting of this sweet jovial cow! He is in the beginning stages and doesn’t want to rush the process – slow painting is part of the goal – but will keep us informed as he goes! and THAT FACE! Who doesn’t want to be nuzzled by such a face? The bold choice of colors compliment the cheerful persona of this cow and the perspective creates an intimate connection between the viewer and subject. Can’t wait to see it finished!

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Karri – Prayer

“I posted this sculpture in a previous post when it was in its beginning stages. It has taken months to get to this point and is still not complete. There have been days when I look at it and think, “it’s made of paper, and I could just set it on fire!” Lol. Having said that I am determined to make it work.”

Wow, this piece has come along since the first time we saw it! She still so intense and focused internally, that I almost want to tip toe around her so as not to disturb her. I imagine that the intensity and focus felt by myself and other viewers is a reflection of the determination Karri is feeling while creating her. Don’t burn her, Karri! She is just as determined as you! Another piece that I can’t wait to see finished! 🙂

karri determined

 

Bethany – Determination – Pencil on Paper

“There are many things I’m determined to have, to complete or keep up in my life. Things like getting the dishes done, keeping the toilets clean, homeschooling my son and being a wife. But there is one thing WE have been determined to have….another baby. So this is my baby in the womb, holding my heart cause it’s my greatest determination.” 
There is a lot of love and longing in Bethany’s piece and statement. I like how her determination for her family to grow is expressed with a clear drawing of the child holding a meticulously shaded whole heart and surrounded by undetermined scribbled lines. The scribbled lines representing in once sense the womb and internal spark of her desire and determination, but in another sense the scribbled lines also express that little else is as important to her than both present and future members of her family. Lots of luck with your determination! Any child born into a creative loving family is a lucky soul! 🙂

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EmilyMan, Acrylic on Canvas Board

“A while back I started a painting to practice painting skin because I was awful at it, today and thanks to this challenge, I FINALLY finished it like I had wanted to. This challenge was me being determined, and thank you whoever chose this theme because I really don’t think I wouldn’t have finished it without feeling determined to do so for this challenge! aha”

Painting skin can be one of the most stressful accomplishments for an artist! Emily’s work since joining our group has continually and happily surprised me.  Just when I think I have a grasp on her evolving style she presents us with a piece that exhibits her growing talent in a different direction. I love the man’s facial expression. You see an elderly man with wrinkles, thinned hair and aging spots; but his eyes and countenance express an observant and youthful mind. Great Job!

Emily determined

 

Amber –  Nadia (Mix media on paper) and National Parks (Photographs)

This week was particularly hectic for me. I was making my final work-trip to Southern Utah and I was working nonstop on the final piece (Nadia) for a portfolio I needed for a residency application. My determination to complete the piece in time for the deadline was a success by three days! Yay me!!

Nearby our job-site are a few national parks and I was determined to see as much as I could before work took me away from this magnificent landscape – its not often that I am in this area of the country. I didn’t get to go on the long day hikes as I hoped, but I did succeed in seeing a clear view of the La Sal Mountains from where I stood at Balancing Rock – the first time I was there the mountains were hidden by clouds. I also drove through the CanyonLands and got a small taste of the adventures that I could have, since I am determined to visit again. AND I finally saw Newspaper Rock. I have seen photos of it for years, and saw the sign every time I passed the entrance to Canyonlands. I am fascinated by petroglyphs and the nameless artists who created them thousands of years ago.

 

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Nadia

 

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La Sal Mountains from Balancing Rock in Arches.

 

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Driving into Canyonlands

 

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Newspaper Rock

 

Next theme: VAN GOGH!!


Weekly Art Challenge: DISTANCE

Hey Folks!!

This week our theme is: DISTANCE

RJ – Three Bridges, Photograph

RJ’s photograph reminds me that distance is quiet and sometimes peaceful, like a day in the park; and gives us the space needed to see the full picture. The three bridges along the canal are spaced apart and each with their own story, yet they are connected by the flowing water of the canal and together they form the fuller picture seen from a distance.

rj distance

 

Karri – Heart, Collage on Paper

“This week I used pieces of torn maps of all the places my loved ones are, spanning 4 states. Though it might seem like a great distance, they all seem to fit nicely on this piece of paper.”

I love the puzzle aspect of the torn map pieces “fitting nicely” together, despite the distance between the people represented by each piece. The people that love you will always love you no matter where you are on the map.

karri 0 distance

 

Emily – Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, mix media

“Heres my entry for this week. My partner recently left for university, so yeah that’s what this is about “
Emily’s piece reflects the distance of the heart and it pulls the viewer into feeling that distance with her. I like the transparency of the faces over the map. Seeing the lines and shapes beneath facial expressions further suggests that distance is more than space between two points, but also an emotion.
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Amber – Wanderlust, instagram photograph

This was a somewhat difficult challenge for me. I had too many ideas shifting around inside my head. The concept of distance is both spatial and emotional for me, and the two are tightly connected in various ways.

When I was seven my mother allowed a rainbow “priest” named Blue to bless me. His blessing (or prediction, depending on how you look at it) was that I would forever wander, that I would find plenty and nothing at all – or something along those lines. He also gave me a piece of glass made from lightening striking the ground and told me I would eventually lose it, I did.

I travel a lot, both for work and for pleasure. The happiest years of my life are those with distance covered, the most depressing years are those that were stagnant. The people I love the most in the world are scattered all over it, I am never near enough of them. But, I can’t stop moving about because that is when I will feel the distance from everyone and emotionally shut down.

This is a theme that I plan to return to and fully explore in the future, but for now I present a photograph of an antique toy car, an old map of Denver, postcard of Wyoming and a tiny teacup – representing me – to represent the time, emotion and spatial aspects of distance in a way that is connected to me.

 

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Next challenge is a two week challenge and the theme is: OCEAN!

Thanks for stopping by!


Who The Hell is Amber Palecek??

A couple of weeks ago a friend, David Jett, wrote a post about my Rural Decay series for the website Hijack Your Head! its always an honor when someone wants to share your passion with their viewers because they love it as much as you do. Its been a long time since I added anything new to the blog, despite the plethora of new abandoned discoveries I have found this and last year. I am definitely feeling the inspiration to write more of my Rural Decay adventures!

 

http://www.hijackyourhead.com/2014/07/who-hell-isamber-palecek.html


Alaska – Meeting our Deck-mates!

May 18th – Day 2 of our adventure!

BC coastline

BC coastline

Robert and I have become comfortably settled on our lounge chairs under the warm solarium heaters and taking in the peaceful and stunning views of the British Columbian coastline. This is the ultimate way to travel to Alaska. Great views, good company and large picnic basket of treats!

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British Coastline

Last night we began meeting our deck neighbors. They were a unique group of people. We had elderly couples moving to Alaska for retirement, a family of 12 musically talented kids on tour, students, more musicians, adventurous types from New Zealand to France and so forth. Everyone had a story.

 

Under the solarium

Under the solarium

First there was a man named Greg. He set up camp next to us on the first night and immediately began talking about his life, his past adventures and the new adventure he was about to start.  He became a big part of our ferry passage experience. Greg is a great and affable guy. I would love to tell you more about him, but I am saving the next post just for him.

Coastlines

Coastlines

In the café I met our deck mate Bob, a traveling ER Nurse and HAMM radio caller who was one his way to Homer, AK for a three month job assignment. Bob loves his job and is constantly moving about from one city to another working here and there as an ER nurse. He had even spent a year or so living and working in Hawaii while his daughter went to college. I instantly liked Bob. He was a very nice guy and we had many wonderful conversations over the next couple of days on a wide range of topics from travel to social issues. He was helpful enough to tell me all about some RV resources that I might find useful for future road trips and taught me the difference between Star side and Port Side! Which is very handy to know when the captain tells you that there is something of interest on port side to know what the heck port side is!

Oliver and Bob

Oliver and Bob

I also met Oliver, a traveling Frenchman and musician from the Paris area. He took to the family of touring musicians on the deck.  I watched him play his guitar with them a few times. The little boy from the family really liked him and would keep running up to him to show off what he was learning on his instrument. Oliver was really good with him! He also hung out with the girls from New Zealand – I didn’t speak with them much but not from not wanting too. With so many people I just didn’t get to make my way to them. Always missing one another.

Deck tents

Deck tents

We met an older couple who was drunk most of the trip. I don’t remember their names but the older man was a riot! He had a Mohawk with rattail and would repeat every question he asked several times. He talked a lot about his ex wife while his current and younger wife just sat and looked on like she wasn’t hearing anything. Several times he would offer his “Smooth” Brazilian rum. It was as smooth as a cactus plant! The couple was moving to Alaska because it was the man’s goal to return before he was 60 and he was achieving that goal with one day to spare! A few times I told him it was my birthday the day before. Each time he would ask “How old are you”. “34” I would reply and he would always respond “ I have kids older than you”. HAHA He thought Robert and I were a couple, though he would always make it known that it was not any business of his no matter how many times we told him we were only friends. He would ask questions I think just to ask and then forgot he asked them half way through our replies so the cycle would keep going. Must have been that “smooth” rum!  My favorite moment with the old man was when he asked if I met the pastor and I thought he was asking if I had met the bastard! What an awkward moment that was!

 

Coastline

Coastline

Finally there was a young Tlingit youth on hi way home from the lower 48. He was training as a mechanic near Portland, OR. Nice kid. We talked about the totem poles and he answered many questions that I had about how they were created. Impressive stuff, but more on that in a later post!

British Columbia Coastline

British Columbia Coastline

The passage today was good. We did have an hour or two in open water – thank goodness I wasn’t hung over. I don’t know how the Mr Mohawk with the “smooth” Brazilian rum fared in this portion of the trip. I was sober and not enjoying the rocking of the ship. I had to stay in the center of the ship and focus my mind on something other than the rocky movements to keep myself from getting seasick.  It was a short span and then the ship was back in the calmer more narrow channels of water.

 

Later in the day I actually saw whales off in the distance. I tried to tell people but everyone on the deck just looked at me and smiled like I was crazy or speaking in tongues. I don’t know, perhaps I was… There were whales in the distance, Killer whales in fact, but then the young boy from the musical family came over to correct me, actually he schooled me, about the whales not being whales. He said they were actually dolphins. I laughed and knowing not to argue with a 10 year old since they are usually smarter than the rest of us, I said “oh well, I am not from a sea area”. His responded “ well, I am from Minnesota”.  HA! Okay kid, point taken!

A few days later I learned from Bob that Killer Whales are not whales and they are actually a type of dolphin. Perhaps its time to change their names?

Robert

Robert

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Rocky Spruce Islands

Coastlines

Coastlines

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Evening

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View of Solarium

 


Alaska, The Beginning

Alaska sign

Traveling to Alaska was one of the most epic adventures I have ever tackled. It took me over a year to plan a month long  trip and was originally meant to be myself with three other people in a rented car tramping freely around the state. I can’t even give a number to how many times a route had to be changed or someone would drop out or to come to realization that one of my bucket list stops was not going to be possible during this trip. There were moments when I swore that I was never going to figure out the Alaska Marine Highway schedule – tip: skip the website and call the AMHS office!

AM 17 ferry shadow

My shadow!

In the end it was simply me, my friend Robert, my xterra – Teddy the Bean – and Alaska, my 49th state. It was perfect and better than planned!

the ferry

The columbia

The epic adventure began with a three thousand mile cross country trip from hometown, New Jersey to Seattle, Washington. Five days driving west, admiring the changing landscape, two mini Montana adventures and three friendly hitchhikers before arriving in Seattle to pick up Robert who was flying in from Florida. The first thing Robert said to me when I picked him up was “I hope you are prepared for this, I’m not!” That was when I knew that we were going to have a memorable adventure.

Robert

We made our way from Seattle to Bellingham – the I-5 bridge collapsed a few days after we crossed over it, scary – and spent a day collecting all the camping gear that we both procrastinated to purchase. Our plan was to board the ferry at the Bellingham terminal and enjoy three days of scenic views as we make our way to Juneau. Robert and I both thought it would be better and cheaper to camp under the solarium with other more adventurous travelers and it was the best idea!

Sunset 2

I first met Robert at a 2010 Travbuddy Iceland meet-up in Reykjavik. At the time I didn’t get much of a chance to get to know him, it was a large and rowdy meet up; but I instantly thought he was a really cool guy who clearly knew how to have some fun. He was the first person to accept my invitation to drive to and around Alaska and the only person who stayed when everyone else dropped out. Standing on the 8th deck with Robert and the rest of the solarium campers I knew that it was a blessing that everyone else dropped out. Not because the trip would be less amazing with the others, but I came to realize something that I had missed during past road trips with larger number of people. I realized that traveling with a larger group almost and unintentionally cuts you off from everyone else around you. Robert and I were able to mingle more with locals and other travelers because it was only two of us. We were more approachable and had more time to approach others. Additional people and then we might not have been quite as social. Not rudely anti-social, just more content with our group and maybe less aware of those around us. A smaller group allowed the freedom to make connections outside the group.

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The solarium

Robert and I met many new people on the ship, but I will save that for the next post.

 

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The coast.

 

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Bellingham terminal

AM 17 ferry sunset 3

AM 17 ferry sunset 1


Etsy November Sale!

Hey Folks!

For the month of November I am offering a 10% discount on all purchases from my Etsy shop. PLUS free shipping on custom drawings and paintings until the end of the year!

Portraits of loved ones make great holiday gifts!

Click here for my Palechick Studios Etsy shop and enter the code NOVEMBER2013SPECIAL to redeem your discount at checkout!

 

Untitled

Self Portrait (2011) Mix media on paper

Ginger (2012) Acrylic on Canvas

Ginger (2012) Acrylic on Canvas

Sammy (2012)

Sammy (2013) Acrylic on canvas

 

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RJ (2013) mix media on paper


Simon

This was our Simon. My sweet loving “piglet” as I liked to call him.

About a week ago our family had to make the hard decision to put him to sleep. He was 15 years old, covered in cancerous tumors and having seizures. We know it was for the best, but never is it easy to say goodbye to a member of the family. His portrait, a gift for my mom, was one of the first I painted after years and years of not painting anything. I nicknamed him the Piglet because my mom kept him well fed and when he would run his white fur would become a brilliant pink from the exercise. My folks nicknamed him The Prince, because he did what he wanted in his last few years, house rules be damned!  If there was a spot on the couch it was his, if there was a need for a ‘cookie’ he got it, and if he wanted to get up at 2 am to go outside and enjoy his ‘domain’ from the porch he did.

Simon was a great dog. He was pit bull that was so naturally friendly and sweet he manage to change many people’s views about pit bulls. In his entire life there was maybe 3 people he did not like near his family, but everyone else was okay especially if they had a ‘cookie’ for him or just gave him attention. He loved his toys. His favorite was popped basketballs and a ginormous bone that he would run around the house with trying to temp my dad to play “where’s your bone”. He was great with kids, mostly because he learned early that kids are more generous with their food than us stingy adults. And he could clear the house with his endless supply of farts.. Oh My Lord could he shamelessly clear a house. He hated thunderstorms and fireworks, poor thing would shake like a leaf and cry. He often told on my nieces or our other dog, Maggie, when they did something wrong and he knew it! lol he was such a hall monitor. And because I would never give into his begging for my food he switched tactics and would look at my mom with his “I’m hungry mom and she won’t share” look while standing in front of me. Never worked but he did it every time. He was great dog.

He was the cutest little puppy and an important member of our family for for 15 years. We will miss you always, Simon, farts and all.

Simon

Simon 9×12 acrylic on canvas board

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Simon circa 2006

Simon and the ball

Simon and his Ball, 2011

Simon snuggling up on the couch Christmas of 2012


Mt St Helens National Volcano Monument

Work has taken me out to the West coast. While I was visiting the West my sweet loving nieces, having learned that I was only a hop, skip and jump away from Mt St Helen’s National Volcano Monument, requested that I go and take some photos for them. This was the first time either of my nieces have made a specific travel related request – besides “can you wait for us before going to Australia?” –  and in the spirit of supporting their own desires to travel and see the world I made and kept my promise.

Silver lake

Silver lake

The day started out as foggy and grey as any late Autumn day in the Pacific Northwest. In the morning, when I peered out the hotel window, my heart dropped and hopes of fantastic views quickly diminish; but I am stubborn and was determined to go for the sake of keeping a special promise.

This was my second attempt, the first was unsuccessful due to foggy damp weather and my father not knowing where to go. For my more successful attempt I took the Northern route, Rt 504. I was still unsure about the quality of views, but I knew that my nieces were counting on me and I reminded myself several times that I had NOTHING else to do. Views or not, this was much better than spending another day in the hotel room with nowhere to walk.

Feet!

Self portrait with Mt St Helen’s

In hindsight I should have just driven all the way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, but I couldn’t help myself and stopped several times at several visitor centers along the way. Most of the centers, including the Johnston Ridge Observatory, were closed this late in the season; but I still found the informative plaques to be engaging.

St Helens VIII

Ridge trail

With each mile the sky and views became clearer and more stunning. At one point the scenery was too amazing for me not to pull over into the viewpoint pullout to take some photographs. It was here I met a lovely couple, the Schindlers, who had forgotten their camera at home and none of us could figure out how to work his camera phone. They had decided to get out of the house and have a little adventure of their own. I didn’t want them to leave the national monument without any photos, especially since the grayness from earlier had passed and the view was spectacular. The Schindlers wrote an email address down for me and Mrs Schindler gave me a warm hug before we parted ways.

SH XXI

Prior to reaching the J.R Observatory I turned onto a road to view Coldwater lake – one of the lakes formed by the 1980 eruption. I quickly found the trail that eventually led to a boardwalk walkway over the lake. The view was of course gorgeous. The water was smooth and clear as ice. Fortunately for me there were plenty of benches to perch myself and take in the landscape. I met another individual who once worked for the National Forrest Service and lived nearby when the 1980 eruption occur. We talked briefly about the eruption and how the Coldwater lake was formed and took about six years to transform from a murky muddy mess into the clean and peaceful body of water before me.

coldwater lake

Coldwater Lake

Finally, I set out for the final Observatory. As I am pulling out of the parking lot I see the Schindlers flagging me down. They wanted to warn me about the snow on the road and to be careful. So sweet! The road was not that bad, not for my car with brand new tires and 4WD. I was surprise to see so many people at the observatory. There didn’t seem to be as many on the road today. The air was colder than it was just a few miles away at the lake. The landscape was incredible! I am not sure, but I think I was maybe 3.5 straight miles away from Mt. St. Helen’s.

Shadow

Shadow fun on the ridge trail

I was told by many that Mt St Helen’s was amazing, I expected it to be “pretty” and “cool”, but this was beyond my imagination. I saw a paved walkway that went up to a higher viewpoint. so up I went. From there I noticed the walkway continued and became a dirt path. I continued following. Eventually I left the Observatory behind with its crowd of visitors and was walking along the mountain ridge with Mt St Helen’s on my right. I couldn’t stop myself, not yet at least. I must have walked about three miles out before I had to force myself to turn around. The sun was 45 minutes from setting and I didn’t have a flashlight with me to help navigate the trail at night, though I don’t think it would have been difficult.

St Helens Night

When I made it back to the observatory I noticed my phone had bars and that I could call my sister and speak with my nieces. I spoke with them as the sun went down, telling them about my day and making more promises to take them on adventures when they are older. My one niece asked “when I am, like 22, maybe I can call you and we could go some place. Can I?” . I assured them that they can ALWAYS call me and that we will go many places in the future. Love those sweet girls.

Night View

Night view

St Helens IX


The Badlands, South Dakota

Last week while I was driving West from a wind farm near Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the Washington coast for our next job, I passed by the Badlands for the first time in years.

The Badlands, located in Western South Dakota along I-90, are one of the most colorful and beautiful natural spaces in the American States. It took me two attempts to see this wonderful place the last time and it was painful to not have the time to stop for another visit this time around. You can briefly glimpse some of the eroded buttes from the interstate, but will not see enough to satisfy a craving.

Feeling a bit nostalgic about my earlier trip to the Badlands, and suddenly realizing that many of my photos from that visit are probably gone thanks to a cruel hard drive failure over two years ago, I decided to go through every photo file I had backed up and eventually through my Google Picasa account. Thankfully Picasa had a copy of every photo that I had posted on a former  blog of mine. Though I didn’t post everything, but I did post a few images and looking through those precious few I could feel myself back in the national park. It was a bright sunny day, the park had plenty of visitors but not too many, and I was in awe of everything that I saw.

While taking in the view from above there was a golden eagle, my first, soaring above the landscape. There were these giant silvery poofs that looked like prehistoric dandelions  all over the park. And of course there was the magnificent display of color in the rock formations from the various type of rock material packed together in tight layers. Each layer representing a different time in the long geological history of the region.

If you should ever go to this wonderland then you must go when the weather is lovely and the sky is blue to really appreciate the color. This is not a visit for bleak grey days. Its also a perfect place to bring a portable watercolor set.