Joshua Tree

I spent the first week of the new year in a sketcher’s paradise. The high desert and alien landforms of Joshua Tree National Park.

As a subject, this almost 800,000 acre park, can seem overwhelming with amazing views and vistas everywhere you look. So where does a sketcher start? I just had to pick a landform and start sketching. It can be impossible to capture every single detail of the eroded rock of Joshua Tree so I use a bit of short-hand where the sketch can almost have a gestural quality. These warm up sketches helped prepare me for sketch the park’s namesake, the serpentine Joshua tree.

These trees are the symbols for the Mojave Desert, made world famous by the band U2 and their multimillion selling album Joshua Tree (1987) which featured a Joshua tree in the albums’s artwork. Musicians and artists have alway been attracted to this part of California. (More about Gram Parsons in a later post).

What follows are a few of the sketches from my Joshua Tree sketchbooks.


A rock formation near Skull Rock which I named “Puzzle Rock”.


A rock outcrop at Quail Springs sketched on a very windy late afternoon.


The puzzle-like Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) sketched while taking a break from looking for the Le Conte’s thrasher at Quail Springs.

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