Gallery Sixteen: 2013

1999 marked the last public appearance of U.S. Borax Company's iconic twenty mule team. I photographed the team and its big blue wagons underway at Furnace Creek, and found them a fascinating, but nearly impossible subject to paint. But in 2012 a twenty mule team was again on view in Death Valley, the creation of BobbyTanner (and his father before him, Bob Tanner) a packer and teamster from Bishop, CA. Painting this team successfully absorbed a good part of my time in 2013 and 2014. Again, I found painting them underway impractical. The whole rig — mules plus wagons — is 185 feet long. A side-on composition including the whole of it must be from a distance which does not allow adequate resolution — of all the legs, for instance, or details of harness. While painting it at an oblique angle, coming or going, blurs a double row of same-colored animals into one gigantic, twenty-headed, eighty-legged mule. Stitching together numerous sequential telephoto shots is impractical also, because the perspective is constantly changing,