Desert Gateway - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Desert Gateway" Colored Pencil

Offering sanctuary from the furnace of sweltering heat, a chain of blue mountains streaks across the background of a fiery landscape. The desolate environment is stark, harsh and lonely.

Despite its beauty, the desert is a brutal place that can bring your demise at any moment. Not only is the severe climate and rugged terrain a problem but a sudden snake bite can be deadly.

The wide open space is broken by terraces of escarpment that appear more red as they recede. Applied with precision, smooth gradations mask the rugged nature of this rocky netherworld.

The bleached shelf in the foreground is bathed in a bright yellow made even more vibrant by the violet shadows. Yet, the most shocking aspect is the shimmering sulphur sky that results from a mid-summer sun.

This non-naturalistic expression is not designed to display superficial accuracy. The arid plateau is too straightforward to tether with complicated details so a more symbolic approach is necessary.

Protruding from a broad ridge, an extraordinary portal to the mountains beckons the lost soul to come closer. This desert gateway is delicately chiseled out of crimson-colored sandstone.

A fine example of natural architecture, the maroon doorway allows passage from this plane of existence to the mountainous region in the next. A lofty realm brimming with cool air, clear water and lush gardens awaits.


  1. Your work is beautiful, Dan.....the essence of spirituality and truth in nature. I first became acquainted with your art in the Ann Kullberg book on drawing landscapes. May I ask....what materials did you use for this latest piece, and how long did it take to complete? Thank you for your inspiring work, your beautiful words, and for always reminding what is truly real and meaningful in this often overwhelming world.

    1. Thanks so much for the nice comments. This drawing depicts the desert landscape near Moab, Utah. I used Prismacolor Pencils and the paper was Strathmore white with a heavy weight and heavy texture. It took a while to complete, probably a couple months. I tend to work slowly because I like to build color with multiple layers and that takes time. Good luck and thanks again! ~ Dan


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