Four Days, Fifteen Artists, Death Valley

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In March, 2012, after 40 years of enjoying visits and painting Death Valley, I brought in reinforcements in the form of eight artist friends to help me capture the beauty of this magical place.

Marsha Rebstock, Artist Palette

Marsha Rebstock, Artist Palette

The paint-out led me to publish Painting Death Valley to inspire other artists to take up the challenge. The outcome was so rewarding that a return in March 2013 was virtually a no-brainer. I returned this time with 12 friends and two photographers to document the event.

The new book, Painting in Death Valley Again (excerpts below) complements the first and is largely about the artists and their creations during the 2013 trip. While it is intended as a stand-alone document, useful information and photographs for artists reside in the first book and are not repeated here.

Boasting over three million acres and 130 miles long, Death Valley is the largest National Park in the contiguous USA. Great painting venues include ghost towns, canyons, sand dunes, outdoor museums, abandoned mines, and vast, colorful mountain ranges. These scenes exhibit foregrounds, middle grounds, and backgrounds containing interesting shapes, contrasts of hue and value, atmospheric perspective, horizontals and orthogonals, and places for a focus, all of which artists can choose to enhance, minimize or abstract. If you like people in your paintings, capture the occasional tourist in your field of view.  What more could a plein air painter ask for?

Artists worked in a variety of media and styles including watercolor, oil, acrylics, pastel, charcoal, pen and ink, charcoal, and graphite, plus mixed media. Styles ranged from representational to abstract.

All works were painted on location. The artists below are just a few of the talented painters represented. You can also see the work this month (May 2013) at Location 1980 gallery in Costa Mesa.

DV, Robin Theron

Robin Theron, Zabriskie Sphynx: I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am in love with the West and the desert so Death Valley (in the spring and fall) is like Nirvana to me.


DV, Jim Trolinger  Jim Trolinger, Artist Palette: I began painting at the age of 7 and never stopped. My career as a scientist has given me the opportunity to paint in 36 different countries, and Death Valley is still my favorite place to paint.


DV, Steve NakamuraSteven Seizo Nakamura: Death Valley is an experience to behold, a diary of cause and effect. It is a deeply integrated daunting scenery and magnificent geological record. The test as a painter is how to document such incredible beauty with rapid alterations of light. 

 DV, Chris WeberChris Weber, Natural Bridge: Death Valley is magical to me. It’s truly a timeless place if you don’t look at any evidence of civilization. I felt very connected to the beauty of the earth’s turbulent history while painting in such a varied landscape.


DV, Sharon RawlinsSharon Rawlins, Left Behind: A place of incredible scenery…. Ancient. Other worldly. Unvarnished. And starkly beautiful. An overwhelming variety of shapes and textures and patterns complemented by wonderfully nuanced colors, it is at once a daunting challenge and satisfying experience. And the night sky is beyond beautiful.


DV, Teresa RooneyTeresa Rooney, Natural Bridge. The silence. The vast open space. The drama of light and shadow moving across the landscape. Capturing the feeling on canvas, documenting my adventures in a language that goes beyond words, that’s where I find pleasure.


DV, Scott Ludwig

Scott Ludwig, Artist Palette: Death Valley sunsets are among the most beautiful in the world; they paint a palette with boundaries that stop only at the horizons of ones imagination.


To view or order the book send $45 plus $5 shipping to Jim Trolinger.

Also, this month (May, 2013) see the Death Valley paintings at Jesse Fortune’s Location 1980  gallery in Costa Mesa.

For more on author and artist Jim Trolinger see:


Artist Laureate, by Steven Nakamura. A portrait of Jim Trolinger at Zabriskie Point.

Artist Laureate, by Steven Nakamura. A portrait of Jim Trolinger at Zabriskie Point.





3 comments for “Four Days, Fifteen Artists, Death Valley

  1. FANTASTIC work from this paint-out! I’m so happy to have seen some of these works in person. Please join us in November to showcase your artwork at the Western Art Show @ Death Valley ’49er Encampment!

  2. Hi Heidi,

    Thanks for your note on Jim’s article. The Death Valley 49ers are a goldmine of desert art history. I’ve been talking to Bill Bender about the early days of the DV art show and will post an article about the 49er artists, past and present, in the future.


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