Joshua Tree National Park

joshua tree national park
I had the opportunity to visit Joshua Tree National Park this past month and came back with a renewed sense of respect for the beauty that lives around us. 
joshua tree hidden valley trail
There is something humbling about being in a place so large and open and beautiful but also dangerous and harsh. Natural beauty can be inviting and comforting, but always requires respect. Something I believe true, lasting relationships are made of - safety and respect.
rocks in joshua tree national park
We hiked through the rocks and dust of the Hidden Valley and Barker Dam Trails. This place truly didn't feel real. It was if we were on the set of a movie and everything around us was a perfectly placed prop. The deep blue skies that looked painted with wispy white clouds, the stacks of rocks that looked like they had just been dumped there, the prickly plants that you were always aware of, and the sheer size of a place that felt a world away from home. 
cholla cactus garden joshua tree national park
But by far my favorite spot in the park was the Cholla Cactus Garden. The sun was setting behind the mountains around 4pm, and as we entered the garden, it looked as though all the cacti were glowing with white hallows of light. The mountains were purple and pink and orange and again it felt like walking through a sacred place that both invited you to explore and asked you to be careful. 
cholla cactus with sunlight shining through joshua tree national park california sunset
Often when I'm in a new place that inspires me, I just want to observe. I bring some kind of art products with me almost everywhere I go, but many times I never pull them out. I know that I will have photos later, but I want to remember what it felt like to be there. 
cholla cactus california
So many times in life we look at things in a hurry. We judge quickly and forget details. We are usually looking for something in particular, so we can misinterpret what we see to be that thing we were seeking. It's easy to do this with color. Skies are blue, grass is green, tree trunks are brown - but being open to what you see means allowing learning to take precedence over finding. 
cholla cactus garden california joshua tree national park
Suddenly the sun was tucked away behind the mountains and the air was instantly cooler. Our day at Joshua Tree had gone by too quickly. I would love to return to this place one day. I can see why so many are drawn to camp in the park and absorb the beauty of this special place. 
And as January always does, I find some time now to contemplate the beauty I saw in the park and use that inspiration in my studio for new paintings coming soon. 

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