Contemporary Paintings of the Geology of Western American Deserts

Rain Shadow Geology Paintings

Deserts are usually created because they are located in a Rain Shadow – a dry region downward of mountain ranges caused by air losing its moisture as it passes over the mountains. About one third of the Earth's landmass is desert or semi-arid desert. These regions have unique geological features not found in more humid environments. These features are often caused by water and wind erosion which deposit and move sediment, rock, silt and sand in exposed and sculptural fashion. Geological time is exposed in the desert. You can touch a rock that is almost as old as the Earth itself, hunt for shell fossils from the ocean it once was, dig for gems and minerals that only occur in this unique setting.

My Desert paintings are influenced and inspired by travels into the Great Basin desert of America that spans about 1100 miles between Colorado's Western Slope (of the Rockies)  and end at the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Nevada Range. I focus on two aspects of the desert terrain. 1) PLAYA CROSSINGS: the wide angle, panoramic horizontal view focusing on light, space and ridge lines and 2) DESERT ROCK: the close up texture and shapes of the unique rock features.

Granite Ridge, 2015. Sarah Winkler

Granite Ridge, 2015. Sarah Winkler

Art of the Playa Crossings

A vast, spectacular empty space between the place I stand now and the mountain forms looming on the horizon line often shimmering and reflected in a mirage sensation. To me, this use of a wide angle, panoramic perspective, highlights the gap dividing what is known and unknown; The hidden geology below ground, the boundary horizon line between present and future, the journey toward terrain that is unfamiliar. I think any traveler, immigrant, fortune seeker, pioneer can relate to the sensation of moving toward a place you have no idea of the outcome and the adventurer yearns for the chance to discover something new about the terrain, oneself, the infinity of nature.


Garden of The Gods, 2016. Sarah Winkler

Garden of The Gods, 2016. Sarah Winkler

Art of Desert Rock

The Earth lifted, carved, twisted, beaten, ravaged by wind, water, ice, rain and sun. A terrain scorched and molded into new forms. The sculpture of rock. This dry ocean evaporating into an elegant mosaic of dust clouds and rock pillars. That's how I see it, feel it and paint it.


New Work Coming Soon in 2017

I have many desert paintings planned for creation in 2017. I hope you stay tuned and see the next incarnation of this endlessly fascinating subject that's close to my heart and experiences emigrating Out West.

Available Desert Paintings

I have several completed desert paintings available for purchase. Please check this list of available works and their gallery location if you are interested in becoming a collector of this series.