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Painting with the palette of Oregon's High Desert

Posted by Gena Goodman-Campbell at Jul 18, 2012 03:50 PM |
Artist Nancy Pobanz explores the inspiration and raw materials that she draws from Oregon's High Desert.

Contributed by Nancy Pobanz


Growing up in rural Ontario, Oregon, I did not appreciate the arid landscape while living there; in fact, I wanted desperately to live someplace green.  At the age of 45 it finally occurred to me that my childhood setting has subconsciously been a consistent influence for a long time.

Oregon Desert Pallete
Oregon Desert Palette 1997 – 2010 (collection of the artist). Media: found wood box, re-used glass vials, earth pigments collected in Oregon's High Desert.
Photo: Lightworks Photography

Now, while revisiting that magnificent terrain, I collect earth and rock samples and photograph the exposed landscape.  I pay attention to what was so ordinary and expected - and study it with fresh eyes, every trip being different than the last.

I make many of my art supplies from raw materials gathered while exploring this arid land.  This provides a direct connection to the source of my inspiration.

I use rocks and earth to grind into pigments, plant matter to twist into cordage for stitching or for making into paper to incorporate as layers in the work.  Thin, strong paper is tinted with inks, written upon, and layered  After writing, concealing the words is intended to obscure and release the written thoughts and to allow the piece to take on a life of its own.

The materials are used for their color, texture, blending characteristics - and earthiness; the underlying issue or topic of the piece guides all the material selection.

My current work, with selected pieces shown below, was inspired by my explorations of the wild landscapes of Oregon's High Desert.


All Told

2011; (private collection); 12" x 36"
Media: Summer Lake earth pigment, acrylic inks on canvas
Inspired by the constantly changing atmospheric conditions of Summer Lake.
Photo: Lightworks Photography


2008; 15" x 30" 
Media: SE Oregon earth pigments, miscellaneous papers and re-used fabric, acrylic ink on canvas.
Inspired by roadcuts exposing some of Oregon’s best geology and earth pigments.
Photo: Lightworks Photography



2009;  4" x 40" 
Media: Alvord Desert earth pigment, reused linen garments (with seams), graphite on canvas 
Inspired by sitting dead-center in the total silence and lifelessness of a completely dried up Alvord Desert.
Photo: Lightworks Photography


Abert Rim
Abert Rim

2005;  (private collection); 12" x 24"
Media: SE Oregon earth pigments, re-used teabag paper, waxed linen thread, colored pencil, acrylic inks on canvas 
Inspired by petroglyphs on Abert Rim.
Photo: Lightworks Photography


To see more of Nancy Pobanz's work and read more about her techniques, please visit

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Ellen Mendoza
Ellen Mendoza says:
Jul 18, 2012 06:55 PM

Beautiful interesting works.

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Oregon Natural Desert Association
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