The Artwork of
Kevin M. Haller
<< Painting Journal 2011
Next >>

Artwork completed for Great Black Hills Plein Air Paint Out 2011

MT. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, SD (View location of my easel)
October 5
"View from Mount Moriah Cemetery (Deadwood, South Dakota)"
Oil     11x14
Inspiration and Design:
This piece was painted on location up the hill from MT. Moriah cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota.  The historic cemetery resides on a steep mountain over Deadwood and is the final resting place of several Wild Western Notables, including Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane.  I was participating in the 2011 Great Black Hills Paint Out held in Lead-Deadwood.  On this morning, it was predominantly sunny, but bands of transparent cloud formations created a patchwork in the sky.  To position myself for this painting, I walked up through the cemetery grounds to the grave of Seth Bullock.  His grave resides alone about 250 yards up the hill beyond the cemetery.  This premiere grave location befits the town's first Sheriff, and the man that ended the legendary lawlessness.  The vantage point provided an outstanding view of the rugged mountain landscape and the approach of SD Highway 14 into Deadwood.  I could clearly gauge the scale of man relative to the Deadwood mountains.  My objective for this painting was to depict Deadwood in its mountain landscape. 
MT. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, SD (View location of my easel)
October 6
"Storm Over Deadwood"
Oil     11x14
Summary of Place:
This piece was painted near the grave of Seth Bullock as well.  The subject was east from there--presumably to his right.  (See more details about the painting location in the description for the 1st painting above)  On this morning, a large storm front was approaching Deadwood from the west.  The only remaining view of the sky was a small band to the east.  The storm's impact would be felt the remaining 2 days of the painting event, and 3 days total.  It brought a miserable parade of downpours, wild wind, and persistent drizzle.  However, for executing this painting the weather conditions remained agreeable, and the impact of the oncoming storm on the landscape was very inviting to paint.  Across the Black Hills, the forest is actively managed using slash piles to limit fire and insect damage.  These piles of dead wood were frequent in this area.  The foliage was a little past peak from a color perspective, but for painting purposes, it was perhaps optimum as the fallen leaves enabled more distant views. 
Inspiration and Design:
My objective for this piece was to depict a late autumn mountain storm approaching the hills of Deadwood.  The town of Deadwood was named for the dead timber on the surrounding hills.  Some things never change.  I emphasized "dead wood" (slash piles) in the composition, and I purposefully made the tree shapes unstructured and wild to best depict the nature of the Black Hills and this Wild West town.