This is a mixed media piece using pastel, acrylic and oil pastel on top of a digital photographic print. Most of the photograph is completely obliterated but it peeks through in the manner of an underpainting here and there. I've coated it with several layers of acrylic gel medium and it looks like I won't need to frame this under glass. I worked hard on figuring that out and I had some mishaps on this I won't repeat but also a fair bit of success. The main thing I want to keep in mind with pastels used in this fashion is to keep using lots of casein fixative and skip the Senneliers. They react too inconsistently with the gel medium. Some colors hold up, some get dark, and some (the reds) practically disappeared! The Nupastels and pastel pencils I worked with were really consistent and behaved the way I expected. The good news is that Sennelier oil pastels over the gel medium worked pretty well so I was able to touch up most of what I didn't like and used a bit of red and black acrylic where needed to touch up the rest.
The inspiration is a patch of sagebrush and wild grass in the desert close to where we lived in Arizona. We walked by this area quite a bit. It's a pretty devastated place where the ranchers dragged a big heavy chain between two tractors to rip the Juniper trees out and left the tree carcasses to rot everywhere. They do this because the cattle like to sleep in the shade under the trees but the branches are too low for the cowboys to round them up on horseback easily. So the cows and everyone else have no shade and the area gets overgrazed and practically bare. The sagebrush is only 2 feet high and are the tallest things around. They provide habitat for tiny animals and snakes, provide shade for the grasses, and hardly grow anywhere else in the area. Where the Juniper is left standing you rarely see them.
In Flower Essence Therapy Sagebrush is useful for healing from devastating life situations where a person winds up stripped bare of possessions or life situations they used to use to define their existence. The plant creates an empty space at its center where animals find shelter. Metaphysically Sagebrush allows a person to detach from their old ways and find that peaceful state of empty consciousness at the core of their being from which to renew.
Related article about Sagebrush Flower Essence: http://healingcommunication.blogspot.com/2010/02/sagebrush-flower-essence-for-when-life.html