This painting began in my head a year or so ago when I bought this "Flying Saucer". I immediately thought of my childhood, when constant UFO sightings were reported from different deserts in the southwest. As kids we'd go outside and stare into the night sky and try to spot an alien invader. With this canvas, I want to show a funky 'motor court' on a lonely road in the middle of the desert. Its whimsical 50's signage invites passers-by to steer off course and "Rocket Inn".

Here's another tin toy spaceship that will grace the parking lot or the sky around the "Rocket Inn".

I've passed by the "C-VU" Motel hundreds of times on El Camino Real in south San Clemente, but just last week it caught my eye. I started visualizing what it would look like with all of its surroundings removed and with all the 'right stuff' accompanying it. I'll have to remove everything in the photo except for the foreground building, and I'll have to extend the 'motel room' part so that it will accomodate a few more 'travelers'.

I built this sign to go out in front of the motel. I studied some vintage signage which helped me come up with this design.

I taped a stick to the bottom of the flying saucer so that I could see what it looks like 'floating in the air'...

I've begun to draw the motel onto the canvas.

I'm extending the rooms of the motel off the right side of the canvas.

I've decided to start with the motel sign. I have adjusted the perspective from the photo I took.

Here is the sign with its first passage of paint. I will add the neon tubing and its shadows when this has dried in a few days or so.

I've painted the 'basics' of the flying saucer, leaving some of the detail for when it dries a little. I also left some areas in the cockpit 'dome' until I know what the color of the sky will be.

Here's the entire canvas. I put in the two objects that either project into or are in the sky. This will tell me how dark to paint the sky. I will also be drawing in the figure of a man reading a newspaper, while sitting in a chair in the parking lot, just outside the office.

I painted the sky with a gradual 'dark to light' from top to bottom and put in the silhouette of the furthest mountain range. Notice how the color of the mountain range is very close to the same color as the darkest part of the sky.

I 'lapped' the forground mountains over the distant ones, making them a warmer blue-violet. The mountain on the left has a lot of atmosphere present as it goes down to the desert floor, making the blue-violet transition into a warmer tone.

Here's a look at the 'motel manager'...

I've drawn him in just outside the office in the parking lot. I also drew in another metal 'clam style' chair. I've also begun to paint the motel with a pinkish coral color with a dark matching trim.

I've painted the doors with a turquoise hue.

I'll attack the windows next.

Here's the motel, windows and all. I'll work on the man in the chair next.

Here he is, reading the newspaper.

The parking lot 'car' is painted.

I roughed in the desert.

And now the entire painting is 'blocked in' with its first passage of paint.

I've begun to put the detail in the neon sign. I've designed the neon tubing around the rocket and put in its corresponding cast shadows. This is pretty intense painting with a double 0 sable brush to put the neon tubes in there with the tubes having both a highlight edge and a shaded edge. I'll continue to move down the sign and add the neon tubing on the various lettering.

Here's a detail of the sign and...

another close-up of the marquee.

The flying saucer is finished. I'll go to work in the sky next.

Here's the flying saucer with the sky finished behind it.

And the entire canvas, showing the finished sky.

I've painted the distant mountains and have begun to work on the motel building.

In this photo and the one below you can see the texture or thickness of the paint application on the roof and...

in the mountains and sky. Hey, there's that 'Color TV' antenna.

The pinkish wall and the sunlit areas of the trim are done. The cactus and the interior of the windows are next.

I haven't put the final coat of paint on the man reading the newspaper, but have painted all around him.

I painted the cactus in the front of the motel fairly loosely.

As well as the desert to the left of the motel.

I also lightened up the 'white' areas of the neon sign.

The motel manager and the chair are completed.

This 'motel guest' is finished. Now onto the ground surfaces...

Here's a close-up finished detail showing a portion of the street.

And here's a close-up of the sidewalk, street and the background desert where I enhanced the color a little in the foreground.

"Rocket Inn" is finished. Plenty of vacancies...