Saturday, April 30, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air Painting Retreat

I'm now back from the Grand Canyon plein air painting retreat - and freshly-scrubbed after a hot shower.  We camped the whole time, and you campers know what it's like to get home to your own shower.  Camping was definitely the way to go, as it immersed you in the landscape.

Except for a couple of windy days, the weather couldn't have been better.  Nights were cool, with a low of 26 one morning, and days were moderate in the 50s to 60s.  With the sun out and a lee spot to paint in, life was good.

The Grand Canyon is much easier to paint if you take a viewfinder with you.  Getting lost in the canyon is nearly guaranteed without one.  Each of us had a viewfinder, or in one case, a camera to take a snapshot with to serve as a reference for the composition.  Another aid to painting the Canyon successfully is to ratchet down your view to a narrow scene - for example, a tree on a rock with a narrow slice of the canyon beyond.  I'll post three of my paintings below; there are several more, but they will have to wait to be imaged at a future date, as we are packing up for our next trip.

Near Yaki Point (sketch) 9x12,  oil with knife

At Moran Point (sketch) 9x12, oil

Near Yavapai Point (sketch) 9x12, pastel

We met a few other creatures of the Canyon during our time.  In addition to the rather moth-eaten elk we spotted one morning at Market Plaza (below),

we ran into a painter from Vermont, Malcolm Dubois, who was at the Canyon on a short trip.  Here's a photo of him on the edge.

We also came across another painter, who had dragged more equipment into the field than I would ever recommend to any of my students.  Here's an example of how not to set up your field studio.

So, now we're busying repacking the art gear and the car and about to head for points east.  I'll post more news from other workshops as we go.


Celeste Bergin said...

what an interesting post...! Beautiful paintings! (did the guy who brought too much equipment do a decent painting?)

adventureartist said...

Let's just say it looked OK from about 40 feet away.....VBG. But hey it takes all types and we certainly were not the only painters there last week. And by the way, the night after you left M & T it was 17 degrees just south of Grand View where I was camped. We had a fantastic "gathering of painting friends", learned a lot about not getting overwhelmed about that HUGE landscape, and I am very happy to have been a part of the fun! Safe travels everyone!

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, Celeste and Dru! Dru - Glad we escaped before it got REALLY cold! Next time, we'll make sure to bring the cookstove so we can heat up the tent. ;)