After torrential rain Friday night, Saturday dawned clear and cool. Friend and plein air festival artist Bill Cramer called me at 6 a.m. to ask where I wanted to paint. It was still dark, but he was already in his car. Although I'd already been up for a couple of hours, I hadn't had coffee or breakfast. I'm no slacker, but I sure felt like one!
After a quick bowl of cereal and a quicker cup of coffee, I met Bill near Verkamp's, the old visitor center near the El Tovar lodge. We pulled on our packs and hiked east along the Rim Trail for views. And they were stupendous! We'd heard a lot about smoke from fires - all lightning-caused - and were a little worried that this would impact our painting. Nary a smoke molecule was to be seen.
Bill and I got separated and communicated by cell phone to ID our location to each other. We used the "million mile" markers on the trail to help us. The trail has little brass markers on it to identify the ages. The idea is that you can walk back and forth through time. At one point, I was painting at the 1730 million-years-ago mark, in the Paleoproterozoic era, when multicellular organisms were just coming into existence. On the way back, we spotted two condors on the ledge below the trail. They didn't seem to mind us watching them for awhile.
Bill Cramer at Work
After a lunch break, we headed over to Yaki Point. By then, clouds were rolling in and rising up, and a few spots of rain fell. I set up, anyway, and began to paint. I'm glad I did, because the rain moved south of me, and I was able to paint as long as I wanted. I had a few more curious onlookers at Yaki than I did on the Rim Trail; this was surprising, since Yaki is accessible only by shuttle bus (except for us lucky painters, who have been given special permission to drive in) and the trail near Verkamp's is in the heart of Tourist Land.
By 4 p.m., I was beat. I'd made 2 1/2 paintings - one I need to go back to finish. Every afternoon at 4, an artist is scheduled to give a public demonstration at Mather Point. I drove over to watch Linda Glover Gooch paint. I've met Linda before and was curious to watch her painting style. She wields a knife and a brush simultaneously. A thunderstorm was threatening, but it held off for the demo. Afterward, I pushed myself and headed over to Yavapai Point to do a little rain painting - a 5x7 - of the thunderstorm crossing the canyon to the west. I packed up when the lightning started to get a little close.
Linda Glover Gooch Demo
Below are two of the paintings from the day.