Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 4

(Monday, Sept 12)

Another bright, clear morning.  I decided it was time to drive out to Desert View, which is at the far eastern end of the Park and a good 25 miles away.  But on the way there, I decided to stop at Moran Point.  Moran Point, as you may recall, is named after the Hudson River School painter, Thomas Moran.  He not only painted the Hudson Valley but also spent time in the west on the payroll of the railroad, creating publicity images for their ad campaigns.  Moran Point has a particularly nice outcrop that offers good scenes from several angles.

Joshua Been at Moran Point

Fellow painter Joshua Been beat me to it.  He'd been there since 6:30; I arrived only a few minutes later.  Clouds had begun to move in again, and Josh was cursing the changing light.  A stiff breeze kicked  up, too.  I found my favorite spot down and to the right from where Josh was painting.  A juniper offered relief from the breeze, which had turned quite cool.  (It was 48 degrees.)  No sooner than I had the painting blocked in than the rain began to spit down.  It felt more like sleet!  A few minutes later, though, the sun returned, and I was able to finish it off.  This one is a knife painting.  I may do more of these this week.  It's hard to get muddy color with a knife.

Afterward, I drove on to Desert View.  Desert View has a tall watchtower, built by architect Mary Colter in 1932 for the Fred Harvey Company.  I didn't want to paint the tower, but instead the nice view of the Colorado River snaking down below it.  But the thunderheads had built up again, and the rain came down.  I sat in my car for a bit, trying to decide if I should move on to another location.  But soon the rain stopped, the sun came out, and I went to my perfect spot.

Two paintings before lunch is a work day for me.  I drove back slowly, checking out different pulloffs for views.  I stopped at Grandview Point and was surprised to see a big van unloading a bunch of tall guys, each with a French easel strapped to his back.  I inquired, and they said they are "space painters" - as in astronomy.  They were here to do some field sketches because the terrain looks somewhat like that of Mars.  What with the clouds and the imminent rain, I thought there was just too much atmosphere for any similarity.

Afterward, I sat on a rock with my sandwich and conversed with a raven, who was a little too interested in my meal.  Then it was back to my hosts' house, where I learned of a tornado warning.  A tornado had been spotted 10 miles south of Tusayan, heading east at 20 mph.  Tusayan is only 7 miles south of Grand Canyon, and the warning went out to the painters.   Although the tornado passed uneventfully, the rain continued, forcing the afternoon's demo onto the north porch of El Tovar.  I went out to watch Michael Obermeyer, who had just arrived from California.  Lucky for him, the weather finally began to move off as he began his demo.

Michael Obermeyer on El Tovar North Porch

We've certainly had some dramatic weather this week.  Mornings are best for painting.  But that's fine with me, because that's my favorite time of day!

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