Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 5

(Tuesday, Sept 13)

After a brief, early morning drizzle, the weather began to clear, so I headed up the West Rim Drive  toward a spot I liked near Hopi Point.  Along the way, I spotted a variety of artists along the trail, each intent on beating the now-predictable afternoon thunderstorms.  I arrived at Hopi Point at the same time as California artist Jim Wodark.  There seems to be a certain honor among plein air painters that if someone else has arrived at your spot, you move on.  But for Jim and I, it was like two cars arriving at a four-way stop at the same time - who goes first?  It wasn't a problem, though, as my spot was a few hundred yards up the trail.

I found a small pool of water right at the rim's edge.  It beckoned to me as something unusual, but not too unusual, to spice up what might otherwise be a trite canyon view.  I also went back to the painting knife, since that seems to keep things lively in the color department.  (This time, I've used Picasa's autocontrast feature on the painting images.  They look good to me, but your view may be different.)

Afterward, I decided to continue on up the road to see if I could find another knife painting.  I was feeling a bit tired, so it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do.  I should have taken a good long walk instead.  As it was, I started...and then the clouds moved in, toying with me.  I finally ended up scraping the painting and heading home for lunch.

After lunch and a good cup of coffee, I was ready to go again.  I headed up to Yaki Point, found myself a nice scene with some storm clouds boiling up over the North Rim.  After an hour, though, clouds boiled up over the South Rim, too.  The light vanished, and although I thought about continuing, my morning's lesson was still fresh in my mind.  What's more, Zeus had began hurling firebolts, too.  Since they were hitting a little too close for comfort, I packed up.  I had a very good start on this painting, and I'll go back tomorrow at the same time.

Elizabeth Black Demo

I went back to the El Tovar for the 4 p.m. demo.  This time, Boulder, Colorado, painter Elizabeth Black was on the docket.  I found out that while I was at Yaki Point, she was not too far away at Shoshone Point, and was 30 feet from a lightning strike there.  I remember hearing that particular blast, and was glad I was on the way to my car.  Plein air painting is not for the timid; between bees, hail, tornadoes, lightning strikes and hungry rock squirrels, the profession is rife with risks.

The sun broke out just as Elizabeth started her demo, and it was too good an opportunity to  miss.  After begging forgiveness, I retrieved my gear and set up near El Tovar.  I had about an hour to do a 5x7, which I was very happy with.  A few French-speaking tourists watched.  Although my French is nearly non-existent, I understood that they liked the painting, too.  Next year, I'll bone up on my French - and my German and French and maybe even learn a little Japanese, Italian and Polish.  I've heard all of these spoken since I arrived.

This little painting is in an Art Cocoon, a wet panel carrier that doubles as a container to hold the painting while I paint.  You can find out more at

1 comment:

Doug Runyan said...

The 5 x 7 is really good, Michael. Je l'aime beaucoup! :)