Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Zion National Park Plein Air Event - Day 2

As I travel Zion National Park this week, I'm mindful of a trend that I began to note while painting the Grand Canyon.  There's a marked age difference between plein air painters and photographers.  Plein air painting seems to be a young person's sport; photography, a pastime enjoyed by older folks.  (Of course, this is a generalization; and now that school has started and fewer families are travelling, most of the tourists are retirees.)  But will a day come when I find it easier and less troublesome to snap a few photos instead?

But look at some of the photographers!  They lug as much gear as a painter, and they will wait many minutes for the light to get just right.  Photography, too, can try one's patience and test one's endurance.

Our second day dawned windy and cool, about 50 degrees.  I headed out again early, driving the full length of the Zion Canyon Road to see where the light was.  As I suspected, the far, upper reaches of the canyon are narrow and steep-walled, and there was no sunlight to be found there.  I retreated to Court of the Patriarchs, where I had some good sun yesterday.  I made sure to wear my snow parka for warmth; I wanted to stay warm long enough to paint a 12x16.

Then, after a quick lunch, I drove back up the canyon to find the light.  Not too far past the Zion Canyon Lodge I found a pull-off and a path giving access to the Virgin River.  I set up on a sandy beach and in full sun.  I had to point my umbrella down, almost horizontal, to block the light bouncing off the beach.  It got warm quickly, and I found myself stripping off my parka and down to my turtleneck.

After this 9x12, I drove on up the canyon to take some photos of a few view points and hiked around the Big Bend.  (I'm not doing as much hiking as I'd like this week.)  Zion is very, very rich in painting spots - but not so much in parking spots!  Now I understand why they run the shuttles during the busy season.  But if you wait a bit, usually someone leaves.  Most tourists stay just long enough for a photo.

The wind was getting up again, and clouds were moving in fast.  I wanted to get in one more painting  before quitting for the day, so I found another pull-off, this time just north of Court of the Patriarchs.  Doug Braithwaite was finishing up a piece there, and we visited for a few moments.  My last one was difficult because the clouds played with the light, but I think I got it.

Tonight (Wednesday) is our first "Meet the Artists" event.  The public is invited to visit with us and see some of the week's work thus far at the Parallel 88 restaurant after 5.  Artists are asked to bring a piece to hang and show for the evening.  If you're around, stop in!

By the way, I've set  up a "viewing room" in my hotel room.  (No, I'm not painting in the room, and I am meticulous.)  It's good to be able to put out all the work to evaluate it.  I can decide which paintings are good to frame, which need a few adjustments, and which will become "backups."


Marsha Hamby Savage said...

Thanks Michael. Love seeing the places and I hope to get there someday. Also hearing your thoughts is very enlightening. You are a good teacher and narrator!

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thank you, Marsha! I have lots of time in the evenings right now to polish my little essays. ;)

Doug Runyan said...

I've actually done a few good little paintings in hotel rooms during workshops -- without making a mess! Maybe you should try it!

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

I'm pretty meticulous, too, Doug, but I'd hate to kick over the turps can on the carpet! A good reason to use pastel, though!