Thursday, November 3, 2011

Zion National Park Plein Air Event - Day 3

Early Morning Photographer

Yesterday dawned crisp and cold.  It was 30 degrees by the time I got to Court of the Patriarchs, which has become my all-time favorite morning spot.  I like it for morning because it's one of the first places that gets sun at 8 a.m.  But of course, somehow I always end up painting in the shade.  I wore my parka, corduroy pants and glomitts this time.  And also two hats.  My sun hat shades my eyes and my wool hat keeps my head warm.

The other day I had turkey; this time I had mule deer passing by.  Some of the bucks wore the largest racks I've ever seen.  That's another reason I like Court of the Patriarchs - here, very few people venture over the bridge that spans the Virgin River, and often it's just me and the wildlife.  If people want to find me, though, it's not hard.  There's only one obvious trail, and I'm on it.  Plus, I have a big sign in my car that says ARTIST (in all caps) and the Zion National Park Foundation, the event organizer, has stuck a sign in the parking lot that tells the public artists might be painting nearby.  I'll probably be there again today, so stop by!  You might see a turkey.

I did two paintings at the Court.  The second was a beautiful little pool, and it was nice to paint something more intimate.  I had to put away my "majestic awe" brush and pull out the "small gem" one.

Later, I headed up to Big Bend.  I'd scoped it out the day before, and I loved the way the light filled this little horseshoe bend and bounced into the shadows.  I also like the way the Great White Throne, which is featured on the event literature, loomed over the shadows.  For this one, I actually pulled out my collapsible camp chair - my feet were tired - which allowed me to really get into the "zone."

I liked this last piece so much I chose to bring it to the "Meet the Artists" event last night.  All the artists' paintings were nicely displayed on tabletop easels at Parallel 88, a fine dining restaurant in Springdale.   We had wine and tapas, courtesy of executive chef and owner Jeff Crosland.  A number of non-artists stopped by to chat and view the work.

Even though I was beat, I drove up to the Zion Lodge afterward for a lecture.  There's an educational aspect to the event, and lectures, demonstrations and workshops are offered.  (All but the workshops are free.)  I missed the lecture the night before, but I enjoyed this one.  Deborah Reeder, curator for the St George Art Museum, spoke about Thomas Moran's travels to the National Parks and his influence on  the creation of  the National Park system.  I didn't know Moran travelled exactly once to Zion and spent only five days here.  But in that time, he made many, many sketches.  I also learned that his Zion sketchbook is, curiously, not at Zion but at Yellowstone.  And also, the event logo uses one of his sketches of the Great White Throne, superimposed over a photograph.  It shows how accurate his drawing was.

Today is another painting day, and this afternoon I'll need to start framing work.  Artists need to deliver their five best pieces tomorrow morning to the Nature Center.

Tonight (Thursday) is the second "Meet the Artists" event.  Artists will be arriving after 5 at the Spotted Dog Cafe.  Tomorrow (Friday) is the Quick Draw, starting promptly at noon.  Artists have exactly 90 minutes to start and complete a painting, and then 15 minutes to get it - framed - to the auction block.  Full details on all of this are at  I hope to see you there!


Marsha Hamby Savage said...

Michael, what fun reading all your stuff about the event. I love the little pool one. My favorite so far I think. Hope you have great success. You let me know if it does not sell!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Marsha!

Sandra Nunes said...

Hi Michael,
What a delight to paint in a place like this! I love how your paintings are coming along, so beautiful!

daniela.. said...

I always love reading about your painting adventures. The second one you painted this time - I love this! It captures a whole lot more than is in the painting about the terrain and the country in which you are painting. I am in Australia and wish I could be standing right there taking it all in.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, everyone!