Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 4

Desert View Watch Tower

 After last night's gorgeous, jewel-studded sunset, I suspected that we were in for a change in the weather.  Sure enough, today saw thunderheads building up over higher terrain.  But after two days of painting in perfect weather - and full sun - I am grateful for the clouds!  Not only do they add interest to the sky, they also cast beautiful shadows in the canyon.

View from Desert View

I headed out first thing to Desert View, 25 miles east of the village.  I knew that the canyon beneath the historic watchtower would be in deep shadow for awhile.  Deep shadow normally doesn't interest me, but in this case, I also knew that I'd see a silver ribbon of the Colorado River snaking through it, which would make for a nice point of interest.  I arrived at Desert View so early that the snack shop wasn't open yet, and only a few tourists were wandering around.  It wasn't long, though, before the busloads arrived.  In the course of a couple of hours, I had conversations with people from France, Germany and Ireland.  The fellow from Ireland and I talked about family names; I learned that "Chesley" is not an Irish name, but "McCulley" - my grandparents' surname - certainly is.  My new friend said that although he is from Dublin, his family is originally from Moscow.  I guess even the Irish had to come from somewhere.

The River - 9x12, oil
At Desert View, I was serenaded by ravens.  Ravens are the most remarkable creatures, and I almost feel a soulful connection to them.  I love to watch them gliding on the wind.  I thought about putting one or two in my painting; I may still yet.

After closing up, I got some coffee at the Desert View snack shop and hiked around looking for other spots.  Although the views were promising, I decided to head back.  I painted a nice piece at Moran Point last year.  Moran Point is stunning with the early morning light, but as I discovered, it's not so interesting at mid-morning.  (I wonder if Thomas Moran, for whom it is named and who painted there, thought the same?)   So I moved on to Grandview Point, which is good any time of day.  Before Grand Canyon was established as a park and Grand Canyon Village was settled, Grandview was where the tourists went.

Monsoon Weather - 9x12, oil
By this time, the thunderheads were building over the North Rim, and I could see rain coming down.  I love a good storm.  And 10 miles was a good safe, distance to be from it.  Knowing that the clouds would change quickly, I blocked in and finished those before working on the land.  (I used a similar approach with the Desert View piece, blocking and completing the shadowed canyon first.)

Linda Glover Gooch and Glenn Rennell were there at Grandview, as well.  After finishing up, I had a light lunch with Linda, sitting on a rock wall and watching the clouds.  We talked shop, of course.  Then I went home to plan the rest of the day.   Coffee helped ratchet up the enthusiasm for a third painting.  So, I drove up to Verkamp's in the village to paint, thinking that afterward I'd hop over to El Tovar to catch Paul Kratter's 4 pm demonstration.  But as soon as I exited the car, the heavens opened.   I scurried back to my car and sat for nearly an hour until I had exhausted all my reading material.  When the next lightning bolt struck directly in front of me in the Canyon and striking a spot below the rim, I knew it was time to head home.

It ended up raining all evening.  I enjoyed a nice, homecooked meal with my hosts.  (Thank you again, Chris and Rick!)  Maybe with all the rain we'll have some nice fog to paint in the Canyon come morning.

3 comments:

Jo Castillo said...

Beautiful paintings. I especially like the depth in "The River". We will be at the Canyon I'm a few days so thanks for being a guide. :)

Nancy Vance said...

Michael, "The River" is an excellent painting! I am glad you left the Watch Tower in the view - it really helps the sense of distance down to the river. A WINNER!

As always, I am enjoying hearing about your painting adventures.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, Nancy and Jo! Jo - Will you be here for the Quick Draw on Friday?