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.


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?