Monday, September 15, 2014

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art - Day 2

Another Postcard Sunrise

Morning came early with the bugling of elk. This is the start of their mating season, and at 4 a.m., it was an eerie sound to have with my morning coffee. Speaking of coffee, my hosts use an espresso machine for theirs, and I treat myself to a double while waking up. Who thought life could be so luxurious at Grand Canyon?

As dawn was breaking, which is around 5:30 here, I drove on the West Rim Drive to Hopi Point. There I was to meet up with ML Coleman for a little quick sunrise panting. When I got there, he had already parked his LazyDays RV and was sketching out his first one. When you want to capture the sun, you have to work fast, so I didn't dally over design. I did a little 5x7 just to capture the sense of light.


After that and a cup of coffee in ML's motor home (again, who thought life could be so luxurious?) I decided I was ready for one of my big ones and pulled out a 14x18. I had pre-toned it with yellow ochre, so it was perfect for a sunny day scene. I ended up staying right in the same spot. You don't have to move to get a half-dozen paintings out of one location.

West of Hopi Point, 14x18 oil

Before I knew it, it was lunchtime. But I stopped for one quick 9x12 near Maricopa Point.  I love these twisted junipers.  This one looked something like a snake coming out of the ground.

Maricopa Mambo 9x12 oil
After five paintings the first day and two before lunch this day, I was beat. Plus, the sun was getting very intense and things were warming up. I headed back to the house for lunch, shower and a little Web time.

Around 3, I headed back to Mohave Point to re-evaluate the 12x16 I'd painted the day before. I needed more information from the scene and wanted to bring the level of "mark making" with the brush up a notch. This time, I pulled out my French easel rather than my tripod-mounted pochade box, which let me use the umbrella. (Still, I had to use a bungee cord to keep the umbrella from sagging under its own weight. If you're going to use an umbrella, make sure you get one you don't have to wrestle! I like the Best Brella - www.bestbrella.com.)

About that time, Amery Bohling wandered by, looking for a painting spot. I lost track of her. Quick on her heels was Carl Ortman. He likes to paint figures and asked how long I was going to be there. I thought he wanted my painting spot, but all he wanted was to know if I'd be there long enough to paint me. I wasn't totally sure of my next move, so he, too, moved on.

Next, I pulled out a 9x12 I'd worked on that morning and made an adjustment to it; one branch of the juniper needed to be lopped off for the sake of design, and I didn't see that until I'd taken a photo of it and was looking at it on-screen. I often find that looking at a photo of one of my paintings gives me a fresh look at it.

Now it was 4:30. Sunset was coming. I decided to hang it up and head back. Plein air painting all day is, in many ways, like digging ditches, and it is just as tiring. But as I was driving down the hill toward the Village, I saw about a half-dozen cars pulled off - each of them had the "Event Artist" placard in the window. What's one more painting? I thought, so I joined them. Amery was there, along with ML Coleman, Bill Cramer, Dave Santillanes, Julia Seelos, Hai-Ou Hou, and Jim Wodark. We had a great time, and then came the sunset. It was a real Curt Walters moment, if you've seen any of his magnificent Canyon paintings.  I don't have a good photo yet of my painting, so I'll take that today.

How many painters does it take to photograph the sunset?

Our Curt Walters sunset - and it just kept getting better!
We all decided to head to the Bright Angel Grill for supper. But after making two passes through the Village looking for a parking spot, I decided to call it a night .

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