Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art - Day 3

Storm Over the North Rim

It was another early dawn with the elk calling somewhere in the Park. This morning, I headed over to Mohave Point. Amery Bohling and I had talked about how it might look in the morning. It's always been a great evening painting spot, so we decided, based on a number of arcane calculations and formulae known only to master plein air painters, that it would be a great morning spot, too

Well, the light on those beautiful cliffs came - and went. Fast.

I wanted to paint my largest size this week, another 18x14. By the time I'd gotten the shadows all blocked in, they'd changed dramatically, thanks to the restless sun. There were numerous details I could still get from the scene, but I had to resort to memory and my knowledge of how light and shadow work in the Canyon. Amery and I both agreed that this particular scene should be labelled, "Not For Beginners."

Mohave Point, Morning 18x14 oil

All that said, I was pretty happy with my piece. I may head back to Mohave the next morning just to double-check some of my facts. (I also have some reference photos, but we're not supposed to use those for this plein air event; if I were painting on my own, I'd have no qualms about referring to them.)

Amery asked if I was going to paint another, implying that she was going to. Guilt is a great motivator among us painters, but I resisted. Instead, I drove up the West Rim Drive a few miles, and just past the Abyss pull-out I spotted a picnic table along the edge. And it was in shade! I spent an hour or so pulling out paintings and evaluating them, and adding a tweak here and there. It's worthwhile doing this earlier than later. Rather than spending a full day agonizing over these paintings at the end of the week, I like to nibble my way through them. Plus, this year we are being asked to deliver paintings as we complete them, starting Tuesday.

After a short walk along the rim, I headed back home for lunch and to figure out my next plan. For the afternoon, I noticed we had some nice thunderstorms popping up over the North Rim. I always like these monsoonal storms. From a distance, they are lovely to see. I don't particularly like them overhead, though; the lightning can be dangerous. I drove over to the Visitor Center for a treat (ice cream sandwich) and walked over to Mather Point to get a better view of the weather. It looked like the South Rim would be safe from storms, so I drove east toward Moran Point.

Moran Point, as many Grand Canyon painters will tell you, is named for the Hudson River School painter Thomas Moran. But research shows this might not be the case. The Arizona State University's website on the history of Grand Canyon says:
Many people erroneously assume it is named for famed American landscape artist Thomas Moran, but it is probably named instead for his brother, Peter Moran, an accomplished artist in his own right. Peter Moran traveled to the South Rim in 1881 with explorer and Army Captain John Bourke, who probably named the point in his honor. Thomas Moran never saw the South Rim until 1892 when he visited as a guest of the Santa Fe Railway. 
I've always disliked myth-busters for stomping on my buzz. Well, it doesn't matter - it's a beautiful scene, anyway. I got there about mid-afternoon, just in time to see a large storm dissipating over the North Rim. I really had to push on this painting, as it was a 16x12, the sun was hot, and some lady had left her two Westies barking in her car with the windows rolled up. I'm sure the dogs were only in there for 15 minutes, but they worried me and it seemed a lot longer.

Storm Over the North Rim 16x12 oil

It wasn't quite sunset yet, so I drove back slowly, looking for spots that might have artists painting. I didn't see a one, so they must have all been back on the West Rim Drive. I ended up at the Market Plaza and grabbed a sandwich for dinner.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you are at Grand Canyon today (Tuesday), I invite you to watch my hour-long painting demonstration on just outside El Tovar on the rim at 4 pm. The painting I make will also be auctioned off at the end. You can get educated and get a great painting all in the same afternoon!

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