Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art - Day 5

Retreating Storm (Yaki Point) 16x12, oil

Wednesday dawned with a good bit of cloud cover, and as I drove out to Yaki Point to meet some of the other painters, I wondered how the light would be. But during monsoon season, as it is called, any morning clouds typically dissipate quickly. Sure enough, by the time I'd picked out my spot, the clouds had begun to retreat. But I really liked the cloud patterns, so I spent the first part of the session getting the sky right and finishing it before working on any other part of the painting.

I've found that clouds can really help a Grand Canyon scene. It's a mistake to include too much sky if the sky is empty. A clear, blue sky is pretty to look at, but in a painting the effect is largely lost. For this painting, however, the sky was so beautiful with patterns and rhythm that I gave it plenty of room.

Usually toward the middle of a painting event, artists start to get a little tired. I took a break and wasn't sure if I was going to even paint another piece today. I went east from Yaki Point for a long walk to clear my head. I discovered that, since my last time there, a horse trail had been put in and graveled. My first clue to that was the sound of hooves and voices. I met two groups of riders on my walk. If I had to pick a riding activity at the Canyon, I'd definitely choose the horse ride on the rim over the mule ride down to Phantom Ranch. It feels safer, and you still get great views.

Brahama Temple View (Yaki Point) 9x12 oil
I caught up with ML Coleman on the walk back to the parking lot, and he laid a guilt trip on me for closing up shop early. So, I reluctantly hauled out the gear and found another spot to paint. It's pretty much always the case with me that, once I start painting, the enthusiasm kicks in and I wonder why I even considered not painting. This is a different view of that little tower that sits off Yaki Point that everyone paints; I minimized it in favor of focusing more on Brahama Temple.

Retreating Storm (Moran Point) 16x12 oil

Once I finished that painting, I knew I was done for the day. I headed back to shower (I'd been so busy I hadn't showered in two days), did a load of laundry (have I been traveling that long?), called home (oh, yes, I shouldn't forget I have a family), and framed up my two 12x16s and delivered them to the Kolb Studio. Above, you can see the other piece framed.

James McGrew Demo
Then I wandered back up to El Tovar to watch James McGrew's 4 pm demonstration. Each day, a different artist is giving a demo. (You'll remember I gave mine the day before.) He won Best of Show last year plus some other awards, so I was eager to meet him and see how he paints. Like me, he's a fast painter.

After that, still determined to not paint again, I ran into John Cogan. He, too, had hit the wall. "I think I'll just go set up my umbrella and chair and sit and look," he said. After walking around a bit along the rim, I ran into him again. He was hard at work on a painting. I looked at the evening light and realized that if I hurried, I could get in a small painting, too. So I got my gear and set up near the Kolb Studio and made a little 5x7 painting of it. One nice thing about this event is that the other painters can inspire you to keep going.

Evening Light on Kolb Studio 5x7 oil
The remnants of Hurricane Odile are dropping rain over southern Arizona. Chances for rain are a little higher for Thursday. Maybe I'll get some more good clouds!

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