Saturday, September 20, 2014

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art - Day 7


Our last day of free painting arrived with plenty of clouds. For this day, we were asked to paint on the rim between Mather Point and Trailview Overlook from dawn until 10 a.m; I chose Yavapai Point, near the Geology Museum. As I packed up, I immediately noted how damp the morning was - the windshield of my car was covered in dew, and everything felt, well, damp! It felt a lot like a morning on Campobello Island.

Elizabeth Black had already set up and was hard at work, even though the sun had just barely risen. ML Coleman arrived shortly after, and we set up together. You'll note that I mention ML frequently during my posts this week; he's a good friend, and he was the one who first took me to the Canyon to paint several years ago and gave me some tips on painting it. We're also sympatico in other ways. Plus, we look somewhat alike and are often mistaken for one another. It's uncanny

I did two 9x12s during the morning, one of which I framed up for the exhibit. For some reason, they're a little hard to photograph, but here they are. I'll try to get better photos later.

Isis in the Morning 9x12 oil

Sunrise on the Battleship 9x12 oil (submitted to the exhibit)

After the delivery, I was basically free for the day. I was determined not to paint again, so I spent the afternoon re-organizing my car studio and packing things I would need for Saturday's Quick Draw. I didn't want to forget my framing tool and Sharpie, as they are crucial for framing up the piece and identifying it on the back of the panel. More about that in a moment.

Around 3, the clouds were building up. (Damp mornings here in "monsoon season" often portend a stormy afternoon.) I decided to use my special access permit one last time - it was set to expire today - and drive up the West Rim Drive to take photos. I also had a couple of paintings that I wanted to adjust, and I knew of a quiet spot where I could set up in the shade and make a few adjustments.

Clouds continued to build and gather, and it wasn't long before some good thunder was cracking overhead. This always makes me a little nervous, since the last time I participated at the Canyon event, two Dutch tourists were struck and killed by lightning on this road, which goes up higher than the Village. (Actually, it was the week before the event, and after that, the Park instituted the policy of closing the road whenever a dangerous storm approached.)

As luck would have it, as I finished up, ML came by in his motor home. There was no way I could avoid painting now! We caravanned further up the road beyond Mohave Pont but before the Abyss, where we had a great view of clouds and sweet little sunspots down in the shadowed canyon. But just before we set up, the heavens split.

It rained hard for a good 30 minutes. I sat in my car listening to music and watching the storm. Once it was over, we had a nice wedge of open blue sky over us that looked like it would last a couple of hours. I got out to set up and discovered that we had about a foot of water around us. Each pulloff on the road has a rock wall edging it, and at this particular pulloff, the drain in the wall had gotten plugged. I could get out of my car, but ML couldn't get out of the RV without getting his feet soaked. He managed, however, to span the distance between RV and rock wall, and to walk along the top of the wall to a dry spot.

We scratched out heads for a few minutes, and then I remembered my useless umbrella. It has a long metal extension pole. This proved to be the perfect thing for routing out the drain. It only took a few minutes to drain the flood. Just call me "Roto."

The clouds were just beautiful, so I pulled out a 14x18 and got to work. I also simplified my palette to speed things up. Rather than my usual split-complementary palette of six colors, I used yellow ochre, burnt sienna and Prussian blue. I really liked how this one turned out.

Rain over the River 14x18 oil

After that, I went home. It was about sundown. I watched two episodes of "Boardwalk Empire" with my hosts and then went to bed.

Saturday is the Quick Draw in front of El Tovar. The starting gun goes off at 9, and then we have two hours to complete, frame and deliver a painting. At noon, the pieces will be auctioned off at an area set up at the Bright Angel trailhead. Then, to end the day, the Buyer's Preview starts at 5 at the Kolb Studio. I hope to see some of you there!

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