Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Grand Canyon Interim Report


There are many places in the world more remote than Grand Canyon, but sometimes Grand Canyon seems very remote indeed.  Normally, I would be posting to my blog almost daily with entertaining and enlightening reports on this painting business, but I am hobbled somewhat by telecommunications issues.  Be that as it may, I am here now, happy to report midway through the Tenth Annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art.

As I write, it is Tuesday.  The event started Friday with an evening orientation and canvas-stamping, and painting began Saturday.  I went right in, full-throttle, painting four pieces on Saturday and again on Sunday. This, despite the heat.  Temperatures have been in the 80s, and if you’re in the sun, you bake. I am glad I had a change of heart about bringing my umbrella; I think I have used it for every painting session.  I’ve hoped for clouds, hoped to find a pinon or cedar tall enough to give me shade, but it’s the umbrella that has been a lifesaver. This is my fifth time as an invited artist, and I can’t remember a hotter week.

The organizers requested that some of the artists provide painting demonstrations.  I agreed to do one on Monday at 10 a.m. at the far east end of the park, at the Desert View Watch Tower.  (This is a historic structure in the form of a faux Native American building--a fantasy, really, since no Native American culture ever built such a thing--designed by architect Mary Colter in the 1930s.)  I wanted to be fresh for the demo, so I decided to take a hike rather than paint. I’ve been heading out before dawn each morning, so I did the same on Monday, and hiked from Mather Point to Yaki Point and back.  The demo went well, and although I thought about painting on the route back to Grand Canyon Village, which is where I am lodging, I didn’t. Later I went out to the Hermit Road on the west side of the park, which is where I’ve been painting most of the week, along with sessions at Yaki Point.

My raven overseer

My companions this week:  the ravens. I love to have them tumbling in the air overhead, playing with and talking to one another.  I feel a mystical connection with the raven. I’ve never felt this with any other animal. When I stand on the brink of the canyon, I can feel what it would be like to spread my wings and ride the thermals.  I see through their eyes.

By the way, my mantra this week is “Color and Contrast.”  For color, I’ve added a couple of new pigments to my standard palette.  These are quinacridone red and manganese violet, all Gamblin colors. These are perfect, I find, for the shadowed rocks walls.  So, my complete palette is as follows: hansa yellow light, hansa yellow deep, naphthol red, quinacridone red, permanent alizarin crimnson, manganese violet, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue hue and phthalo emerald, plus titanium-zinc white.  Also a little solvent-free gel. As for contrast, I start each painting with the idea that shadowed areas are to be painted in cool pigments; sunlit areas, in the warm pigments. The fact that I’m starting with color “right from the tube" makes for a very cartoonish start, but then I adjust this in later stages.  I’m starting each painting with a brush but doing most of the finish work with a knife. The color stays richer that way.

I’m afraid I haven’t photographed any of my paintings yet.  I want to take proper photos of them rather than sharing poorly-lit field shots.  I do think my work is good this week. So instead, I will leave you with some photos of some of my locations.  By the way, rather than posting regularly to the blog, I am posting regularly to my Instagram feed. Visit www.instagram.com/mchesleyjohnson for the latest.

My next report will most likely be after the event.  Wish me luck! The exhibition opens on Saturday night with a ticketed collector’s opening.  It opens to the public on Sunday. For full details, visit www.GrandCanyon.org


 


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