Monday, October 22, 2007

Sedona 07 - Day 1

Sedona is one busy place this time of year. Apparently, Folks in Phoenix don't have much in the way of autumn foliage, so they drive up to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to see the cottonwoods turn yellow. I drove down the Canyon from Flagstaff on Saturday. Traffic was heavy and slow, but slow wasn't bad, because it gave me an opportunity to see just how well the colour is progressing. It looks to be nearly peak. Locals are saying it's one of the best foliage seasons they can remember. It'll be a great week to capture it on canvas.

This is the 3rd Annual Sedona Plein Air Festival. In case you're not familiar with this prestigious event, participation is by invitation only. Once again, I'm honoured to be one of 30 invited artists. You can see a list of the artists here and visit the links to their websites. I'll be rubbing elbows with the best and brightest!

I didn't come right to Sedona, though. On Wednesday, I flew into Albuquerque, New Mexico, and drove south to Ruidoso to visit my friend, Ann Templeton. I also stopped by our storage unit -- after nearly two years, Trina and I still haven't completed our move to Canada -- to pick up some frames and other items I stashed there after last year's festival. It was good to relax a bit before what I'm sure will be an intense week.

Saturday was a long, 9-hour drive. From Ruidoso, I took the scenic route through old New Mexico towns with names like Datil, Quemado, Pietown (famous for its pies) and Springerville, Arizona. Once in Sedona, I checked in with my hosts, had a nice dinner with them and then went right to bed. (My body is still on Atlantic Time.) On Sunday, I met the other 29 artists at the Sedona Art Center for an orientation.

As you may recall, last year we had a leisurely start to the week. Our morning orientation was followed in the evening by a social at Red Rock state Park. Between the two, we had several hours to get our bearings. This year, though, we were put under the gun right away. Immediately following orientation, we had our first paint-out -- on Main Street, which was bumper-to-bumper with tourists!

As a teacher, I'm pretty comfortable with people watching me paint. What made me uncomfortable, though, was the gale-force wind. It was so strong that the folks running the sign-in tent decided not to put up the tent for fear of being blown to Oz. You can imagine what we painters were up against. I took a sheltered spot on a balcony with a view. The only drawback was the shade, because it made what little breeze found me chilling. I really could have used a bit of sun. (Warmer temperatures are due to return in a couple of days.) Because of the chill, I had to work fast. Visitors were amazed at what I did in an hour. (One remarked, "The others are still just getting set up.") Even though it was a quick one, I'm very happy with it. I don't have a photo just yet, as I'm waiting for the wind to die down a bit before trying to photograph it.

After the paintout, I took a drive to refamiliarize myself with painting spots. I found some good ones last year that I wanted to remember. I also wanted to visit some of the new spots that are on the "suggested locations" list the organizers gave us.

In the evening, the wind was still howling, but I wanted to paint the evening light. I found a bit of shade on the lee side of a juniper with a view of a formation near the Coffeepot. Sedona is famous for the odd names of these red rock formations -- "Coffeepot," "Snoopy" and "Battleship" are just a few. I don't know what the name of this particular hill is, but it will be important to find out the names for all the paintings I do this week. The most-asked question I had last year from potential buyers at the final sale was, "What rock is that?" Strangely, this seems to be very important to the buyer, and if you don't know, they are disappointed enough to move on to an artist who does know.

I didn't finish this painting. I got as far as the block-in and capturing the feeling of light and the quality of the colour when the cold got to me again. The temperature drops fast in the desert when the sun starts to go down. My plan is to go back this evening around the same time to finish it off.

Finally, after dinner, I went right to bed. Monday, I have most of the day free to paint and explore. Our only planned event is dinner for the artists at 7 at Los Abrigados. I'll see if I can stay awake that long!

I'll be posting daily entries to my blog as the week progresses. I'll post photos of the paintings I do plus photos of some of our group activities. I'm sorry I don't have any photos just yet, so at the top is a photo from last year.

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