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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Changes in the Wind

"Templeton Trail" 9x12, pastel

It's been a great year, but after much thought, we've sold the gallery space at Creekside Plaza.  The new owner will take up residence in mid-October.  The summer artists, Neil Rizos and Joyce Huntington, will be leaving soon for other adventures. 

We'll still be in the Sedona area, however, and I'll be teaching advanced/mentoring workshops  as I have the last few years.  (I also offer a few weeks of traditional, all-level workshops.)  For information on the Paint Sedona program, visit  Weeks are starting to fill!  If you're looking for a winter getaway, Sedona is the perfect place.  There's plenty to do there for painter and non-painter alike - hiking, biking, massages, hot air balloon rides, Jeep tours and, of course, galleries to visit.

If you didn't have a chance to visit Pumphouse Studio Gallery and you're looking for my paintings, please visit Windrush Gallery ( in the Garland Building at 411 Highway 179, Sedona, just a block from Creekside Plaza.  They've got a great selection of my recent work.  You can also contact me for an appointment if you'd like to visit my home studio.

I'll be back in Sedona soon for the Sedona Plein Air Festival.  This will be my sixth year as an invited artist, and  I am looking forward to it once again.  The Festival runs October 21-29, 2011.  For a full schedule of events and a list of invited artists, visit

Pumphouse Studio Gallery may return in another form some day - stay tuned!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Creating a Sense of Light on a Lackluster Day

Someone recently asked how one can create a sense of light when the day lacks brilliance.  When the sun has gone behind the clouds or the fog has rolled in, contrast lessens and edges soften.  You'll find that this more diffuse light will creep into shadows, weakening them. Things can began to look downright gloomy.  When this happens, it's so easy to paint the world as if it's caught in some spectral dimension halfway between the living and the dead.

But don't despair!  The light is there, and you can capture it.

A sense of light is created partly by value contrast.  Strong light and strong darks signify intense illumination.  But a sense of light is also created by temperature contrast.  The Impressionists discovered that even if you have little value contrast - as on a dull  day - temperature contrast can be used to create a sense of light.  You probably already know that warm light creates cool shadows.   This kind of contrast happens on dull days, too.  If the light is cool, the shadows will be warm.  By pushing the difference in temperature, even with little value contrast, you can increase the brilliance of the light.

In the painting below, the cool, pinkish light from the sky intensifies the warm, brown shadows beneath the dock, creating a brilliance that wouldn't be there if I hadn't "pushed" the temperature contrast.  This piece also has strong value contrast, which helps the illusion.

"Waiting" 9x12, oil

By the way, this week was my last Campobello Island workshop for the season.  We'll be on our way to Arizona soon for the Paint Sedona plein air workshops.  And of course, we'll be back on Campobello next summer!  You can find out about both workshops at and

Friday, September 23, 2011

Painting the Grand View

"Low Tide" 8x10, oil
(Gamblin FastMatte Alkyds)

Before I get to the meat of this post, I want first to present the above painting.  This is an 8x10 I painted for the Scottsdale Artists' School annual Beaux Arts event.  This fundraiser for the School offers an auction of 8x10s painted by their instructors and other nationally-recognized artists.  The auction will be held November 12 at the School.  For more information:

A reader of my Grand Canyon blog posts asked, How does one choose and compose such a grand view?  Well, it's not easy to fit 227 miles of canyon, ten miles across and a mile deep, onto a 9x12 canvas!

Back in the Romantic era, when an expanse of wild, mountainous landscape was considered by some to be such a soul-damaging view that traveling ladies would mask their eyes to protect their delicate sensibilities, one might have cropped down the scene to something safer, such as a single, windblasted tree.  Even today, this is a good route to take when facing awesome views.  I use a viewfinder - a ViewCatcher  - and pick some small part of the scene.

But as one of the artists (David Haskell) at the event said, the whole point of painting the Grand Canyon is to capture the grandness of it.

In a small format, this is near-impossible.  Certainly in a squarish format such as a 9x12.  Ideally, a double- or triple-square would be best for the sweeping panorama.  (I like 12x24, which is a double-square.)   But if you are forced into a smaller, more square format, there is something you can do to suggest the grandness.  You can exaggerate the atmospheric perspective.

When I painted the Canyon, I took special note of the effects of atmosphere - how colors cooled as the cliffs receded, how contrast lessened, and how edges softened.  Then I "pushed" these changes to increase the sense of space.  Even in a scene with a windblasted tree, I would choose a vantage point to include some of the Canyon behind it, which would give an idea of the hundred miles of cliffs.  Ultimately, you must do everything you can to capture the grandness.

This doesn't mean you have to capture every little mesa top and cliff in the Canyon.  Sometimes, it's more effective to just suggest them with a near-abstract pattern of light and dark patterns that look like the Canyon, but aren't a literal representation of it.  If you manage the color temperature properly to evoke a sense of light and shadow, this works really well.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 8

(Friday, Sept 16)


Most plein air events these days have a Quick Draw session.   I used to dread these sessions.  Imagine being surrounded by a constantly changing army of spectators, all with questions about what you do and why you do it - and at the same time, you're trying to do what you do, and to do it better than any of the other 29 artists!  But these days, I look forward to the challenge and the opportunity to meet some really nice people.

I headed out early to get a parking space up by El Tovar, which is where the Quick Draw was to be held.  It was 6:30, and the event wasn't until 9.  I used the time to stretch my legs, clear my head, see the sunrise over the canyon and call home.  Once I finished my coffee, I walked the length of the Rim Trail from Verkamp's Visitor Center to the Kolb Studio to find a good location.   I decided I wanted to save my energy for painting, not for lugging gear, so I chose one near the parking lot and right in front of El Tovar, the fancy resort.  Once I dropped my gear, claiming my turf, I chatted with some of the other artists and strategized.

Waiting for the Starting Gun
(No, there's not really a gun)

My strategy is two-fold.  First, work small.  Second, have fun.  So, I did an 8x10, and for fun, I used a painting knife.  People were really curious about the knife, having not seen it used before.  I gave them a mini-lecture about how it's hard to create mud with a knife - color is rich and clean - and how easy it is to clean up, with just a wipe of a paper towel, no mineral spirits needed.  I did block in the scene first with a brush to get it going, but everything else was knifework.   I was quite pleased with the results, and I guess the person who bought the painting was, too!

"Good Morning" 8x10

We painted from 9 until 11, and then promptly framed our work and delivered it to the auction tent on El Tovar's north lawn.  For an hour, artists milled around with patrons.  I ran into P.A. Nisbet and had a nice chat with him; he was one of the artist stars of last night's movie, "Chasing the Light."  He'd been one of the painters working the North Rim.  At noon, the auction began.  We had a real auctioneer, and sales were fast and furious.  I believe every single piece was sold, and for more than the reserve and often for more than fair market price.  Having sold mine made my day.  I promptly bought a sandwich from the luncheon tent to celebrate.

At the Auction

 Afterward, I headed over to the Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection.  The curator graciously scheduled tours for artists and other interested parties, and she pulled out artworks that she thought we might like to see.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the two original Gunnar Widforss watercolors and an original Thomas Moran.  The Widforss works were intriguing because they are quite detailed yet still very painterly, and they were all done en plein air.  Gunnar must have been a very patient man with a steady hand and an eye that did not get lost while tracing the Canyon's complex topography.

After a respite, during which I did the usual post-event housekeeping chores such as cleaning brushes, I went off to the evening's event at the Kolb Studio.

The Kolb Studio sits perched on the South Rim overlooking the famous Bright Angel Trail.  The Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth, daredevil photographers, lived there.  Since some of our work is down in their living quarters, I got to take a tour.  What a view!  The Kolb brothers had a good thing going.

By 7 p.m., the Studio was packed with patrons.  I was delighted to sell my studio piece plus a couple of the  plein air pieces.

Saturday morning, the show will be rehung with the sold pieces removed and more pieces added.   Then at 11, the show opens to the general public.  (Come on down!)  I'll be there from 11 to 1, and then I'll be heading back to the airport and Campobello Island.

I have to thank the volunteers, the Grand Canyon Association staff and board members.  They put in a huge amount of time and labor to make this event a memorable and successful one for the artists.  Thank you, too, to the National Park Service who gave the artists special access to the Canyon.  And finally, I thank my wonderful hosts, who gave me the peace, quiet and support that a working artist needs at these events.  Thank you, Rick and Chris!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 7

(Thursday, Sept 15)

Morning came with drizzle, and if you listened very closely, you could hear 30 artists sigh all at once.  The weather certainly has been a challenge!  But by the time we got out to our appointed painting zone, the rain had stopped.  Little scraps of cloud drifted lazily in the dark Canyon.   Clearly, I wasn't going to finish my sunny-day painting at the 1730 million-year mark.  So, I set up near El Tovar where I could get coffee and started a new one.  I did a nice little painting of the drifting clouds, but then the Canyon experienced a rare phenomenon - fog.  It suddenly become completely filled with it.   I felt like I was back on Campobello Island, surrounded by the ocean.  And it wasn't long before El Tovar was enveloped, too.   In the photo below, my painting is "before" and what's behind it is "after."

The fog came and went.  I took many photographs of this sublime event.  Finally, as a fine drizzle began to fall, I found a rocking chair on  El Tovar's front porch and had a cup of coffee.  With still some time to paint - 10 was the deadline - I set up near Bill Cramer on the edge and did a 5x7 of a pillar of rock with a little tree atop, the whole thing jutting up out of the fog.  After looking at this painting later, I decided not to post it.  I paint a lot of fog on Campobello, and this one just didn't cut it.

Randy Higbee, King of Frame (, was in town to deliver frames to the event, so I went to pick up mine.  I'd met Randy earlier around dawn on my rim walk past the El Tovar.  Although he'd never seen Grand Canyon before and was no doubt disappointed at the lack of a glorious sunrise, he appreciated the unique photo op the weather provided.

Next, it was home to finish framing.  Here's the line up on the porch.  (At the end of the post are individual shots.)

I drove off to deliver my pieces to the Kolb Studio.  When I got to the parking lot, a terrific hail storm ensued, so I sat in my car for ten minutes.  After it passed, I opened my door to find I was parked in about eight inches of water.  After hauling my paintings in - and breathing a sigh of relief - I took one last drive up Hermit Road, since my pass was still good.  I ran across Joshua Been and Bill Cramer, each trying to make one last painting before the turn-in deadline.   Evening was coming on, and the light was beautiful, so I decided to join them.

 The day ended with a screening of Ed George's film, "Chasing the Light," which features painters Bruce Aiken and P.A. Nisbet on a rafting trip through the Canyon.  It was fun to see the Canyon from another perspective.

Tomorrow:  The Much-Feared Quick Draw.   Now, here are the paintings I'm entering.  (Five 9x12s and two 5x7s.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 6

(Wednesday, Sept 14)

A crisp, clear start to the morning again.  I didn't delay, but headed out around 6:30.  I stopped for a moment to take a walk from the Shrine of Ages to the rim, where I'd have an unobstructed view of the sky.  Things looked good, so I headed over to Yaki Point, where I wanted to resume work on the 9x12 knife painting from yesterday.

I decided first to find the spot I'd been in.  I parked, hiked in...and couldn't find it!  I did find a location that gave me a view of the formation I'd been painting, but it didn't look quite the same.  I double-checked the photo I'd taken of the scene, and sure enough, I wasn't in the right spot.  I ended up walking around about a half hour until I finally found it.  I think a GPS would be handy for painters who need to return to an exact location.  (And of course, I had a good one in the car, a Magellan Crossover which has topo maps in addition to road maps, but didn't think to use it in this way.  Next time!)

Ron Rencher, On Location

I guess my spot was a good one, because Ron Rencher was already there, painting the same formation.  I greeted Ron and told him what I was up to.   But the light wasn't right yet, so I went off to do a 5x7 first.   As I finished, the clouds began to build.   Seeing that the rain would probably come earlier than I'd hoped, I went to where Ron was painting and resumed work on the 9x12.  I did manage to get what I needed before the first clap of thunder.

5x7 Sketch

The 9x12 I Worked on for Two Days

I messed around with another tiny painting, but the rain got serious again.  That was it for me.  I had things to do besides paint.  My time here is nearly done, and I needed to review my paintings and start framing.  (There's still another morning of painting, but doing this today would save me time later; besides, the rain was becoming torrential, and there was pea-sized hail!)

But first, I had a tour of the artist-in-residence quarters above Verkamp's.  The Park has artists - not just visual artists, but also composers, writers and others - year-round.  The quarters are spacious and give stupendous views of the Canyon.  I'd love to do a residence some year.  They also have quarters on the North Rim, and having never been to the quiet North Rim, I'd probably choose to do one there.  The quarters are smaller, just a cottage, but it'd be a different place to paint.

After tweaking and framing in the safety of the porch - the rain came all afternoon - I rested a bit and then headed to the social gathering of the week.  The Grand Canyon Association threw a dinner party for the artists, judges, sponsors and GCA staff.  Park Superintendent David Uberuaga was also there.  Dinner was great and even included a vegetarian enchilada.  (Although my standards have loosened over the years, I try to eat vegetarian whenever possible.)  I had nice conversations with Cody Delong, Gregory Hull, Jim Wodark, Michael Obermeyer, William Scott Jennings, David Santillanes, and others.  Afterward, I actually found my way home in the dark.

Thursday, the artists are expected to paint on the Rim Trail from dawn until 10 a.m. between Mather Point and the Trailview Overlook.  I've got a spot picked out - a place I began a painting the other day - at the 1730 million-year-mark.  See you there!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 5

(Tuesday, Sept 13)

After a brief, early morning drizzle, the weather began to clear, so I headed up the West Rim Drive  toward a spot I liked near Hopi Point.  Along the way, I spotted a variety of artists along the trail, each intent on beating the now-predictable afternoon thunderstorms.  I arrived at Hopi Point at the same time as California artist Jim Wodark.  There seems to be a certain honor among plein air painters that if someone else has arrived at your spot, you move on.  But for Jim and I, it was like two cars arriving at a four-way stop at the same time - who goes first?  It wasn't a problem, though, as my spot was a few hundred yards up the trail.

I found a small pool of water right at the rim's edge.  It beckoned to me as something unusual, but not too unusual, to spice up what might otherwise be a trite canyon view.  I also went back to the painting knife, since that seems to keep things lively in the color department.  (This time, I've used Picasa's autocontrast feature on the painting images.  They look good to me, but your view may be different.)

Afterward, I decided to continue on up the road to see if I could find another knife painting.  I was feeling a bit tired, so it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do.  I should have taken a good long walk instead.  As it was, I started...and then the clouds moved in, toying with me.  I finally ended up scraping the painting and heading home for lunch.

After lunch and a good cup of coffee, I was ready to go again.  I headed up to Yaki Point, found myself a nice scene with some storm clouds boiling up over the North Rim.  After an hour, though, clouds boiled up over the South Rim, too.  The light vanished, and although I thought about continuing, my morning's lesson was still fresh in my mind.  What's more, Zeus had began hurling firebolts, too.  Since they were hitting a little too close for comfort, I packed up.  I had a very good start on this painting, and I'll go back tomorrow at the same time.

Elizabeth Black Demo

I went back to the El Tovar for the 4 p.m. demo.  This time, Boulder, Colorado, painter Elizabeth Black was on the docket.  I found out that while I was at Yaki Point, she was not too far away at Shoshone Point, and was 30 feet from a lightning strike there.  I remember hearing that particular blast, and was glad I was on the way to my car.  Plein air painting is not for the timid; between bees, hail, tornadoes, lightning strikes and hungry rock squirrels, the profession is rife with risks.

The sun broke out just as Elizabeth started her demo, and it was too good an opportunity to  miss.  After begging forgiveness, I retrieved my gear and set up near El Tovar.  I had about an hour to do a 5x7, which I was very happy with.  A few French-speaking tourists watched.  Although my French is nearly non-existent, I understood that they liked the painting, too.  Next year, I'll bone up on my French - and my German and French and maybe even learn a little Japanese, Italian and Polish.  I've heard all of these spoken since I arrived.

This little painting is in an Art Cocoon, a wet panel carrier that doubles as a container to hold the painting while I paint.  You can find out more at

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 4

(Monday, Sept 12)

Another bright, clear morning.  I decided it was time to drive out to Desert View, which is at the far eastern end of the Park and a good 25 miles away.  But on the way there, I decided to stop at Moran Point.  Moran Point, as you may recall, is named after the Hudson River School painter, Thomas Moran.  He not only painted the Hudson Valley but also spent time in the west on the payroll of the railroad, creating publicity images for their ad campaigns.  Moran Point has a particularly nice outcrop that offers good scenes from several angles.

Joshua Been at Moran Point

Fellow painter Joshua Been beat me to it.  He'd been there since 6:30; I arrived only a few minutes later.  Clouds had begun to move in again, and Josh was cursing the changing light.  A stiff breeze kicked  up, too.  I found my favorite spot down and to the right from where Josh was painting.  A juniper offered relief from the breeze, which had turned quite cool.  (It was 48 degrees.)  No sooner than I had the painting blocked in than the rain began to spit down.  It felt more like sleet!  A few minutes later, though, the sun returned, and I was able to finish it off.  This one is a knife painting.  I may do more of these this week.  It's hard to get muddy color with a knife.

Afterward, I drove on to Desert View.  Desert View has a tall watchtower, built by architect Mary Colter in 1932 for the Fred Harvey Company.  I didn't want to paint the tower, but instead the nice view of the Colorado River snaking down below it.  But the thunderheads had built up again, and the rain came down.  I sat in my car for a bit, trying to decide if I should move on to another location.  But soon the rain stopped, the sun came out, and I went to my perfect spot.

Two paintings before lunch is a work day for me.  I drove back slowly, checking out different pulloffs for views.  I stopped at Grandview Point and was surprised to see a big van unloading a bunch of tall guys, each with a French easel strapped to his back.  I inquired, and they said they are "space painters" - as in astronomy.  They were here to do some field sketches because the terrain looks somewhat like that of Mars.  What with the clouds and the imminent rain, I thought there was just too much atmosphere for any similarity.

Afterward, I sat on a rock with my sandwich and conversed with a raven, who was a little too interested in my meal.  Then it was back to my hosts' house, where I learned of a tornado warning.  A tornado had been spotted 10 miles south of Tusayan, heading east at 20 mph.  Tusayan is only 7 miles south of Grand Canyon, and the warning went out to the painters.   Although the tornado passed uneventfully, the rain continued, forcing the afternoon's demo onto the north porch of El Tovar.  I went out to watch Michael Obermeyer, who had just arrived from California.  Lucky for him, the weather finally began to move off as he began his demo.

Michael Obermeyer on El Tovar North Porch

We've certainly had some dramatic weather this week.  Mornings are best for painting.  But that's fine with me, because that's my favorite time of day!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 3

(Sunday, Sept 11)

The Grand Canyon is some 227 miles long, averages 10 miles wide and is about a mile deep.  I witnessed a thunderstorm on this day that seemed even bigger than that.  

After another night of torrential rain - it seemed to drum all night on the ceiling over my head - morning came clear and cool.  (By the way, I'm really enjoying the 50 degree mornings here.  It's much pleasanter than the 100-degree afternoons in Sedona!)  I grabbed a cup of coffee at the Yavapai Lodge Canyon Cafe, which opens at 6, and headed out on the West Rim Drive.  I finally settled on Trailview Overlook for some painting.  Linda Glover Gooch had already set up nearby.  Following proper plein air painter protocol, I said good morning to announce my arrival and then departed for a spot of my own.   As I do for each session, I texted my location to the event organizer, who conveys the information to the Visitor Center so tourists can find the painters.   As I painted, a few trail walkers stopped to watch and ask questions.  I'm always happy to talk a little bit as I paint, as I meet some nice people that way.  You never know who might become another painting student or your next collector!

The clouds began to build again as I worked.  I watched one storm slide over the San Francisco Peaks and Flagstaff, nearly 80 miles away.  By the time I finished, clouds had moved over me, and the good light was gone.  I drove on west and ran into Bill Cramer.  He'd found a small pulloff and was adjusting some paintings he'd done the day before.  Since I didn't feel like starting another one, I joined him, and tweaked Saturday's  paintings.

It still wasn't quite lunchtime, but I felt I was done for the day.  I find it important in these events to pace yourself.  I'd pushed my limit on the first day, and I was feeling it.  So, I drove on up to Hopi Point and took a walk.  I sat awhile on a bench, just looking at the view.  It was incredibly calming to do so.  It was just me, a rock squirrel and some chickadees.

The heavens broke open around noon.  Rain spattered down.  I hung out at my hosts' house, reading Over the Edge:  Death in Grand Canyon.  This hefty tome records, in excruciating and gut-wrenching detail, the variety of ways incautious visitors met their maker at the Canyon.  This is not something you want to read before going to bed.

When the rain stopped, I'd regained my energy and headed out to Yaki Point.  By the time I got there, a magnificent storm was boiling up to the west.  It was clearly heading my way.  But the light on the cliffs was magical, so I started a painting.   It wasn't long before this storm took on Canyonesque proportions.  Lightning bolts hammered down.  The clouds took on that weird shape and color that often come with tornadoes and hail.  As I packed up, the storm creeped closer and closer.  By the time I got to the car, tourists had lined up along the rim to gawk.  Every lightning strike was followed with a wave of oohs and aahs.  One lady was taking a movie of the lightning with her iPad.  I couldn't help but think of Death in Grand Canyon.  (It says, interestingly, that only a few people have been fatally struck here, and they've all been men; so she was probably safe.)  I drove down to the village with pea-sized hail hitting the windshield.

Dave Santillanes Demo

I wasn't sure if the 4 p.m. demo would happen, but the rain stopped, the sun came out and a double rainbow appeared.  Dave Santillanes of Colorado was the day's demonstrator.  He had a good start, but within the hour, the rain started again.  I went home to read more about people trying to hike 25 miles in 120-degree heat with only a jelly jar filled with water.

Below are today's pieces, both 9x12 oil.  Again, I'm not sure of the image quality.  On these, I used "autocontrast" in Photoshop.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 2

(Saturday, Sept 10)

After torrential rain Friday night, Saturday dawned clear and cool.  Friend and plein air festival artist Bill Cramer called me at 6 a.m. to ask where I wanted to paint.   It was still dark, but he was already in his car.   Although I'd already been up for a couple of hours, I hadn't had coffee or breakfast.   I'm no slacker, but I sure felt like one!

After a quick bowl of cereal and a quicker cup of coffee, I met Bill near Verkamp's, the old visitor center near the El Tovar lodge.  We pulled on our packs and hiked east along the Rim Trail for views.  And they were stupendous!  We'd heard a lot about smoke from fires - all lightning-caused - and were a little worried that this would impact our painting.  Nary a smoke molecule was to be seen.

Bill and I got separated and communicated by cell phone to ID our location to each other.  We used the "million mile" markers on the trail to help us.  The trail has little brass markers on it to identify the ages.  The idea is that you can walk back and forth through time.  At one point, I was painting at the 1730 million-years-ago mark, in the Paleoproterozoic era, when multicellular organisms were just coming into existence.   On the way back, we spotted two condors on the ledge below the trail.  They didn't seem to mind us watching them for awhile.

Bill Cramer at Work

After a lunch break, we headed over to Yaki Point.  By then, clouds were rolling in and rising up, and a few spots of rain fell.  I set up, anyway, and began to paint.  I'm glad I did, because the rain moved south of me, and I was able to paint as long as I wanted.   I had a few more curious onlookers at Yaki than I did on the Rim Trail; this was surprising, since Yaki is accessible only by shuttle bus (except for us lucky painters, who have been given special permission to drive in) and the trail near Verkamp's is in the heart of Tourist Land.

By 4 p.m., I was beat.  I'd made 2 1/2 paintings - one I need to go back to finish.  Every afternoon at 4, an artist is scheduled to give a public demonstration at Mather Point.  I drove over to watch Linda Glover Gooch paint.  I've met Linda before and was curious to watch her painting style.  She wields a knife and a brush simultaneously.  A thunderstorm was threatening, but it held off for the demo. Afterward, I pushed myself and headed over to Yavapai Point to do a little rain painting - a 5x7 - of the thunderstorm crossing the canyon to the west.  I packed up when the lightning started to get a little close.

Linda Glover Gooch Demo

Below are two of the paintings from the day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim - Day 1

(Friday, Sept 9)

I am now at the Grand Canyon.  I'm here for the Grand Canyon plein air painting event, which runs from now through Saturday, September 17.

I arrived around lunchtime and, after checking in with my hosts, explored for a few hours before our orientation session.  I didn't feel like painting just yet, but more like taking photographs.  Although I'd been to the Canyon only last April to paint, I thought it would be a good idea to get back the feeling for the lay of the land.

I visited Yavapai Point, where the geology museum is located, and Mather Point, home of the new visitor center and Grand Canyon Association bookstore.  (The GAC is the organizer of the Celebration of Art's "Plein Air on the Rim" event.)  I was surprised that, at the start of a weekend, there were still parking spots available.  But the number of visitors do drop off after Labor Day at most tourist destinations.  Still, there were plenty of people around, very few of whom were speaking English.

I must have walked three hours.  The skies were beautiful.  Unsettled weather --  we're still in monsoon season -- caused some magnificent thunderheads to build up over the North Rim, a few miles away.  I also caught sight of a condor.  Many people don't know it, but the National Park Service has re-introduced condors to the area.  They are the largest bird in the world.  But against the backdrop of the Canyon, they look quite tiny.

At orientation, I got to meet some of the other artists and to find out about the week's schedule.  (View the schedule here.)   I caught up with my friends David Haskell, Gregory Hull and Bill Cramer, too.   I'm looking forward to painting with them and the other artists.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Heading Off to the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art

"Overhang" 9x12, oil

Here's a painting I recently made in one of my Campobello Island plein air workshops.  I am posting it now because it may be the last maritime painting you see from me for awhile!

I am about to head off to the Grand Canyon.  As my loyal followers know, I am one of 30 painters invited to participate in "Plein Air on the Rim."  I'm very honored to be a part of this event, now in its third year.  I'll be meeting some old friends, plus making some new ones.

I'll be getting to Arizona a few days early to run some errands but, most of all, to acclimate.  I'll be coming from sea level but painting at 7000 feet!  Although I don't intend to do any serious hiking, I do want to be able to paint all day and to hike down into the canyon for a few unusual scenes.  Although I've painted at the Canyon before, this will be a bit different in that it is a competition with awards, and I want to do my best work.  Also, as one of the artists, I'll be getting special permission to go where the public isn't allowed, and I'm excited at the prospect of exploring some new spots.

The event starts on Friday, September 9, with orientation.  Then we'll be painting until Thursday, September 15, on which day we'll have a group paintout at Mather Point where the public can catch us all in action at once.  That evening, we'll take our best work to the Kolb Studio for the hanging.  On Friday the16th, we'll participate in the Quick Draw event at the Kolb Studio.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of the Quick Draw, this is "painting under pressure."  We'll have only two hours to paint, frame and deliver our quick draw pieces - all the while with the public milling around.  Following the Quick Draw, there'll be an auction of these pieces at noon at El Tovar.  Later that afternoon comes the judging and, that evening, the Buyers' Preview Reception.  (You'll need a ticket for this.)  Finally, on Saturday the 17th, the exhibition opens to the general public with award announcements.  It sounds like a full schedule!

I'll do my best to post to my blog while I'm there.   In the meantime, for more information on the event, visit

Happy trails!