Saturday, January 5, 2013

Special Workshop Week: Exploring the Verde Valley

Hippy Bus in Winter, 9x12, oil

Throughout the winter, I am offering some special plein air painting workshops as part of my Paint Sedona program.  This past week, it was "Exploring the Verde Valley."  The idea was to move out of Sedona - even though everyone loves the beautiful red rocks - to explore some of the Verde Valley's other treasures.  We still painted in Sedona, but we also painted along Spring Creek and up in Jerome, and we also took some reference photos in places like Tuzigoot National Monument and along the Verde River.

Winter Trees, 12x9, oil

We had cold starts to the morning each day.  At our house, the temperature was routinely hitting 15° F (more or less), every day.  But because of the incredibly clear air, temperatures rebounded quickly into the high 40s.  That may not sound warm to some, but in the sunshine and with no wind, it was quite pleasant.  We all agreed it was pretty perfect for outdoor painting.  Plus, in some of the shady spots, there were still some scraps of snow hanging on from the previous week's storm.  A little bit of snow can be just the thing to liven up a painting.

Probably the richest painting spot was the Gold King Mine Ghost Town just up the Perkinsville road from Jerome.  Imagine over six acres of antique cars, ambulances, fire engines and buses, plus a variety of work trucks from the mining days!  It's really a "little boy's playground."  Don Robertson, the owner - he hit is 70th birthday the day we were there - gave us a tour of the grounds and showed us his pride and joy, a souped-up, 1928 Studebaker "Indy" car.  I personally took over a hundred photos as I strolled the grounds.  For painting, I finally settled on a modified travel bus.  I don't know what aficionados of antique vehicles call it, but I'm calling it a hippy bus.

You can check my schedule at to see when the other special workshops are scheduled.  One I should mention especially is my "pastel-only" workshop March 12-15.  There are only two spots left in that, so hurry!

Below are a few photos for the week, including an early stage of my "Hippy Bus in Winter" sketch.

Hippy Bus in Winter - mid-stage
Le déjeuner sur l'herbe
Painting along Spring Creek
Painting in Jerome
John H. Burrow at work
Why I love Jerome (and see the pics below!)

Don Robertson's 1928 Studebaker


Anonymous said...

The mining vehicles look in good shape considering passage of time. Great pics. Makes me nearly wanting to go there.

Scott Ruthven said...

Hi Michael,
That looks like such a cool place. I would have been taking lots of reference pics too! One question: it looks like you're painting on you coat it with Shellac or something first?
Thanks, Scott

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Hi Scott - Thanks for your note. Actually, this is hardboard (same as Masonite, a brand that is not made anymore). I put one coat of Gamblin's PVA size on it followed by two coats of Blick's acrylic gesso.

Scott Ruthven said...

Thanks Michael.