Saturday, September 13, 2014

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art - Day 1

A Beautiful Sunrise for Saturday

Friday evening was Orientation Night and Canvas Stamping for the 25 invited artists. After getting our panels stamped with the official stamp, hobnobbing with other artists and a sumptuous catered supper, we all settled down. Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga welcomed us, and then we got the details for the week from GCA staff.  And what a week it will be! This year, we'll have an extra painting day. We'll paint from Saturday through next Friday - that's seven full days - plus the Quick Draw event on the final Saturday.

I got to bed early at my hosts' house, seeing as I had agreed to meet some of the painters at 6 or 6:30 a.m. at Yaki Point. Saturday morning, I was up at 4. That sounds early, but when you consider the preparation that goes into getting ready for a day of painting, it isn't. I just barely made it to Yaki Point by the scheduled time. ML Coleman was already there, and we were soon joined by Bill Cramer, Jim Wodark and Hai-Ou Hou.

Jim Wodark

Bill Cramer

ML Coleman

One of the great things about this event is that the artists get special permission to take their cars into places where only the shuttle buses can go. Yaki Point is one. It's one of my favorite spots because the variety of views from the point make great painting from sunup to sundown. Speaking of sunup, we had a fantastic sunrise. A few clouds made for an interesting sky, and they continued to build throughout the day, giving us some really nice shadows to paint.

Although I've brought some big canvases with me - 12x16s and 14x18s - I wanted to do a little warm-up first. Because the last workshop I taught was all pastel, I haven't painted in oil in about three weeks! So, I started with 9x12s. I painted one looking west and a second, looking east. I was happy enough with these that I went out to lunch with Jim, Bill and Hai-Ou at the Market Plaza.

Yaki Point, West View 9x12 oil

Yaki Point, East View 9x12 oil
My Office for the Morning

By the time we'd finished lunch, the day had really started to warm up. Even in mid-September, the sun at 7000 feet at this latitude is very intense, and I'm sure we were pushing 80. (Well, it certainly felt like it!) The middle of the day isn't a great time to paint, anyway, since the light in the canyon is very flat then, so I went back home and did a few chores on the computer.

At 3, it was time to head for Mohave Point. Located on the West Rim Drive - another route that requires a special permit - it's a wonderful location for late in the day and sunsets. I'd agreed to meet Bill and some of the others there. When I arrived, it still felt hot, so I found some shade and whipped off a little 5x7 of cloud shadows. (These 5x7s sold really well the last time I was here, so I am making sure to do a few for the sale.) The shadows were lovely on the canyon floor.

Two hours before sunset, it was time to pull out a big one. Well, I still held off on the 14x18s - I chose a 12x16 instead. I had a great view of the Colorado River and the cliffs to the west, but the sun was starting to angle down, and I was fighting it the whole time. The angle was such that my shirt was casting a glare on the paint; and the sun was in my eyes. I'd brought along an umbrella from some online art supply store - it doesn't have a brand, and I got it a few years ago and never used it - and immediately discovered it is utterly useless. I tossed it aside. (I wish I had brought my Best Brella, but that is back on Campobello Island.)  Once I got the block-in done, though, I felt comfortable enough with the progress that I felt it was okay to seek shade, even though that meant changing my viewing angle.

Mohave Point, Toward Sunset 12x16 oil

I'm still undecided on this piece, but I may feel differently in a day or two. I don't think it's a "scraper" - not yet, anyway. Sometimes it's pretty obvious when a piece has gone into the ditch. But sometimes there's something about a painting that was a struggle that stays the executioner's hand.  (The photo doesn't do the painting justice, by the way.)

It was almost sunset by the time I finished. I was packing up, but then I saw one of the other painters who asked if I was going to do another one. The light was indeed beautiful, and we had maybe 45 minutes of day left to work by. I pulled out another 5x7 and painted a little abstraction of the sunset. I like this one.

The images I'm offering with my blog posts this week have gone through some hoops to get here, so I'm not sure how they look to you. They go from my camera SD card to my Chromebook; from Chromebook to Google Picasa; then, because Google is Google and has its own reasons for what it does, they go from Picasa to Google+ for editing, where I crop and tweak them a bit; then they get downloaded to Google Drive (which, as far as I can tell, isn't on my Chromebook but somewhere in the "Cloud"); then they finally get uploaded to Blogger. It is a long journey, and I am sure these images have little adventures on the way and thus look a little travelworn. When I get back to my studio, I'll look at them again and replace them as needed. So, please keep in mind that these paintings look a whole lot better in person!

Now it's time for bed. Tomorrow, several of us will hit Hopi Point at dawn.

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