Sunday, September 11, 2016

Grand Canyon 2016 - Part 2

Sunday, 11 Sept 2016

Saturday afternoon, after a midday break, I decided to hit the Hermit Road. Clouds were building up, and I was eager to see what they would do. In previous years, we’ve had good monsoon weather. If you’re not familiar with the monsoons of the Southwest, basically it’s a season (July-September) of moisture from the Pacific moving over Arizona and New Mexico. The monsoons are typified by clear mornings followed by a quick build-up of thunderstorms around noontime. These storms bring welcome but often violent rain, accompanied by lightning, flash floods and sometimes hail. The Rim, and especially the high Hermit Road, can be a dangerous place as it is very exposed to lightning.

The forecast for this week, however, has none of that. But clouds were building, and I always welcome them. They add movement and thus interest to the sky. They also provide relief from the sun, which is intense here at 7000 feet.

This time of year, the Hermit Road is closed to private traffic and access is only by shuttle buses. But not for event artists! We are given a much-coveted permit and a secret code that gets us through the gate. (Trust me, you don’t want us trying to get all our gear and supplies onto a shuttle bus!) I do try to stay humble though.

The Hermit Road is about 7 miles long. I stopped about halfway out at Mohave Point. I’ve painted here many times. There’s a view I like where I can see the Colorado and some of the amazing rapids. I painted this 16x12 of that view, from a slightly different angle from what I have done before. The clouds cast beautiful shadows over the 5,000-foot cliffs, but these were tricky to paint because the clouds were moving. I had to pick-and-choose a moment in time that best featured the river.

I completed three paintings that day, and I was ready for a break. I took a walk along the trail there to the Abyss (you can imagine what this looks like) and then headed back to town. The day was moving toward sunset, and I wanted to visit Yavapai Point, a place popular with tourists for sunsets, and maybe paint the evening light.

John Cogan, James Trigg

But the clouds thickened, and the light vanished. I ran into John Cogan and James Trigg, and we ended up having pizza together and talking about galleries, Spanish land grants and digital SLRs. The best artists can discuss more than just painting.

Sunday morning, I got another early start. John, James and I had decided we’d all paint out at Yaki Point, at my suggestion. Yaki has great views, and because it is a point, you can usually find someplace out of the wind, if you are expecting wind. (And at Grand Canyon, you should always expect wind!) I hiked out to one of my favorite spots and took my time thinking about what I wanted to do. I decided to haul out my French easel and do a vertical 24x12. The view had started off very hazy, but by the time I was ready to paint, the haze had cleared and we had a glorious day ahead of us.

This painting took a long time but went smoothly. One problem with oil paint is that, in situations with a lot of light (e.g. Grand Canyon), it can cause a glare. I was fortunate to have a little rock shelf right behind me that I could stand on now and then and change my viewing angle to eliminate the glare. Also, because this painting was so tall, I was glad to have the rock to stand on so I could paint the top half of the panel.

I just had a quick meal at the Market, and now it’s break time. In a bit, I’ll head back up the Hermit Road to the Abyss. There’s a feature I want to paint there. It’s getting windy, though, and you can never tell what it’ll be like at the Abyss. It channels the wind in strange ways.

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