What a marvelous week we are having in Zion National Park. We joined about 22 other artists for the 2nd Invitational Plein air art event celebrating Tomas Moran’s visit to Zion Canyon. Sales from the show and quick draw will benefit the Zion National Park Foundation. The gorgeous Majestic View Lodge provided our wonderful accommodations for the week.
Things kicked off Monday with a quick breakfast for the artists at the Mean Bean in Springdale (the fresh apricot scones are to die for). After an introduction and directions from show organizer Anne Weiler-Brown the artists headed out in different directions to find the ideal painting spots. Lucky for us the Canyon Cottonwoods and Red Maples all turned on cue this week providing a myriad of colorful vistas to choose from. For me it’s like a kid in a candy store. To have a full week in Zion, with no restrictions, and paint kit in hand — I’m one happy boy!
Monday I got started with a quick small study of the West Temple from Pine Creek, then moved on up to Heaps Canyon where the yellow Cottonwoods added a fresh glow to the red cliffs. I did a sketchbook value study to determine my composition then launched into the painting. I used my Anderson easel, and folding chair to make things very comfortable.
Tuesday we drove up to East Zion for a day painting in one of my favorite spots near Checkerboard Mesa. The fall colors were perfect and the weather was toasty. I did a few studies in both my sketchbook and in watercolor of some of the gnarly old Junipers.
At lunch I met Nellie at the Clear Creek Guest Ranch just outside the East entrance, where my son Jon is the manager. We had a nice visit with my grandkids who are in heaven living at that wonderful place.
This morning I got moving early before the sun came up and climbed the hill behind our hotel where I set up my easel awaiting the sunrise. Experience had told me that the first rays of sun would light up West Temple and the Three Marys in a spectacular display of reds. I started my sketch while it was just getting light and laid in the basic washes on the cliffs, sky and foreground. By the time the sun peaked over Johnson Mountain I was poised and ready to slap on the yellows and oranges. I only had about 20 minutes before the shadow crawled all the way down the face, so I worked as fast as I could. The air warmed considerably as the sun bathed the entire valley but I continued to work on the painting until I felt good about it.
Still full of enthusiasm I headed up Canyon where I sketched some sacred Datura flowers, and did a small study of the East face Zion from just outside the entrance to the Park. After lunch I found a pastoral, but vibrant spot at a little waterfall on Pine Creek and used my tiny portable paint set to do a nice study. The warm air, cool babbling creek, and bright yellow leaves all around just seemed too perfect. Indeed I felt very lucky.
This afternoon we got together with a few of the collectors who are providing purchase awards. Hal and Julie Anderson selected my painting “Angel’s Walk” from the studio show in the Museum as their purchase. Hal also serves on the board of directors of Zion Natural History Association.
We came by to see the amazing watercolors. Arrived a little before 5 and had to talk our way in as they were closing. The kids were so excited to see two ribbons next to Grandpa's paintings. Sorry we missed you. We took a nature walk by the river and timed it perfectly for exiting the park at magic time. The sun broke through and the colors were dazzling. We were even lucky enough to watch a bighorn ram standing proud in the last light near the east entrance. I kept telling the kids "this is our backyard". They loved every minute and didn't want to leave.
Fall in Zion- I'm so glad you guys are there! Your beautiful descriptions and pictures made me feel like I was there. Thanks for the trip! :)