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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Day 37: Crystal Falls and Devil's Den (7/11/15)

Crystal Falls

This morning I set off on the North Rim Trail and found am amazing view of Crystal Falls. It wasn't too crowded on the North Rim, and less so at my little overlook. Traffic picked up during the day but not enough to be overwhelming. I really don't mind people talking to me while I work. I think it helps keep me stay focused too. I like meeting people, and like I've said, I've met people from all over the world. Today I met a group of college students from New York here taking a class (felt like a celeb, one guy really wanted my "autograph"), an art teacher from New York, a family with two teachers and two sons from California, a couple working at Yellowstone this summer, and several kids who described my painting as: "it looks JUST LIKE the real thing!" which is a high compliment from youngsters. One man I met, a lawyer from Florida, is actually buying this painting! So that is awesome x10! I'm sure anyone who's an artist will tell you it's not about making money (I mean, some of it is) but it's really about pursuing a passion. I would still make art even if nobody ever wanted to buy it from me, and even if nobody liked it (but it would be immensely more challenging...I've read enough about Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet and the impressionists not to really want that life). So when someone who doesn't even know me personally says, "hey, I like that. And I like it enough to buy it from you," that is pretty surreal. Thank you again, Mr. Millsaps.

The view of the falls I had was a bit higher than Moran's (and Jackson's) view. You can see in the pictures below how much taller the falls look from my vantage point. I asked a ranger about this...did the canyon really grow deeper under these falls in the past 150ish years? No, he said, but the rate of water over the falls does change. So I think they must have been lower in the canyon, and the falls are foreshortened from their perspective. I don't know if my photos illustrate...but how/ where the heck did they get into this canyon?! Another question for a ranger. Anytime I go near an edge it's pretty much a straight, eroded slide down and no hopes of getting back out. Sitting here working most of the day made me an "expert" on the area. Are these the upper falls? No, keep going until you hit a road, and follow it to upper falls. Which falls are these? Crystal falls, running out of Cascade Creek, into the Yellowstone River. At some point a family came up, not quite out to where I was, and said Oh this is Cascade Falls. Oh swear word, I thought...I'm sitting here like an idiot painting the WRONG FALLS. But I consulted my map again, and confirmed, Crystal Falls. So all was well.

It was a challenging painting and brought back memories of painting rocks in Acadia for the first time, and painting Kaaterskill Falls in New York. Rocks are just a doozy to paint. There is a ton of information and the colors don't always make sense. I can't really explain it other than there is a lot of detail and texture. How did Moran do it.

After finishing the painting I went back to my car to grab some food and water. Oh and it started raining right before I got to my car so my timing was impeccable. There was a bison in the field in front of my car - couldn't really see the bison, but did see the millions of tourists coming and going to get their photo of the animal. I think Yellowstone more than the other parks is a great place to view wildlife, and that's what a lot of people want to see when they come here. I like seeing the wildlife, but I'm not going to drive around the park trying to spot a bear. I would like to see a bald eagle though, because Dan loves bald eagles. Anyway, after watching the frenzy I went back out to find Devil's Den, which a ranger told me did used to exist on Cascade Creek. I got the the creek but there's only a small part of the creek accessible on the trail. The creek goes further up and there are two hikes along it, but I think Devil's Den used to be along the inaccessible stretch. I was trying to find Moran's watercolor, or a similar scene, but nothing really matched. So I saw this cave-ish thing where the water flowed down before the waterfall and thought, that looks pretty mysterious. In fact, it looks pretty devilish. I shall call it...Devil's Den. So I painted a watercolor there with minimal success. Not heartbroken about it or anything, just didn't really capture the scene. I needed an ink pen to add in some details I think.

Anyway, overall a great/challenging day of painting, and tomorrow I move on to the big kid falls on the Yellowstone.

Cascade Creek
Crystal Falls
Start of my painting...blocking in the big shapes and dark values. Lighter colors get layered over darker colors.
Artsy brush pic.
Beautiful falls again...they are more delicate (like crystal) than the roaring upper and lower falls.
Crystal Falls - sold to a lawyer from Florida!
"Crystal Falls" by William Henry Jackson. They seem much shorter than today...could the canyon have eroded that much in 150 years? Or maybe they are foreshortened from view at the base.
"Crystal Falls" by Thomas Moran. Same view of the same subject lets us know he and Jackson really did work side by side on the expedition.
Perfect spot...not too crowded, not too lonely, and obviously perfect view.
Perfect spot...not too crowded, not too lonely, and obviously perfect view.
What I dubbed the "devil's den" since access to Cascade Creek is limited along the only trail through here.
Quick evening watercolor.
Eh not my favorite, but I got the gist of it.
Thomas Moran's "Devil's Den on Cascade Creek." I think this view is somewhere on the stretch with no trail access. The den I found is much more devilish anyway.
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.



  1. Well, you could always stay in the same spot and sell a painting a day!
    Very nice, Em!

    1. Thanks aunt sue! It's nice to be in national parks where people are on vacation making great memories. :)

  2. I showed my dad the painting you just sold and he said "is she really that good" (no dad, it's all a big hoax) "you know, she should paint Niagara Falls" (she did, dad) "oh" (being home is great)

  3. Somehow I missed this post too! Beautiful painting! The lawyer obviously has a good eye for an excellent painting! Congrats on the sale!
    Keep up the great work!
    Love, mom