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Friday, July 17, 2015

Day 40: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone near Point Sublime (7/14/15)

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Today I parked at Artist Point and hiked out past the insanely busy and crowded Artist Point. There was a pastel artist working there, but he was so surrounded by people I couldn't really say anything to him. He seemed a bit stand offish too...well, that's not a fair thing to say, because he was probably just trying to get his drawing done. It is difficult to be approachable and engrossed in your work at the same time (but I hope I'm approachable).

I didn't make it to Point Sublime, as I had planned, but everyone who passed me on the way there told me on the way back that I had a better view. So I made a good call stopping early. Soon after I started I realized this was going to be a very challenging painting. It is a good thing I wasn't too far off the path s good number of hikers took to Point Sublime because I needed distractions. I met a couple from Whales and a Georgetwon grad student, and a couple, Ron and Ruth, whom I had met yesterday. They are retired from San Fransisco and sold their house and now travel all over the world. They gave me their unused shower voucher at the Canyon campground which was super nice since showers are about $4.00. Now I could enjoy an ice cream cone guilt free. Okay not totally guilt free. Anyway, I talked to Ron and Ruth about their travels for a while and it was so neat to hear about all the places they've been...China, Cambodia, Phillipines, all over Europe, all over the U.S. It made me think of how cool my own parents are, newly enjoying their retirement by cycling all around the Midwest with loaded panniers.

I continued struggling through the painting. I was on the rim working on it for about seven hours. I think I'm in the pre-stages of a cold too. The painting was kind of stuck in a not-quite-finished-but-still-so-much-left-to-do stage for a while. Then I put on my big girl pants and finished it up. This painting was my EVEREST. I've used that term lightly before...I really mean it now. My hat goes off to Moran for recreating this canyon on a massive canvas. He combined sketches and memories of the canyon, so you can't see exactly the scene he painted, but I saw the pieces in the canyon that he put together. The streaks of color, the unique rock towers, the textures and colors of the rock faces. He really did a magnificent job piecing it together and painting an experience of the canyon.

The second landscape painting I ever tried to do was an 18x24 (or maybe 16x20) vertical landscape of the canyon using photos from my family's trip here many years ago. I feel better about the paintings failure, because I now know how ambitious that was in scale and subject matter for an inexperienced landscape painter. Several people I met while I was painting commented on the changing light. This felt similar to painting in Maine...I'd best focused on one area of the painting that it took me by surprise when I got to the end and found the tide had risen significantly. When I was working on the foreground of the painting, I looked back up and saw the bright colorful canyon was now cast in shadows and the colors looked much different. For this painting the shifting sun worked perfectly for my composition. When I started painting, all parts of the canyon were well lit, and the layers of the canyon were competing with each other to be seen "first." So I started with the brightest and farthest away part of the canyon, and by the time I got to the other two sections front of it, they were in shadow, which hightlighted the part I'd already finished. Then when I got to the rocks in the foreground, they were lit, which contrasted with the middle ground shadows. By the time I got to the middle and foreground I was not as interested in detail as I had been when I started. I remembered Moran's painting The Three Tetons that Dan and I saw at the Met. The foreground you could still see underpainting, and it was very loose, but it worked well to highlight the more detailed mountains in the background. So I think I ended up employing something similar here. Thomas Moran is really challenging me.

I hiked back to my car not even wanting to look at the canyon - everytime I did my eyes and brain hurt from the bright colors and complexity of the canyon. I did not think it was possible, but I believe I wore out my optic nerves. I drove to Canyon Village where I really wanted a soup and salad. I put my name in at the restaurant and sat down to wait the half hour for a table (for one) (the loneliest number) when Ruth came up to me! She invited me to come eat with her and Ron. So I had a great non-lonely dinner with Ron and Ruth, who told me more about their worldly travels and paid for my soup and salad bar dinner. And then I went and took my gifted shower. I have met some wonderful, generous, kind people on this trip.

Pastel artist at Artist Point. Braver than I...there were so many people around him I couldn't even say hi.
This one's for you, Katherine Colborn!
And this one.
Looking back at this photo all I can say is WOW!
An artist-adventurer at the canyon.
Funky rocks.
Bright, warm colors.
Might come back and paint the eastern side of the canyon, even though Moran never did.
The rocks get funkier and funkier.
A beautiful spot to stop and paint...even if I wasn't at my destination of Point Sublime.
Selfie at the canyon!
An artsy, pensive, black and white selfie as I took a break to ponder the meaning of life. JK, I ate a snack.
My studio at the canyon.
Paint palette. Aka procrastinating.
It was kind of stuck here for a while. I was tired and ready to be done.
But I am not a quitter! Persevered and finished. Very challenging painting.
That's a big rack you have there, sir.






















  1. First off, thanks for still thinking we are cool parents! ha!
    Your finished painting is remarkable! Absolutely stunning! And, your photos, even when procrastinating, are amazing. Then, I wasn't sure if I was looking at your painting or a photo of your painting because your painting is so real!
    Also, thanks for sharing the pastel artists drawing and plethora of pastels!
    Hooray for Ron and Ruth! Just know that pleasant people attract pleasant people...thus you are meeting some very pleasant people!
    Take care of that cold and carry on!
    Love, mom

  2. 1) Your selfies are adorable
    2) I'm in love with that fellow's pastel setup.... Someday when I have an unlimited time and money....