Moab…this is such a beautiful place. From the moment I drove down into the Colorado River valley that holds this town I was in awe of the overwhelming beauty. Extreme describes it….cliffs in reds and yellows, intense skies something different to look at all around you . . I went to Moab to participate in the Plein Air Moab painting event Oct 7-15. The event includes 3 quick draw sessions, a main competition, a paint out, receptions and more. The Moab Art and Rec Center (MARC) is hosting their 2nd plein air. The team that organized this were incredible. Everything; every event ran like clock work. One day the quick draw was at the Castle Valley Winery where we painted on their property and submitted it to the show and sale. for 3 hours, we painted ,then framed. Two more quick draws on other days happened downtown Moab with same rules and events. The final event was the main competition – a painting of the artist’s choice that they had completed during the time in Moab. Other paintings could be displayed for sale at the MARC as well…but only one entered into the competition. Friday night we entered the MARC to one room filled with the artists’ best work. Many had signs on them “Award Winning Painting”. I looked for mine and it was included in that catagory! That’s the icing on the cake!
During the paint out, several pieces of art sold which wonderful – since that is the ultimate goal! But it is also equally important to develop new friendships and learn new things from fellow artists, judges, etc.
And there is taking some risks in our work, try new techniques and see as much of the area and photograph as much as you can for future reference. I had shied away from driving the LaSal Loop which is a road that takes you south of Moab, then westerly over some mountain passes, down into the Castle Valley and back to Moab via Hwy 128. The first while I was in Moab, the weather was cold and stormy with snow on the mountains, so that detered my thoughts of doing this drive in the mighty Prius. However with warm weather for several days, the snow had all but disappeared so I decided that I would drive at least part way up the pass to get some views of colorful fall leaves and different terrain. I soon found that it the road was really steep and narrow and I wasn’t comfortable trying to turn around on the narrow roads and minimal turn-outs…so I kept driving over the passes, a little timidly on the ascents and descents with switchbacks at a max of 10 mph. It was beautiful and when one was atop each of the passes, the view below was incredible. I admit that when I saw the familiar terrain of the Castle Valley, I breathed a sigh of relief! Once I got down into the valley, I decided I would paint one more work so elected to paint a scene near Onion Creek…a stream that barely runs water when the weather is dry…but is one that carries water that is poisonous leeched with selenium, arsnic and saline. The creek bed has no vegetation and it is strangely quiet with no birds in the immediate area.
Saturday came with the realization that the stay in Moab was coming to an end. Work was to be picked up at the MARC at 6 that evening. In the morning I stopped in to listen to the judged talk about the work selected for awards and decided that I would go somewhere and paint one more session. Sandi who organized the event came up to me and asked what I was doing for the day. I told her and she asked if she could go with. Happily I invited her and we drove up Kane Creek beyond where one leaves the Colorado and heads up another canyon. We painted and visited for about 2 hours. It was the perfect way to end a great 10 day visit to this spot.
Sunday morning I was ready to head out for points south into New Mexico. I stopped at the little cafe that sells great Moab coffee, grabbed a 16 oz cup, bid farefwell to the MARC and headed down 191 to southerly points….
Leaving the Palouse I decided to take the scenic ID byway down 95 to the 55, through Riggings, McCall, New Meadow to Boise. The drive is slow but scenic following the Salmon River with rafters, fly fishermen, drift boats gracing the water. You travel down the White Bird Hill which is an incredible long grade that takes you out of Camas Prairie to the canyons below of the Salmon and near the Snake Rivers. At McCall you follow Payette Lake as you drive through town, again a higher elevations. I stayed in Boise and left fairly early to go to Salt Lake City and visit my friend Sue Martin. Having never taken the time to stop along I 84 to see some of the points of interest, I decided this time I would. I visited the Malad Canyon State Park and walked the trails to edge of the canyon through which the Snake River flows far below. At the vistors center there is a narrow walking bridge that you can walk across near the falls. I managed to get nearly half way across before my dislike of heights beckoned me back to solid ground!
Getting in to SLC and meeting Sue about 5, we headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to see some color and scout out some painting sites for the next day. Afater a great dinner we headed back to SLC. The next morning rain and wind prevented a plein air painting expedition, but Sue graciously shared her studio space and we worked on some paintings. Later visited a couple of great galleries and attended the Utah Watercolor Society meeting and watched a demo by Christopher Schenk. There are some really great artists in the area showing quality work and it was a pleasure and treat to be able to see it.
I am anxious to get to Moab and get a view of the area I am going to be painting in for the next 10 days. It is so windy with the storms traveling through the area. Leaving this morning early, I decided to take a longer route to Moab and drove I15 to 50 to I 70 and then to 191… Lots of stops along I 70 to take photos of the majestic sandstone cliffs and canyons. Moab is in a beautiful valley adjacent to Arches National Park near the Colorado River. It is chilly and windy today so did not lend to painting out of doors. I am anticipating later in the week it warms up when the plein air event starts! I did take a short drive into Arches late in the afternoon to see some of its majesty. I hoped to see some Bighorn Sheep, but they must have been seeking shelter from the winds and sprinkles of rain. This area is just a painting waiting to happen…in any direction. Will scout some places for painting tomorrow and maybe get some done as well. I have faith the stormy weather passes through and leaves us in warm fall and sunny weather. So now it is about getting settled in my casita and plan some car trips to seek painting spots….
Last Wednesday I embarked on a journey to painting and drawing in various areas. First stop was the plein air event “Plein Air Palouse” in Moscow, ID. For 3 days 25 painters spent time out and about in the heart of the Palouse painting rural and urban scenes in and around Moscow. This was the 2nd plein air event for Moscow and they are an enthusiastic, warm, welcoming group. Thursday I drove north of Moscow toward Potlatch looking for my landscape representational of the Palouse. Driving down Walker Road, I found it. At the top a hill was an ideal plein air painting spot…a nice place to pull over, some stacked old bales of hay and a view looking north of fields, hills, barns and timber that is characteristic of the Palouse. I pulled over and painted a 12×16 of a view finders cropped field of view of the valley. About 3 hours later, I am satisfied with the result. I snapped several photos of the area for future paintings and headed back to Moscow, happy with the painting expedition! Friday morning I decided to paint urban and wanted to paint some historic building. Like many small towns, Moscow has a Carnegie Library with unique architecture and style. And the beautiful thing is, when they decided they needed more space, they didn’t destroy the original building, they added onto it but kept the itegrity of the original building. So this sort of Tuscan style building sits on the corner of Jefferson and 2nd in all is originial glory. I paint it. While I am there painting in the shade and solitude of the Library, the reporter and photographer from the Daily News come by and spend 20-30 minutes visiting and taking photos of me painting. Saturday morning one of the photos and a really good article about the plein air event and me graced the front page and more of the paper. Late Friday I drove up to the U of I campus and parked in a parking area currently abandoned, but with a great view of the U of I farm. There are a series of beautiful, well maintained barns and I wanted to paint them in the evening light. I did a 9×12 of the large barn and horses under a coral tinged sky. I was pretty happy with the results, put it in a frame and forgot to photograph it.
Saturday was spent at the Farmer’s Market downtown. I did a bunch of sketching and photos. Great people watching! In the afternoon all the paintings were delivered to City Hall to hang in their gallery complete with reception. It was a great time and lots of discussion ensued regarding the event and how to improve it. The enthusiasm of the group is one thing that needs no improvement. They are gracious hosts and willing to help the artists as they could. Kudos to Kathleen and DJ. The best thing was meeting several new artists and visiting with them about our works.
So this was the first stop on my art quest journey. I leave Moscow Sunday and head south to UT with a couple of stops along the way…More photos of my journey will be posted on Facebook