Thursday, July 30, 2015

Zion Update 1.0

Zion Canyon, 4"x8", oil sketch on Ampersand panel

When I'm preparing for a new adventure -- one that involves going somewhere I've never been before -- I begin with some research. Oh, I'm not one of those who plans out every moment of every day. I'm too big a fan of serendipity, and enjoy the magic one discovered in the totally unexpected too much to give into regimentation. But it is nice to have a starting point, a framework to hang the unexpected discoveries on.

Zion Canyon (preliminary study for the oil sketch above), 
6"x8", w/c over Sakura pen & ink

Artistically speaking, I like to polish the technical skills and studio practices (even if my "studio" is going to be primarily the Great Outdoors) well in advance of my departure. Oh, I may adopt a new medium, technique, or subject while in the field. But (for me anyway) it would be a tragic mistake to think that I'll sketch or paint everyday while away from home if I haven't already established that habit before I leave.

Sunrise, Monument Valley, 4"x8", w/c over Sakura pen & ink

So, I've been out everyday sketch hunting -- looking for new subjects, drawing, painting, experimenting with different tools and color schemes, and acclimatizing to heat and intense light. Sometimes I work up a piece as a monochromatic drawing, sometimes in color. Sometimes I work a drawing up in color. Sometimes I paint plain air. And sometimes I produce a sketch onsite and create a painting from that sketch once I've returned to the studio. Sometimes the results are less than stellar, either because I'm feeling rusty or because I've attempted something new and missed the mark. But that's OK because it's all intended as an opportunity to learn and grow. And, with practice now, I'm confident that the poor works will be fewer and farther apart by the time I begin my next adventure (not to mention that the honed observation and rendering skills will likely result in a more memorable experience.)

in addition to my regular field journals and plain air panels I'm thinking 
it might be nice to produce a large adventure journal (with maps, 
illuminations & calligraphy entries) and pen & ink portraits of 
some of the folks I meet afield 

I've been putting together a map that identifies particular points of visual interest in the park -- scenes previously sketched or painted by some of the outstanding artists who have worked in the park previously (from Thomas Moran to Franz Bischoff), and venues that are of particular interest to current visitors (such as Angels' Landing, Big Bend, The Subway, and the Emerald Pools.) But I'll also dedicate a good bit of time to just wondering and looking (for picturesque landscapes, flora and fauna) and talking with park staff and visitors.

Zion events --

Dates and times for two events during my Zion A-i-R have now been finalized: I'll be doing a presentation for the Southern Utah University art department and interested public on Thursday, Oct. 29; and on Nov. 4 I'll be a guest speaker for the annual Zion Plein Air Art Invitational lecture series. Southern Utah University is located in Cedar City, UT, while the PAAI lecture series will be held at Zion Lodge.

the poster for this year's Invitational 
(original art by Michelle Condrat)

Kickstarter fundraising campaign --

My Kickstarter crowd-funding project was approved this week (on my birthday actually... a very nice present indeed) and, after reshooting the video and tweaking the pledge rewards, was launched yesterday. I invite you to take a look at my Kickstarter page ( and what I'm planning to accomplish during the residency, and I hope you will take a look at the rewards I'm offering for pledges. If you like what you see and hear I hope you'll pledge at a level that appeals to you AND, please, tell your friends.

Your financial support could be critical to the success of this art adventure and will be most appreciated.


Next week -- sketching & painting updates from the garden.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful honor and adventure for you and your family.