Monday, November 23, 2015

Is That Snow?!? (Week 4 in Zion NP)

the water droplets in the clouds acted as miniature prisms, 
causing the colors of the peak to change moment by moment

Each day in Zion Canyon is filled with wondrous delights, and the first day of my final full week in the park was no exception. I awoke, as usual, before dawn and, at first light, was treated to wispy white clouds dancing about the sun-drenched canyon tops. It was amazing and continued for much of the morning!

with ever-changing views like this I'm amazed that anyone opts to drive a car in Zion

For most of my stay (in fact, until the PAAI painters arrived) I seemed to be the only painter in the park. (There's lats of space to choose from and it's easy to avoid tripping over one another.) But the same can't be said for photographers. In fact, as fall color has finally begun to appear, a daily late afternoon "feeding frenzy" has become the norm at the Canyon Junction bridge, with dozens of photographers vying for position to capture the "perfect" picture of two very iconic subjects: the Watchman and Virgin River. (Ironically, I think a much better view of the pair is to be had from one of the bridges on the Pa'rus Trail, and it's crowd-free. But that's just my personal opinion.)

my "mystery flower" and one of the Arizona Sisters I encounter along the Grotto Trail

The flora of Zion Canyon has turned out to be something of an enchanting paradox; at the very same time that fall color is beginning to appear, and mornings are often marked by frost, wildflowers are popping up along the riverbanks and butterflies are seen on the canyon floor flitting about in the midday sun. The butterflies all seem to be Arizona Sisters, but there are several species of flowers, including this mystery. (If anyone has any insight as to its identity I would be most grateful if you could leave a comment or drop me an email.)

comp sketch have proven a wonderful tool in zion, as has my 
Zion NP Green Bike "studio on wheels", and the "phase 1" results

And then there's the plein air painting. Normally I would expect to have an hour to an hour and a half to work on a panel before the light changes too much (and with some subjects in the park that has proven the case.) But -- with a canyon that runs more or less north and south, and the canyon walls so close -- the lighting on some subjects changes in mere minutes! Fortunately, as a month-long resident, I've had the luxury of being able to return to a subject on following day(s) and pick up where I left off. 

and, when exploring afoot, my lightweight 6x8 ThumBox has been perfect

And, yes, toward the end of the week we experienced yet another dip in the temperature... and snow in the higher elevations. That required that I bundle up and venture out to the (ice covered) foot bridge to photograph the west wall peaks (and a Dipper that was fishing for her breakfast) at first light. And the whole experience was so delightfully sublime. (But was it really in the mid 80s when I got here? How things do change!) 

as the sun came up those areas of snow in direct light gradually melted, 
but those areas in shadow remained all week (and resulted in a few nice oil sketches)

Then, last but certainly not least, I had a visit -- from none other than the original Guerrilla Painter himself: Carl Judson! With the Grotto House bathed in warm afternoon sunlight we chatted for several hours (about plein air painting, my residency, and how much the park has changed since Carl's last visit some tow decades ago) before he had to hit the road again. (Carl had just returned from a business trip to China and was on his way home.) 

two typical guerrilla painters (who seem to enjoy what they do)

Next week I hope you'll join me for my last few days in Zion -- and for a little surprise. Hope to see you then.



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