Sunday, October 31, 2010

Towards Vermillion Cliffs - #26 in Four Corners series

Productive day in the studio - two paintings finished.  I'll post #27 tomorrow, but here is #26, titled "Towards Vermillion Cliffs".

The Vermillion Cliffs are without a doubt my favorite of the geological features along the drive to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  They mark the second step in the Grand Staircase - a geological sequencing of rock layers beginning with those within the Grand Canyon ("chocolate cliffs"), and ending with the youngest rocks that form Bryce Canyon to the north.  Composed of the same layers as the Echo Cliffs - the Glen Canyon group - these cliffs are decidedly different in appearance and character than the Echo Cliffs.  They form the southern edge of the Paria Plateau and are not inclined.  As with the Echo cliffs, these also overly Chinle formation slopes.

The late afternoon sun on these cliffs is what gives them their name - it is by far the best time to see them.  Not getting direct east/west sun, they positively glow with warm, earthy reds, cool purple-mauves and pale pink-yellows of the Navajo sandstone, and their rough, angular facade creates stunning shadows.

These are all the features that make this a painter's dream.  I have no doubt I will come back to paint these cliffs from life at some point.

Towards Vermillion Cliffs
9x12 - oil on canvas

This went a bit easier for the second layer.  I learned some things from this painting that I applied to #27, hopefully to better effect.  The sky - thick, cross-directional cirrus - is what was happening out my studio window...does it count as "plein air" if I don't go outside?  

And, here are a couple of photos from our drive to Moab on Thursday:

La Sal Mtns. with red rocks and snow
This is unmistakably Utah:  sandstone canyon country and volcanic mountains in the same view.

Cottonwood in yellow spendor
Beautiful cottonwoods were at a rest stop about 20 miles south of Moab, and I made Wayne stop so I could take photos.

Red rock and a range of colors
The beautiful sculpted rock of Navajo sandstone forms the backdrop for this group of cottonwoods that are clearly marching to the beat of their own personal drummers as far as commencing fall colors go.

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