Monday, October 1, 2012

Escalante Canyons Art Plein Air Festival - part I

We got back yesterday late afternoon from the 9-day trip of camping, hiking and painting, and I'm in the process of getting caught up on things.  In short, the trip was awesome and the event was great.  New friends and connections made, both fellow painters and locals who love and support this event in their small home town of Escalante, UT.

Statistics for the trip:

Total paintings done on trip:  11
Counties painted in:  3
National Park paintings: 2
Paintings sold:  3
Awards: 1

I'll have to split up this into a few posts, simply because most of the paintings need a bit more work before I consider them "finished".  Two of the paintings sold the night of the awards reception, and I never got photos of them.

However, I can share the two paintings that are finished and photographed:  the entry for the main competition and the painting from Wednesday's quick-draw event:

Passing To the North - 16x12" - SOLD
pastel on black Strathmore paper

Honorable Mention - pastel/WC/mixed media division
This painting, done last Monday afternoon, was my entry for the main competition, whereupon I took advantage of the storm system moving through the area and also took a gamble that it would spare me while I painted.  

It is actually painted at the same location (campsite) as the stormy painting I did from our May trip:  "Gathering Storm Over Duffrey Mesa", about 5 miles east of the town of Boulder, UT, along the Burr Trail.

Conditions of strong wind gusts and spatters of rain earlier as the storm advanced from the west made it impossible to paint in another location by the Boulder Mail Trail, and I was feeling a bit restless that I'd not been able to paint all day after we got back to our campsite.  Later, I walked up to the hill, saw the dark sky against the pale sandstone slopes, and knew I had a painting in that, so I ran down and grabbed my gear.

I had to literally hold my easel while I painted as the wind continued to blow, figuring I could get hit with rain at any moment.  Amazingly, the rain kept to the north, which the title reflects.

By the time I'd finished the painting, that particular wave had passed to the east:

I knew when I finished this that I had my painting for the competition, which was both a thrill and a relief.   I had actually brought along a 12x24" paper, figuring I'd find a great place to have a staged painting of that size, but that never happened...but, I did find a spot for one of next year's paintings that I'm already excited to paint.

What was surprising, and delightful, were the number of people that came up to me after the awards ceremony and told me how much they loved this painting, the sky, and that they'd voted for it as the People's Choice award.   So, this storm, rather than being a damper, ended up being a gift.

Here is the painting from Wed's quick-draw event, which we actually had pretty much all day to complete (9-5, I believe):

Corner of 200 North - 11x14"
pastel on black Strathmore
We had to stay within a mile of the park where the main festival was going on, and it was suggested to do one of the many historic buildings in town.  I knew I was painting this house before I'd even seen it in person, thanks to a virtual drive around town via Google Street View.  If you are planning on painting an area but aren't familiar with it, Google is your friend!

I decided to have fun with color for this painting, and I decided to use one of the beautiful violet Ludwigs that normally just sits, unused, in my main pastel box.   Since I don't draw buildings often, I spent probably an inordinate amount of time just drawing the building and double-checking the angles and perspective.  That's important, along with accurate values.  Of course, by the time I'd finished the painting, the neat morning shadows were all gone thanks to the overcast skies you see.

But, I have to say, I am really happy with how this painting turned out, although I may adjust the values under the porch a bit - I didn't darken them enough during my final adjustment on location.

I'll post the other paintings in batches as I bring them up to completion; thankfully, most just need a bit of tweaking or filling in of small areas.


  1. Congratulations on your award! It is a stunning piece. I love storms and this captures that wild beauty.

  2. Thanks, Gabrielle - I've painted in stormy weather on a few different occasions, and it's exhilarating, at least as long as there is no lightning or rain involved :).

  3. How fun, Sonya! I LOVE both of these paintings, and it is so exciting to read about your trip. Congratulations on the sales of your paintings and the award. All well deserved, my friend!

    Mark and I were in the Durango area for a few days on an impromptu, leaf-peeping trip last week. I thought of emailing you to see if we could meet for lunch, and then, I remembered your plein air trip. We would love to return next fall, because the leaves were so beautiful. Hopefully, it will work out. I would love to meet you. And paint with you, too! Take care and talk to you soon! :)

  4. Hi Darla - thank you so much :)!

    How exciting that you made it out to Durango for the glorious fall colors here! Definitely drop me a note if you are in town next year, and we'll make a plan to get together, assuming I'm in town. I think it would be fantastic to paint together as well! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip out here!

  5. I love both of them, but of course I am attracted to the architectural. Historic buildings have so much character.

  6. Thanks Ruth; I totally agree about the character of these historical buildings, some of which date to the late 1800's when the town was established by Mormon pioneers. I look forward to painting more next time I'm in town. Boy, do they challenge my drawing skills, though (which is a good thing) :)!


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...