“Grand Canyon Morning”
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
3” x 4”
The Valley of the Gods in southern Utah was my first experience of the red rocks of the American Southwest, and I could have spent a couple weeks there painting the various formations from different directions and in different lights and weathers; of course that is what all Landscape Painting is about no matter where you are. I’m going to jump ahead in the sequence of my travls from Oklahoma back to Oregon, and I hear you cry, “Why all the jumping around?!!” It is simply that I am posting paintings that I have available to this blog, as many are in Galleries and thus not available … yet; there are always a lot of balls to juggle as a painter.
Eventually I reached the Grand Canyon for the first time in my life; what would it be like in reality; slightly bigger than Rocky Valley in North Cornwall, I expect. I arrived at the Visitor Center Carpark on the south rim about mid-afternoon; it was quite crowded even though it was mid-October, but I expect that the re-opening after the Government shut-down might have had something to do with that; I’m glad it wasn’t mid-Summer. I parked away from the Visitor Center, and as close to the rim as I could and followed likely looking suspects that seemed to be heading in the right direction. Abruptly I came out of the pines and there it was beyond scores of tourists, both foreign & domestic. I threaded my way through the throngs to the edge and as the astonishing view opened out, my first verbal reaction to those within earshot was, “Wot! Is that awl there is? Oi thot it wood be biggah!” in my best North London accent (that should actually be Noaf Lahndon … apologies to my true North London friends and acquaintances). I received the requisite laughs from those nearby who understood the language and blank stares from those who didn’t.
But seriously, it is truly an astounding landscape, which keeps getting larger as one studies it for a time and begins to actually understand the scale involved. Colours, cloud patterns and shadows, aerial perspective, all play a role in making this, what could be a painter’s paradise for a lifetime and there are those for who it is so. I only had a few days. The next day I managed three Oil sketches, partly by camping in the National Forest just outside the National Park boundary on a back road, and only a mile from the South Rim itself, and partly by staying in one spot the whole day. The first sketch above depicts the morning Sunlight breaking through the early cloud cover and lighting up portions of the Canyon while more of it remains in early shadow. Being contrary, I chose my smallest sketching panel of 3” x 4” thus setting myself a challenge to try and capture the immensity of the Canyon, in such a small format; perhaps I succeeded … or not … you decide.
I proceeded to draw directly in Cobalt Blue with the brush and no imprimatura; the pigments used are Cobalt Blue, Venetian Red, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow (hue), Cadmium Red, & Titanium White, all by Winsor & Newton.