Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Grand Canyon Afternoon

“Afternoon Cloud Shadows”
(Grand Canyon, Arizona)
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
3” x 4”

And after finishing yesterday’s Oil Sketch it was time for lunch, hastily wolfed it down and began on the next one, above.  By now the light was a bit mellower, as a little afternoon haze softened the distance.  There was more Sun as the clouds had thinned and become those cumulous of oft remembered lazy days; but no lazing for me.  The slowly moving cloud shadows drifting across the sub-canyons & buttes within the greater chasm itself now became the reason to paint.  The colours of the landscape became a bit brighter than in the morning’s work, partly I think because of the more apparent contrast of the soft greens of the vegetation (grasses, sage?), with the earth reds of the Canyon walls. 

Again I chose a 3" x 4" panel, since Morning & Afternoon makes a natural pair; no matter that they might go to separate homes ... it's the painting exercise that matters.  I proceeded as with the earlier painting, with a brush drawing in Cobalt Blue, and again no imprimatura; the pigments used were the same as the morning, being Cobalt Blue, Venetian Red, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow (hue), Cadmium Red, and Titanium White.  The lovely quiet greens, were mixed from the blue and both yellows and the white; I’m always surprised with the various greens one can get with these subdued yellows. 

There is something singular about the perception of space and distance in the West.  I first began to feel this when first crossing the Cascade Range in Oregon from the Willamette Valley to the High Desert, and I realized that I could see where I’d been two hours before and sixty miles off in the distance.  Again and again his happens when travelling out here.  On Thanksgiving Day in 2012, and the day after, while heading east from Oregon to Oklahoma, this would happen again and again with even greater distances.  Here on the edge of the Grand Canyon one looks down thousands of feet and miles across to the opposite rim and, and as you come to terms with the actuality of those distances you realize how long it might take you to walk those distances.  I can well understand those first Spanish explorers with Coronado, who upon looking down from the South Rim for the first time, thought that the “little brook” a few hundreds of feet below could be easily stepped across; or so they thought until members of their party actually climbed down and confronted the Colorado River itself; then they had to climb back up!

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