“Study … Rock Formation”
(Grand Canyon, Arizona)
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
4” x 6”
Next I turned to matters close at hand, after little stroll and a bit of a stretch, and tackled the rocks just a few feet away from where I’d done the two earlier Oil Sketches. Now I chose a 4" x 6" panel (being contrary), and used the same palette I’d been working with all day (why change now?), with a brush drawing in Cobalt Blue, and again no imprimatura; Cobalt Blue, Venetian Red, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow (hue), Cadmium Red, and Titanium White, all Winsor & Newton.
I spent whatever time I had here in the Grand Canyon area painting and taking photographs, and have had no time since then to really study the geology, so I can’t tell you at present what these rocks might be, so we’ll just call them “the creamy coloured rocks at the top of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, roughly 12 miles east of the Visitor’s Center,” shall we? OK, well that’s settled. But I did have an occasional companion all day, in the form of a blondish squirrel with a spotty or mottled colouration on its back; this was a Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegates), and I saw several during my time at the Canyon, and so far none before or since. The handling of this Study was looser than the two sketched earlier in the day, as you can see, for example, with the broader brush strokes in the sky and the bit of landscape showing on the left. The rocks themselves I built up with discreet strokes of colour next to each other, and then pecked in smaller strokes later to build up a bit of the texture of the rock surface, lichens and the sparse branches of the , I believe, Rabbit-brush … maybe a little sagebrush as well, and to give shape to the formation. I could have gone further, but it stands as it is; the day was waning, and I did cook supper in the deepening dusk. A good day with three Oil Sketches completed, and my first confrontation in paint with this Great Natural Wonder!