Tag Archives: AZ

Grand Canyon Plein Air 2013

20130917_183536_HDRThis year’s Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, Plein Air on the Rim was somehow even more amazing than last years!! The organizers seem to have the midas touch on this show. It never seizes to amaze me how much support the GCA is able to create for this noblest of causes. Every year, this is the fifth, the Grand Canyon Association holds this show as a fundraiser in order to build a permanent venue for the Grand Canyon’s amazing art collection. They have accumulated a collection that can rival some of the best museums in the world of Grand Canyon art through donations, artists in residences, and acquisitions made by congress in the formation of the National Parks. They have Bierstadts, Thomas Morans, Edgar Payne, and countless others. This permanent venue will be a public museum for guests of the canyon to enjoy


forever. Plein Air working for the public interest in the largest and most popular of all of the national parks. I just love being part of this “GRAND” idea and vision put together by the Grand Canyon Association. Plus the skies parted and the rain stopped for us the entire week!

20130915_164138This year the GCA had me and Robert Dalegowski go down to Phantom Ranch for a couple of days of the event. I hired the Mule cowboys to take a camping duffle down for me so I wouldn’t have to carry all of my painting and camping gear. Well, I had never been down to the Colorado River before then and was spellbound by its eternal beauty. I painted four paintings on the way down. ‘Zoroaster from the South


 Kaibab,’ ‘Yaki From Skeleton Point,’ ‘The Bright Angel From Skeleton Point,’ and ‘Phantom Ranch’ can all be found in the body  of work gallery below. The other paintings where you can see the river closely were also done from the adventure down there. I had a blast getting to know the very talented and scrappy 68 years young, Robert. This guy had stories from the canyon and beyond that could captivate a room of A.D.D. teenagers, and has explored every nook and cranny of the canyon in his 50+ years of Grand Canyon exploration. He was painting in watercolors and I highly recommend checking out 20130914_171434some of his work by clicking HERE! I ran out of panels


after two full days of painting around Phantom and hiked and painted on the way out too. The hike out was spectacular because just as I emerged from the basement rock and through the tapeats formation, the sun was setting on Zoroaster, my favorite monument out there (you’ll see painting after painting of it in my body of work). Then the moon rose and I continued up from skeleton point by the moonlight. Stellar. 


For the rest of the week I spent my time on the rim painting into the blue abyss. As you will see with my body of work, I am continually captivated by the interesting interplay of light and dark shapes (click HERE to read my updated artist’s statement). The Grand Canyon creates the most stimulating light and dark shapes of any place I’ve ever been to. One of the days up on the Rim, Dave Santillanes (click HERE) was pointing to the stands in


 expectation of cranking that painting out of the park!! Bill Cramer (click HERE) was doing his usual shenanigans, and we all wore ourselves out with our heavy intake of alcohol at night, and early rising to capture the sunrises each morning….artists are a different breed!! 

I’ve never witnessed a quickdraw that draws more attention or support than the one at El Tovar during this event. There were hundreds of people and the auctioneer did a phenomenal job of keeping people’s interest and getting those prices up. The GCA broke the previous year’s record with this quickdraw and the totals for 25 artists was 38,000 in sales!! The show opening of all of the work we’d done hadn’t even happened yet. The opening gala reception was another record breaker. I ended up selling 13 paintings including the quickdraw and got voted for the event’s top award, Artist’s Choice “Best Body of Work!!” I was very surprised because of the quality of work and artists in this show it could have gone to anyone. I am so honored by this and I will cherish this award for my life!! James McGrew (click HERE) also did very well in the awards department. He took the people’s choice at the quickdraw and the Plein Air magazine award also.

Enjoy the award winning body of work below (Artist’s Choice; Body of Work). And for availability use the navigation bar above and browse to my available paintings.

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Green River Float 2013

_MG_2246Toward the end of July, _MG_2245I took the family on a 6 day adventure with Dvorak’s Expeditions. It started with a short drive over to Grand Junction where we stayed in the Grand Vista Hotel looking out at the Colorado National Monument at sunset. The next day we were up at the crack _MG_2319of dawn to board a small passenger cessna aircraft which flew us 45 minutes to the north and west of Grand Junction. We landed on a small plateau overlooking the put in at Sandy Wash on the Green River in Desolation Canyon.
We first strapped all of the rafts together into a giant floatzilla and motored for about 15 river miles on the first day. The _MG_2478weather was absolutely perfect the entire trip and a light haze in the air kept the heat from being sweltering! I thought the first day was interesting and could see the reason for the namesake of the canyon, Desolation. We were in the middle of NOWHERE and there wasn’t much vegetation outside of the watercourse. The canyon walls looked to be a crumbly kind of sundried limestone. We did spot a small herd of wild horses on the Ute Indian Reservation side of the river.
The second day of rafting I found the canyon to be a bit more sculptural. The rock turned from limestone to sandstone and I thought this to be more aesthetically pleasing from a painting standpoint. I ended up doing both a painting at our stopping point that night and one in the morning. The morning one was right in the direction of the Groover which I did not know and probably embarrassed a couple _MG_2359of river rats.  This one is called “Groover View” in the painting gallery below._MG_2441
On the second night of the trip and after a few on river water battles, the group was forever bonded in our floating adventure. The food on the trip was absolutely stellar. We had five guides for the almost 20 of us so everything was taken care of and we ate like kings and queens. I snapped pictures while floating during the day and tried to paint like a madman as soon as we stopped for the evening and as everyone loaded the rafts in the morning.
_MG_2332By the third day everyone knew the drills and was on task. My mom and I took duckies out on this day and had a blast running some of the whitewater in the canyon. A few of the other river rats got a hold of my camera one night and had a little fun!!IMG_2483
Some of the haziness in the weather created a flat light on some of the evenings, so I painted trees and other subjects on those days. While the sun set over the canyon walls, a few of us got into a pretty impressive bocce ball tournament. Not a moment later while listening to one of the guides, Nathan, strumming away on the “guit-fiddle” an adolescent bear thought he would like what we were eating at camp…happened to be salmon on this night!! We jumped up and made a lot of noise like a bunch of savages, and the bear took for the hills!
_MG_2460The 4th 5th and 6th days were the best of the Desolation and Gray Canyons I thought. Along the float we stopped a couple of times to see petroglyphs, old homestead cabins and farms and a really refreshing tributary called rock creek.  I think it’s so intriguing to think about the recent history (last 100+ years) and the ancient history of the watershed. Native Americans must have found the place bountiful and probably wandered and traded goods up and down the canyon and beyond. Not to mention the formation of the area in the super ancient geologic history of this river.
If you ever get a chance to do this float, I highly recommend it! Artist or not, you will enjoy yourself very much. I would calle Dvorak’s Expeditions to book a trip as soon as possible and especially if you have young ones in your group. There are sandy beaches the entire way, the water temperature was about 70 degrees, and the area is stunning. Please also enjoy the body of work below from the trip. Check the availability of the paintings by using the navigation bar above.

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Red Rock Plein Air Loop 2012

It’s a bitter sweet exit from the often blustery conditions of Colorado in October to bounce around through red rock country of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Bitter because the cottonwoods start to peak along the Arkansas Valley near my home in Salida, CO, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful times of year to be here. Sweet because the weather is perfect in the desert southwest, not to mention the stunning vistas and intimate canyons of RED ROCK COUNTRY!! After a full workshop here in Salida at the beginning of October, I packed the  Starry Starry Night (my modified Casita camper trailer) with all of the panels, frames, and paint in order to do 3 plein air events in 5 weeks.

Plein Air Moab was the first of the events and is an open event with over 100 artists coming from 11 different states (I believe this was the final count). Plein Air Mob-scene was more like it. It would be great if the mob scene was collectors and not artists though unfortunately. The sales at the event were less than desired, however one goes to this particular show knowing this. Pricing and quality were all over the board, there are good painters charging nothing, and amatuer painters charging too much. Only my opinion here, and who am I to judge.. all I ever advocate is an alignment with your personal supply and demand, but there are a lot of mis-aligned artists out there. Also Moab is a recreational UBER area and I think most people, and not unlike many areas of Colorado, have a more expensive full suspension mountain bike than the vehicle they are driving…Or ALL of their money is sunk into a 4×4 crawler of the likes you can see if you search: extreme 4×4 crawlers, Moab UT  on Youtube.com. Long story short…Phenomenal. People were great, artists were great, area is second to none for painting, and even though the sales during the event were a bit light, I haven’t a single painting from the area left. Paintings of Moab sell!!..just not in Moab very often. It’s no fault of the event coordinators either because they are ON IT and put together a very fine event given the over bearing and under fun-having theocracy currently ruling the state. Anyway below is the body of work from Plein Air Mob-scene. As you can see, I am spellbound by the stranger than fiction, Arches National Park.

After Moab, where I hooked up with two good friends, Carl Ortman, and Richard Skutnick, the three of us continued our journey south to Monument Valley. I had about 4 days to kill before I was scheduled to teach a 3 day workshop before the Sedona Art Center’s annual invitational plein air event.  The two paintings at the beginning of the Moab body of work are from this time in Monument Valley.

After getting on the road to Sedona, between Kayenta, and Tuba City, the Starry Starry Night had a wheel bearing burn up. I was jamming to some Jurassic Five havin’ a good ole time when I get a call from Carl,” Dude pull over immediately.” So I did. Smoke still emerged from the hub. It had been a while since I’d packed a vehicle bearing, so I called my go to mechanic, Dad. He described in detail the mechanical nuance of the situation, and we jacked her up and took the assembly apart. Had to drive back to Kayenta for parts. We put it all back together, packed the thing with grease, duct taped the end so no dirt could get in there, and down the dusty trail we once again were!

The workshop in Sedona went phenomenally.

The Sedona Plein Air Invitational went good but not as great as it once was. I’ve heard a lot of theories about why art sales in the Sedona area have fallen off a large red rock cliff. One interesting theory is that the Visitor’s Bureau has focused too much attention on attracting people interested in so called “Vortices” and other esoteric supernatural forces of the area, and those people aren’t interested in boring representational paintings of simply just the scenery. Another, is that the collectors that support the Sedona Art Center are worn out, and they have all of the paintings of red rocks that they can stand, especially when the window out of their great room has a real-life rock formation in it (albeit with other multi-million dollar mansions peppered around the base…another problem, another rant, another day). The best though is that when the housing market is stagnant, so are art sales. Anyway. The event is a good one and well run, but they have been trying to re-invigorate a slowly waning show in times that prove tough for every artist. Still managed to sell about 8 paintings there.

I also show in Mountain Trails Gallery in TlaquePaque along Oak Creek in Sedona, and things that did not sell at the plein air show get schlepped over to the gallery and are on display there… Please take a look if you’re in the area as it was one of my favorite bodies of work: “Cactus Dance”, “Desert Staircase”, “Flood Resistant”, and “Allen’s Bend” are among some of my favorite paintings to date.

From Sedona, Carl and I made our way over to Zion National Park. We again had a couple of days to kill, so we took another scenic route in which we stopped by the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stayed in the secret National Forest area near Grand View for free and painted for a couple of days in the area. I re-supplied the Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim show at Kolb Studio with a couple of new goodies and we pressed on. We arrived in Zion National Park a day or two early as I had an engagement with a couple buddies to explore a few of the technical slot canyons. We painted for those days and I got a bunch of ideas for paintings to do during the plein air event.

My bros Edmund Rudell, an Army buddy, and Frank Seaman, former framer extraordinaire, met me in Zion. We got our permits to run Mystery Canyon, The Subway, and Pine Creek slots and outfitted ourselves a bit for the colder-ish time of year to be running slot canyons. Below are galleries of photos taken with a GO-PRO camera of the slots to give you an idea of how insane and worthwhile it is to get out into nature and witness some of the Universe’s original art!!
Mystery Canyon:

The Subway:

Pine Creek:

After all of that rest and relaxation, I was mentally and physically ready to paint for the Zion Invitational; In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran. We had perfect weather all week until the quickdraw event when it snowed, blew, and occasionally the sun would poke through the clouds…MY KIND OF PAINTING!! I spent 4 sunrises on the switchbacks looking back at the face of The Sentinal working on “In the Shadow of Mount Spry.” I was captivated by the abstract qualities of shape and edge relationships. For the rest of the days I’d buddy up with Bill Cramer, or Dave Santillanes. Over all, it was a good show, a lot of interest, but once again, not stellar sales. Well run, just not a clean out feeding frenzy as I’ve seen shows be, and would expect this show to be. Anyway, a great time and an area I will always look forward to painting. While in Springdale, I did a bit of gallery shopping and got picked up by the DeZion Gallery there. Below is the body of work from this show. If you’re in the area please stop by the gallery.

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