Tag Archives: Best Plein Air in United States

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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Western San Juans Adventure 2013

After the Telluride and Aspen Plein Air Invitationals, I went on to the Durango, CO area to meet up with my Sister, Mom, and past assistant, Frank. We all met up at my sister’s place there in bustling Durango in order to do a backpacking trip in to the Chicago Basin of the Western San Juan Mountains. It’s been a wet Summer here in Colorado, and the monsoons have been very busy. 20130718_162608The state may be the greenest I’ve ever seen it before. It’s bitter sweet because while the state needs the moisture, I prefer the drought conditions for painting. Long story short, there was a stationary front that was sitting on top of the Chicago Basin when we boarded the Durango to Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad. We rode the train to a small ghost town along the Animas River in the San Juan Wilderness called Needleton. That’s where our ride ended and our 8 mile hike in accompanied by 2500 feet of elevation gain began. We loaded our packs on our backs and started up the Needle Creek watershed to the basin in a light drizzle. It was a foggy way up the trail and the rain was intermittent. One place about two miles up the creek, the trail got close to a beautiful cascade and I stopped and painted while the others continued trekking on. One more short painting session on the way in and I arrived a few hours later to the camping spot. It was a gloomy evening with low lying clouds hovering above the basin. They started to clear off about the time I was ready to turn in and we saw a very nice half moon in the night sky promising us a clear morning. Well, it lied. 20130717_08451520130717_084549The next morning Frank was up about 4:30 am in order to bag Eolus and North Eolus, two of the four 14ers(14 thousand foot peaks)  in the basin. I woke up again at about 7:00 am to a completely socked in valley..20130717_125327Fog so thick in spots you could only see 30 ft or so. It wasn’t raining though, so I grabbed my painting bag and a quick lunch. I hiked up and out of the treeline and across some magnificent cascading tributary streams. The high population of mountain goats in the area made their presence known all over the area on this day.


 I painted a cascade on the way to Twin Lakes at the base of the namesake of the creek, the Needle Mountains. At the Lake it was so fogged in that the far banks were indiscernible, but as I started painting the fog lifted over the course of the next 4 hours or so and I filled a camera card with amazing highly dramatic shots. Be on the lookout for some of these paintings in the near future. I ended up painting


4 paintings of the lake during this time and felt very fortunate for there not being rain involved in the scenario. We had a wet and rainy dinner back at camp, but the sky actually cleared after that and we had an amazing sunset in the basin.20130718_101558 The next morning was actually clear and beautiful. Frank again got up earlier than anyone and hiked up the hill again to get one of the toughest 14ers in CO’s lineup, Sunlight Peak with the all feared “leap of faith” to summit. Rumor has it that Frank got a bit scared up there and was not able to complete the summit, but I don’t believe it!! I painted another three paintings of this gorgeous morning and then as the rain came back, we cleaned up camp and headed for the train stop at Needleton once again. It rained the whole way down, but never downpoured on us luckily. With a couple of cold beers on the train, it was a fantastic end to an amazing trip!! Thank you Universe!
20130721_122122The next week I met up with an old Army buddy, Edmund Rudell. Him and I have a hobby, or maybe an obsession with seeing the bowels of the planet Earth. We very much enjoy doing slot canyons. Most of the ones that we have done are in the Zion National Park area. We’ll hike down a creek a bit and then come to a cliffed out off-camber drop of sometimes up to 200 feet… and then that’s into a deep carved out pool of freezing cold water. Sound AWESOME!?? We put on our rockclimbing harnesses and set up a rappel station from the top. We then rappel down the rope and continue on our adventure.  Well, I was surprised to find out that there are some subalpine and higher elevation slot canyons right here in CO. 20130721_162647There are many in the San Juan Mountains especially concentrated around Ouray, CO. He had done the research on them, and met me in Durango the night I returned out of Chicago Basin. We headed for Ouray and slots early the next morning.
Thing is with Ouray, they call it the Switzerland of the United States, it’s got a lot of vertical elevation to it. Every slot we wanted to do requires an over 1000 foot climb in order to then descend a slot canyon watershed. 20130721_111632We did Oak Creek the first day which I absolutely loved, and Cascade Creek the second day. Cascade had more angular breaks to the erosion of the rock which I found more attractive from a painter’s view. On the third and final day of the slot canyon fun trip we did Bear Creek just outside of town off of the Million Dollar Highway. That was a geologic wonder. From Crestacious period megaripples in the rock from being at the bottom of a shallow inland sea for eons, to tilted layers of metamorphic schist, and water carving through it all. Extremely beautiful!! Be on the lookout for paintings from this slot canyon adventure in the near future.

Enjoy the body of work from the Chicago Basin trip below:


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Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim 2012

Hands down, this is the most incredible event I do in the year. Every year I come to the south rim, I think there is no way this event will be as good as the year prior, and this year was no exception. This year, and every year since the first year in 2009, they’ve  out done themselves!! This year the sales were up by nearly 40% from last year… incredible!! The weather this year was superb with a couple of storms moving through for drama and excitement, but nothing lasting or torrential like last year’s weather. Well it made for an extremely diverse and productive week of work. I spent some more time at one of my old favorites, Yaki point, and a number of days were spent out at Mojave Point on the west rim as well looking into the Abyss. My favorite painting from the week was Temple Shapes done from Hopi Point on the West Rim. Enjoy it Nancy!! A special thanks goes out to all those at Grand Canyon Association for all of their work and to the Grand Canyon enthusiasts that helped make the show an incredible success by purchasing our poetic interpretations of one of the seven wonders of the world. Below is the body of work from this year’s event!!

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