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 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.

This entry was posted in Featured Content, General, Landscape, Painting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Peggy Wilson December 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Derald and I took that same route spending the month of May in Utah. He hiked the slots in Zion while I painted. We tried to hit the main parks. It is a wonderful area. Your work is amazing. (Alllen’s Bend/ my favorite.) Those photos of the Subway and Pine Creek were….un-nerving to me. Yicks!

    We also spent time at Canyon de Chelly and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Our timing was off to be able to see the event at any of the locations. Then off to San Diego from July to Nov. Lots of painting!

  2. Sasha Lewis January 5, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Wow! These are magnificent red rock photos. The photographer actually captured the essence of red rocks. These are smashing looking photos.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *