Sunday, September 28, 2014

Made it to the North Rim

GRAND CANYON! First time and it's as magnificent as I knew it would be.
Great drive from Escalante to Kanab.
Then the high meadows started with aspen and pine (?) trees. Purty!
Arrived and put up my smaller REI tent then followed a 1.5 mile hike on the rim in the forest and out to some crazy look out points.
Loved the hike, loved the canyon colors and view.... Even the wind was exciting.
Gorp and a a Lagunitas IPA for dinner and watching the sunset... Now ready for bed at 7:30 pm!
Glad I brought a bag of cold clothes, I'm totally layered up!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


After a very stormy night, the day relaxed just enoki ugh for a morning painting demo by Doug Braithwaite. 

Our esthetic, approach and styles are vastly different, but I learned a lot. He almost draws in the beginning of his piece, removing paint with qtips and paper towels similar to Burt Silverman.

Interestingly, he works on MDF board that he primes 10x. He also works pretty wet and uses water color brushes.

He's able then to start with dark washes and block in major shapes and then pull out secondary shapes by lifting out pigment.

Color comes next, again in thin layers with liquid so he's able to retain brush strokes and layer colors.

He built his own pochade system and uses a strange soap he found called. 'Man Size' to goop onto dirty brushes and then just wipe that all clean the next time he paints.

Friday, September 26, 2014


It's today! Great start with a demo by J Brad Holt. He did a painting of this really cool brick heritage building. 

Voting took place for. 'Artists choice' and 'people's choice' - this we'll find out results tomorrow. This morning the official judges selected award winners, we'll find out more about those tomorrow too.

I've heard different numbers, but it sounds like 130 artists, 90 of which are oil painters. I worked the art booth for a couple hours today, a great way to meet other artists and chat about their art and paint festival experiences.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Last Painting Day

This was it. Last day to paint and also the day to submit your final selection for judging.

I started the day nice and relaxed: made coffee in my AeroPress and also made oatmeal with peanut butter and a banana with the extra water I boiled in my JetBoil.

I hadn't driven down the famous Hole-in-the-Rock Road yet, so I bumped along that dirt and rock road some 13.5 miles (!) until the Devil's Garden. Fantastic spires and fists and orbs of red and yellow sandstone, some 40ft above the desert floor.

After that I knew I needed to find just the right location for my final painting of the festival. I narrowed it down by wanting to paint red striped rocks again... So I knew I needed to head East on Hwy 12 between Kiva Koffeehouse and the a Escalante River. 

I made a uturn when the rocks turned more sand color and less red and was now back heading West. SUCCESS!

In a deep S curve by the River trail was a pull out big enough for my car and my painting set up... And SHADE!!

I had a glorious view if two towers of striped rock and they just inspired me to paint bold and convey their playful spirit. I love these.

Official Paint Out Day

Over 100 artists painted today along Hell's Backbone Rd. It's a loop actually and connects with Hwy 12 between Escalante and Boulder.

I'd driven the washboard road section of HBR and decided I'd rather go for a vista piece off the paved Hwy. 

I usually choose scenes that have a central or close subject, so to stand up overlooking an entire canyon just as daylight hits the upper peaks was a huge shift for me! 

From the start I was taken with these subtle colors on the light sandstone; lemon and melon and a beautiful salmon pink and violet! Gorgeous! Plus, all along the furthest range, called the Straights, were these ribbons of pale cool green and lavender. Yes! I can paint here!

Our finished piece had to be turned in between 3 & 5pm, I glued mine down to the floater frame, told them leave it flat on a table until the glue dries (!) at 3:30pm.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


After a morning of painting, and no breakfast, and NO COFFEE (again, Kiva Koffeehouse was CLOSED.)

I drove up Hwy 12 to Boulder in search if FOOD.

And I was rewarded.

Burr Trail Restaurant. Darn good. Amazing actually. I wasn't sure what to expect: the parking lot had about 25 Harley Davidson Motorcycles and inside was all the leather vests and bandanas you would expect would be accessories by their riders.

I was greeted immediately by a sous chef and told to sit anywhere I like. The waitress (who also owns the restaurant with her husband) was very sweet and attentive despite a packed place.

I ordered a burger, standard fair on Hwy 12 it seems, but they also had sweet potato and black bean burgers that sounded great. 

I ate half, it came with tangy fresh coleslaw... V Good!

I topped it off with a slice of their homemade pie: Ginger Berry. I adore all things ginger and am a pie snob. This was great.

Giddy! So happy! Great good and had the other half of my burger that night after doing another painting. 

IF you're headed through the canyons in Utah.... THIS is where you eat.

#burrtrail, #burrtrailrestaurant, #pie, #bestfoodyet

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aspens above Boulder

I'm loving Boulder! The combination of red rocks, yellow rocks, juniper, mountains, views and ASPEN!
Tried my first aspen painting this afternoon, fun! The really do shake- quake... Rustle! Noise makers!
I kept turning my head to see if someone was behind me. Took a dirt road with a sign "deer lake road " I was rewarded!

Up before the day

Made it out to the parking area at Kiva Koffee at 7am. THE PLAN had been to paint until about 9, go in for a coffee and breakfast, then set back out to finish my piece.
Well, they are CLOSED on Tuesdays! Oh no! So I painted, sans coffee, banana for breakfast, and painted until 11:30.
The cropping of rocks was something I saw on my 'scouting' day earlier in the week. But arriving at 7, just as the sun was coming up I got the chance to see the colors deepen then lighten, the shadows lift and go from purples to blues  and then fade. It was a lovely show!

Monday, September 22, 2014


Wanted to play one more day, see Zion and get a hike in since the rain has stopped. Phenomenal! Last time I was there I hiked Angels Landing which is an epic hike. Today I hiked the Narrows which was intimate and beautiful.

Found a great book on the Art of our National Parks as well as saw the poster and tshirt for the Plein Air Invitational at Zion, which will be held in early November.

Bonus! On the was back, came across the Thunderbird Foundation which is a gallery in the old home of Maynard Dixon. Inside was still most of the paintings from the Maynard Dixon Days Plein air invitational held just about a month ago. So inspiring! Small world too, the owner Paul Bingham used to live in Willow Glen and had a gallery in both Los Altos and at the Fairmont in SJ. Had a nice time talking about art with him.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Day in Escalante

What to do when it's raining and you're supposed to be painting... AND it's a Sunday in Escalante??? (Odds stacked against me)

Well, I went to their very nice Visitor's Center, looked at exhibits, checked the posted weather outlook (today bad, rest of week good) and nearly bought a book. Exciting! There went 35 minutes.

Next up, I drove down the road to the Petrified Forest State Park. There is a terrific hike, a loop so you can't get lost, and there are stunning views as well as the Petrified wood. They are beautiful! Lots of ochres and alizarins and various blues and greens. I wonder why all the different colors? The hike was steep in the beginning, very muddy too. It drizzled on and off but was warm. I also was mesmerized by the twisted gnarled juniper trees. Some looked dead, burned or diseased or just tired and old.... Not sure. But the pairing of the smooth,
colored petrified wood with the weathered wood from the junipers was breathtaking. I went a little OCD taking photos of wood/rocks I admit. They also have dinosaur tracks and fossils. A great in town adventure.

Oh! What A Night!!

Got back late last night, but could already see the change in the weather.

It started with clouds and grey.

Then came wind. WIND!!! Howling like mad, and long gusts! Never experienced that before!

Next.... RAIN! Still raining now too. Didn't know if my tent would stay up or stay dry... But it did! 

What a ride!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Two-fer!!

What a day! After my morning painting (under the juniper tree) I took a spontaneous drive up Hell's Backbone Road. I really did not know what to expect. Well... It's long. It's bumpy, gravelly, washboard-like... Bone jarring is pretty accurate! And there is cow traffic!

Gorgeous though! Up and up! At the bridge I met another Escalante artist, Judy from Salt Lake City, we had a great conversation about painting :)

From there I continued on until I popped out near Boulder on Hwy 12. I decided it was cooling down enough (it was. 5:15) that I should check out the light/the view from the Boulder Sinclair Gas Station.

Luck! The light was different than I planned since the cool air and time of late day was bringing clouds.

My piece was of the barn and great rock down in a little valley, I really enjoyed painting this little piece.

I love you Juniper Tree

I drove down a dirt road for about 5 miles and saw this little speck of shade nearby the red rock formation I'd wanted to paint. Oh what a find! I heart you! I'm so thankful I found you little juniper tree!
Here's my dusty, trusty Subaru on location. Other than some pesky flies of various sizes and a stream of ants, it was a quiet painting session.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Long, Long, Never-ending Spectacular Drive

Indeed. So happy to arrive in Escalante and to get out of the car! I drove 7 hours Monday followed by 10.5 today. First over Tioga in Yosemite to Lee Vining. Amazing! Then headed out to Mono Lake to hike around before sunset. Spectacular! A good nights sleep despite a strange dream about bears... And I was up and on 120E again to cut through and across and on and on and on: Nevada.
Saw beautiful scrubby high desert, an alien statue and the sticker covered Extraterrestrial Hwy Sign. Really, beautiful. My heart does a skip and twirl though when I see the red rocks of Utah. How I love them! 

Kicking Things Off at Kodachrome

Had heard so many lovely things about Kodachrome State Park I knew I'd paint here this week eventually... But since it was looking like rain this morning I thought maybe it's not a good day for a 5 mile drive down a rough dirt road to do a painting! (Smart girl.)
Set up on the return from Chimney Rock, looking out towards Kodachrome Flat. I was so happy to be painting! 

Bryce Canyon

I last was in Bryce 10 years ago, and - well - that was my only time to visit the park. On that trip, the Hoodoos in Bryce were topped with snow. Today... I drove into Bryce after a long morning and afternoon of painting. Bryce was vivid orange and salmon and melon, gorgeous. It was also HOT. Drove the length of the park and then stopped at all the lookout spots on the way out. Photo-op madness. 

These days I usually camp with my beloved T@B trailer, but this trip is all tent camping. So my T@B wouldn't feel left behind (yeah I know... But if you owned one you'd understand) I brought my toy trailer. I've been having a lot of fun 'parking' it in prime locations ;) Bryce included.

The Way to Kodachrome

I knew Kodachrome was going to be beautiful but I was not prepared for how gorgeous the drive there would be... Yellow wildflowers line the road and every rock formation is just YUMMY! I may have to return this week.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scouts honor

I've spent the day scouting out locations to paint this week. A very helpful guide at Excurssions of Escalante, Jim, drew me a little map to a dirt road I should check out. Score! Loads of beautiful vistas and rocks. 

I've spent the rest of my 'free' day exploring Hwy 12. I may have to trek out this way to paint as well, the aspen are stunning in their yellows, golds and lime. It's a "Scenic Byway" for good reason!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Long, Long, Never-ending Spectacular Drive

Indeed. So happy to arrive in Escalante and to get out of the car! I drove 7 hours Monday followed by 10.5 today. First over Tioga in Yosemite to Lee Vining. Amazing! Then headed out to Mono Lake to hike around before sunset. Spectacular! A good nights sleep despite a strange dream about bears... And I was up and on 120E again to cut through and across and on and on and on: Nevada.
Saw beautiful scrubby high desert, an alien statue and the sticker covered Extraterrestrial Hwy Sign. Really, beautiful. My heart does a skip and twirl though when I see the red rocks of Utah. How I love them! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


And so it begins.
The packing! It's always a tiny bit of a challenge to pack for a single trip with a variety of events.

We have the Road trip: endless drives across deserts and sierras. This means a cooler,  jugs of water and snacks: (apples, celery with almond butter, oranges and tomatoes from the garden, mixed unsalted nuts.) My CD player doesn't work so I have my iPod and portable speaker that plugs into the cig lighter. I downloaded a new Louise Penny book to listen to while I drive. I have my iphone and charger, flares for an emergency and loads of maps in case the wifi doesn't work on the phone which I'm pretty certain 9/10ths of my trip it may not. 

We have the sleeping: Tents. Yes. I am bringing 2 tents. Crazy? I think not. There is about a weeks worth of single night or 2 night stays, so for those I have my 2 person REI Dome tent. My go-to tent. Easy up, small and packs really small. The other tent is a 4 person tent. A Grand Trunk tent. SO easy. Love this thing. I'll have a long extended stay in one location while I'm painting so I'm 'settling' in and I suppose - Glamping!  There's room for a tri-fold 4" japanese futon in both tents so I will be comfy. I adore my Big Agnes sleeping bag, called the Ethel. She's WARM and I'll be fine on those 48° degree nights and mornings. (Fingers crossed!) A pillow is coming with as well as a thick wool blanket JUST IN CASE Ethel isn't enough. I'm also bringing a throw rug and extra footprint and good rain fly. Apparently a nice rain storm blows through the valley just about every day. Thunder too!

Then there is the actual camping. Tents and sleeping bags are a given, but then there is a chair, my AeroPress and hand grinder and pound of whole bean coffee. (I know the requirements for camping right!) My JetBoil and fuel. Tuna and Beans and Oatmeal. The basics. Spork. Cutting board and knife. (Yes, also, 2 bottles of red wine.) (I do know how to camp right.)

Next up: The essentials. Toiletries and Clothing and Camera and Reading material.
Clothing for hiking and canyoneering.
Clothing for painting.
Clothing for everyday.
Something a little bit nice for the Art Reception and Shows.
Rain jacket. Fleece for cold painting days. Down jacket for nights.
Camera. Charger. Extra battery. Waterproof case (remember the canyoneering!)
Books. Book on Bryce and Zion. Book on Grand Canyon. A new Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel (!!) and an old Sunset magazine I found, still sealed from last year, all on the Grand Canyon!

Lastly, the painting stuff.
My OpenBoxM pochade, tripod, BestBrella, turp, extra turp, paints (not really a limited palette but still less than my normal palette, panels and panels galore. Then there are the boxes of frames! 4 9x12 floaters and 4 6x8 floaters as well as a bonus 6x8 frame that is just super cool and will look great with a colorful desert painting in it. Brushes and a big hat and wet panel carriers... that pile adds up quickly.

Now to fit it all into the car.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Frames, frames, frames

Took a chance on a new framing business and I am glad I did. I needed floater frames for my Plein air paintings which are for the most part, all on panels.  This company has a lot of options and free shipping and best of all outstanding customer service!! (Thank you Roger!) The finished frames are completely ready to hang, just add your painting. Find them at  (part of Franken Frames.)