I have posted more accurate photos of the paintings from my Zion artist residency than previously posted here. (Those were snapshots taken in the shade of the Grotto House.) Time and reactions will tell which will eventually appear on my website. I continue to work from drawings that I made there, more to come.


Left Zion

I’ve been enjoying the exploration of nearby areas as we work our way back home – at first slowly and now, into the final two-day marathon drive.

Here is the entry I left in the guest book (that I’m guessing Michele Lauriat made?). If you cannot read my handwriting, either because the photo is low-resolution or because it’s my handwriting —  here it is as text:

“September 7 – October 8, 2012

A blissful month as Artist-in-Residence: I have contemplated the nature of Time – and Nature in time, too – with great pleasure. It is certainly my idea of Zion (sanctuary) to spend so much time outdoors in such immense, imposing and infinitely variable surroundings.

At 6:00am I’ve just seen the first headlamp lights bobbing down the road and heard the slats on the bridge clank to their feet. I’d hear the first shuttle whoosh in around 7:20am. The deer will munch around my car under the big tooth maple. The fox will prowl under the picnic tables – several times a day. If no fox, then turkeys. I know when the afternoon sun will disappear behind Lady Mountain, and the evening chorus of crickets (cicadas?) begins. The moths – large enough to pollinate the sacred datura flowers – hit on the windows of the Grotto House so loudly it sounds like rain. The moon will be brighter than dawn. The morning breezes will blow down the canyon and the rhythm of the day will all begin again. Sadly, without me – though as I’ve said to many Park and Southern Utah University people, I’ll do nearly anything to come back.

I painted 33 watercolors, about a third in the field, a third here in the Grotto House, and a third from my detail photos of rock textures. I invited somewhere between 100-200 people in to see what I was working on. I hiked somewhere most days of the week. I have 10 drawings yet to be turned into paintings, and thousands of panoramic photos of landscapes and burned trees that I’ll be working on at home.

I got to see rain in the desert; the pour-off at Emerald Pools was like a muddy Niagara.

My life and work is immeasurably richer for the time I’ve spent here; I am optimistic that I’ve brought the program goals of “insight, enjoyment and understanding” to other visitors.

Suze Woolf
Seattle, WA in life
Zion Canyon in spirit”

Suze Woolf guest book entry at Grotto House, in Zion National Park

A last canyon watercolor in the guest book

Leaving Zion

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion (Psalms 137:1 and Bob Marley 😉

Only one more day open to hike and paint in this incredible environment. Then I will spend a day packing and cleaning the Grotto House for its next inhabitants.  I gave my  talk at Southern Utah University in Cedar City last night, and will speak at Zion Lodge in the Park tonight. Here is my slide deck:

Suze Woolf Zion Artist in Residence, October 2012

A Rant about Litter in the Frontcountry

It seems to me that the closer one is to a road, the greater the likelihood you will see cast-aside tissues. I’m no fan of any garbage in the wrong place, but tissues cast aside in places that are World Heritage sites, jewels of national park systems of any nation, are just plain unforgivable. Don’t they know they take 2-3 years to decompose? (And probably longer in dry environments like this one in Zion.) It’s not as if they get any better-looking with time. Who do they think is going to clean them up?

What could we do to change this horrible – and I hope unconscious – habit?  Nothing takes me out of my deep appreciative and serene meditative state in the wilderness more than seeing these ugly reminders of unthinking carelessness.

Fall on the Rim

Suddenly yesterday I knew it was autumn. It’s not light until 7am and gets dark at 8pm. And the quality of the light is different – sharper, lower-angle. The nights, down in the canyon, are below 60 degrees – probably below 50 on the rim. It takes longer for things to dry. Hiking up on the East Rim, I saw shrubby oaks and big-tooth maples turning. Even though the two are unrelated, it’s the autumn of the residency, too: only one week more. I will miss living surrounded by such intense beauty that several times every day I have to stop dead and gawk.

Over the weekend I tried to get to parts of the Park I hadn’t seen yet — the East Rim trail from the east entrance, Kolob Canyons. Since I was at the east entrance on Saturday, I drove over to Mt. Carmel and visited Maynard Dixon’s summer house. The view of the Pink and White Cliffs of the Paunsaugunt Plateau was another stop-dead moment. In this case I pulled over near a dirt road, got out the folding chair, camera, painting kit and water. I walked a few hundred yards off the road. For an hour and a half I was lost to the world, concentrating on the placement and forms. The light shifted constantly as incipient thunderheads built up to the north. Breezes and a few raindrops made it tolerable to be out in mid-afternoon without shade. If it hadn’t been for a persistent yellow jacket, I’d be there still.

I’ve realized it’s the landscapes that I have to do while I’m still here. My library of rock textures is extensive, but to really get genius loci in a landscape painting, I need to do it either from life or very soon thereafter.

I’ll be giving my talk at Southern Utah University soon, so I’ve been working on the presentation. I was very pleased to have a studio visit from Superintendent Jock Whitworth, who seemed pleased with what he saw. And on October 5 I’ll be speaking and showing my work in the Park at Zion Lodge. Winding up!