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!

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