Attitude is everything

After two days of rain I was stir-crazy, so I took this morning’s single patch of blue sky as a good omen and set off for the Lakeshore Trail. Since it doesn’t have a huge elevation gain, I figured it would be a good candidate because it was below the now-3000-foot snow level. And I thought it would not take me that long to get back if it did begin to rain hard.

I made it to the Flick Creek Shelter as it began raining in earnest. I set up inside it and passed a pleasant hour bundled in all my clothing, painting the view out its open southern exposure. The painting looked a good bit like south eastern Alaska instead of the dry side of the North Cascades!  I had to be willing to paint the view to the south even though the better shapes and values were to the north.

Set up inside the Flick Creek Shelter

Set up inside the Flick Creek Shelter

The sun even came out as I was finishing, so I continued on. I heard loons and watched two grebes fishing. But alas the clouds descended again; I hiked the four-some miles back to Stehekin in total downpour. I didn’t see any other painters today – come to think of it, I didn’t see any other people!

Suze Woolf soaked but happy

Soaked but still happy to be out. My Artist Easel Company easel attaches to a standard camera tripod. Paints, paper, board etc. are packed inside the pack in their own heavyweight plastic bag.

I’m so happy I have someplace dry and warm to sleep tonight!

Exploding Views

If I really work at it I can make a scene fit my sheet – really I can. The board in my little plein air kit (gator foam covered with adhesive plastic) fits a quarter-size watercolor sheet (11 x 15). As a consequence that’s the size I generally do outdoors, even when I all I do is a drawing on the sheet, and paint it later. But here in Zion Canyon, the views are so expansive I can rarely contain the scene on a sheet of that proportion – it demands to be wider or taller than “normal”. Over and over I end up continuing the drawing onto a second and even third sheet.

Two days ago while hiking up Observation Point I started thinking about shaped sheets. One of the beauties of work on paper is that one is surely not bound to a rectangle.  This is looking down on the canyon floor, Mt. Moroni, one of the Patriarchs, and the top of Angel’s Landing,

Painting of Zion Canyon

Shaped-sheet painting “Observing Zion” ~30″ x 11″, watercolor on paper

Further update:  similar viewpoint to Maynard Dixon’s painting of Angel’s Landing and the Great White Throne (a double-quarter-sheet diptych, 15 x 22).

Painting of Great White Throne, Angels Landing, Zion National Park

My version of the Great White Throne and Angels Landing, similar to Maynard Dixon’s

The newest rock texture, from my day of painted desert hiking on the southwest side of the park.

Painting of gypsum, limestone and shale in Zion National Park

Gypsum and shale in Scroggins Wash, watercolor on paper, 11″ x 11″

And another update: a better tarantula photo (second sighting).

Photo of tarantula in Zion National Park

About two-thirds the size of my hand.


Saw my first tarantula, crawling in the grass by the side of the Angel’s Landing trail, near the bottom. Pretty cute.  Yesterday I saw a shed snake skin, off the Kolob Terrace road.

Photo of tarantula

My first tarantula

Photo of snake skin

High-fashion former snake costume

I’m realizing I am at the half-way point of the residency, and a low-grade panic is setting in. There’s so much more to do! I’m just getting to know a few people. I haven’t painted the river yet, or the huge blind arch on Red Arch Mountain behind the house. I haven’t been hiking in Kolob Canyons or on the east side. There are so many more rock textures to collect and paint…