Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Painting in Yellowstone Park - Transendent Experience

Ken Burns' inspiring series now on Public Television brought back with amazing clarity my first experience with the national park system.  I drove across the country from New Jersey to California in a '50 Buick 4 door and slept in the back seat at truck stops serenaded by cattle carriers and revving Mack's and Peterbuilt's.  Burns speaks of having a transcendent experience upon a first viewing..indeed.  I spent the night outside the gate to the Grand Canyon south rim and entered at the early morning opening in time time to see the sunrise across the canyon.  The cool air chilled the body and etched the image forever.  I promised to return not knowing when.  I was still in college and had not yet decided to go on to study painting and illustration at the Art Center School as it was known at the time... now The Art Center College of Design.
The next experience was similarly sleepless in a parking lot near Artists' Point in the Yellowstone accompanied by my wife and an acrobatic Great Pyrenees with paws the size of catcher's mitts. Every animal sound within ear shot was translated into a trampling leap from front to side to back of the Econoline van which served as house and home for the trip. Finally at sunrise we wandered down the path to the lookout and watched the most incredible display of light crawl down the canyon walls warming both body and soul with sulfur yellows, crimsons and deep purples.  Again, I vowed to return to paint this time as I had graduated from the ACS some years before. 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - 30 x 40 oil

Shoshone River Canyon- oil

Canyon Pools - plein air gouache - 3" x 5"

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