Friday, May 1, 2009

Back from the Zion Plein Air Invitational

I arrived in Zion National Park a day early to check out the painting locations for the "In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran" plein air invitational and to just explore the park. During the day I took the time to climb up the popular Angel's Landing trail. I meant to just hike up to the notch at Refrigerator Canyon at the base of the infamous Walter's Wiggles switchbacks. Half way there I realized my sandals weren't up to the task, so I decided to go barefoot. At the notch, I thought I'd hike up some of the wiggles to see what they're like and ended up doing all 21 of them. Once at Scout's Lookout I could see the final summit ridge and couldn't resist going all the way. I got lots of comments about being barefoot, but sandstone is very forgiving and the views of Zion Canyon from the top was well worth the effort.
That evening I left the park to get to the free lodging that was offered at the Ponderosa Resort a few minutes from the park's east entrance. I shared a beautiful resort cabin with fellow artists Brad Holt and Doug Martin. Free digs, but the downside was that we had to commute 30 minutes of winding roads into and out of the park each day. All the artists met at the museum on Monday for a pre-paint out meeting and then we headed out to paint for four days. The painting locations were selected based on Thomas Moran's sketches of Zion, but we had plenty of leeway as to what to paint. Zion is a wonderful place to be and to paint, and except for some cold morning winds, we had near perfect weather all week. We were given a pass to drive up Zion Canyon as far as the lodge, but to go farther up canyon we had to ride the tour buses. Occasionally, a few of us would meet up for lunch or dinner at various local restaurants in Springdale that offered discounted meals for the event artists. All the food was excellent.

This piece sold at auction.

A couple of favorites that are still hanging at the Bingham Gallery

Each artist selected five or so of our best work to be hung for that Friday's wet paint sale at the Maynard Dixon Studio and Gallery in Mt. Carmel Junction just east of the park. This sale was to last through the weekend, but many of us left our paintings there to be shown through May. The paintings we sent ahead of time to the Zion Human History Gallery and the Bingham Gallery will also continue to be shown throughout the month. If you're travelling through southern Utah this month, be sure to stop by the various galleries to see the fine art produced for this show. On Saturday an auction was held at the Zion Lodge. The best part of this was the earrings and necklace I won for my wife Michelle as a gift for making this trip possible. She took time off work to manage the household and kids all by herself while I was gone for the week. Thanks, Michelle!

Maynard Dixon Studio Gallery.

The seven pieces I submitted for the wet paint sale.

The beautiful Bingham Gallery.

The painting I submitted for this is next to the window.

I feel fortunate to have been invited to this show. I made some new friends, learned a lot and did couple of decent Zion paintings. Thanks to Anne Wieler-Brown, Z-arts, Bingham Gallery, Thunderbird Foundation and Zion National Park for putting together a great inaugural Zion Plein Air Invitational. I also came home with a ton of reference photos and sketches of Zion, the Mt. Carmel Jct. area and the Vermilion Cliffs - lots and lots of painting ideas! Now it's time to get ready for the Phippen Western Art Show and Sale....


Mick Carney said...

Looks like a fabulous show. Love your pieces and am looking forward to seeing the results of research on the trip.

Bill Cramer said...

Mick, Thanks. I've done a couple of paintings already! I'm feeling really motivated now that I'm home.