So the Red Squirrel and I headed for the hills last month in a knock-down drag-out hike and painting excursion. It was the week before Memorial Day and the lines were manageable. What wasn’t as easily manageable was the super-dry air and cottonwoods that was everywhere. Suffice it to say, I was allergic to Zion National Park.
But still, I persevered. Painting in and around the park was really challenging. I had gone with the intent of using gouache. It didn’t help I had forgot my much-needed spray bottle to keep the paints wet. Within minutes the gouache was crusting over and drying out no matter how much water I dipped on them. So I switched over to watercolors.
The thing about painting in unfamiliar territory is that it takes some getting used to. Translating what you see can be difficult. Going back to my fundamentals of big to smaller shapes only helped so much. The rocks overall had gradients, and textures even when squinting, and the shadows weren’t always obvious, especially when they were the only thing that you could “accentuate” the shape of the rock with.
I didn’t care for any of these. Granted there were a few moments but overall I can only say I showed up and did the work and tried to remind myself, a bad day in the field is better than a great day in any office.
It wasn’t until the final day I was able to see the light in my painting. But even then I was mesmerized and confused by the rushing water. I think I needed another month there to get comfortable. And maybe my allergies would have finally abated.
I think the lesson for me here is to take my kit out before I go on my trip to make sure I have everything I need. In this case I ran out of time. But thankfully I had some back-up options. Definitely worth a trip if you can plan it.