Grand Canyon Celebration of Art – 10th Annual in 2018
|Sunrise, Grand Canyon|
This week, I’m lost. I’m wandering the rim of a vast canyon, taking any trail that offers the least promise of finding a special place. But I’m not outfitted with hiking boots and water bottle; instead, my gear consist of computer and sketchpad. I’m exploring Grand Canyon in a virtual way from my studio, sorting through all my past paintings and photographs and making little sketches, seeking inspiration for an important painting.
As you might remember, I’ve been invited back to participate in the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art this fall. For the event, I need to create a studio painting that will go in the catalog and be exhibited along with my plein air paintings at the show. The task of creating a painting that is 1) different from everyone else’s so it stands out and yet 2) traditional enough that it will attract a buyer is a real challenge, considering the high caliber of artists invited each year. During a time like this, I take many walks. I find that a long, solitary hike—or maybe several—helps me discover the bright, shiny nugget of an idea in my personal landscape of images.
|Some of Myy Paintings of Grand Canyon|
Over the course of this research, I’ve learned that I’ve painted over 120 views of Grand Canyon. This does not include the casual sketches, but only the serious efforts. Most of them are plein air, painted either on expeditions to the Canyon or at the Celebration of Art . (This will make my fifth time as an invited artist.) During the course of painting the outdoor pieces, I’ve experienced hammering rain and explosive lightning; chilling snow squalls that rattled sleet down onto my palette; awesome, billowy clouds piling up before a storm; the Canyon filled with impenetrable fog; rosy sunrises and golden sunsets of which one cannot fail to make a postcard-perfect photo; and wind powerful enough to rip brushes out of your hand. Looking through my images brings all of these moments back to me, which is a very pleasurable thing.
I’ll be posting updates on my blog as I go through the process of creating the painting. In the meantime, I offer you some photos of me painting at Grand Canyon over the years. I’m also hoping to get up to the Canyon this winter to paint snow, if we do get any snow this season!
By the way, if you are an outdoor painter, the Grand Canyon Association, which hosts the Celebration of Art, reserves a few spots on the roster for new artists. You an apply on-line at https://www.callforentry.org/festivals_unique_info.php?ID=4811 Good luck! I hope to see you there September 8-16, 2018.
Michael Chesley Johnson, AIS PSA MPAC PSNM