This Sunday April 13th if you’re in the DC area you can come and join me and other plein aire painters while we paint cherry blossom landscapes at the foot of North Capitol Street. Click on the map for directions.
Bring your sketchbook, easel and brushes, camera or phone, picnic or dog, or just your eyeballs. These are some of the prettiest trees in the city, complete with Capitol view and reflecting pool, andthere’s parking on the weekends. (Please don’t tell anybody! It’s my big secret, just you & me.)
Last year we went to Fort Washington Park and there were just a few lovely old Yoshino trees, but no water for them to reflect in, which really makes them extra pretty.
You can tweet me at @PatriseArt for realtime info, in case I just can’t take the beauty of the day and end up there sooner, which seems very likely.
Catching up now, since we have safely landed at Pleasant Hill, here is the:
Grand Canyon report from Day 9
We considered passing the Canyon by in order to save time, and dismissed that idea within seconds. Our hearts were clear. I wanted to see Flagstaff, to satisfy a nostalgic itch I was having, so we fueled up at Starbucks and also put gas in the car. What a sweet western town, plenty of hippie vibes, and that mountain pine scent in the air.
We chose the more scenic route that took us across the shoulders of the San Francisco Peaks through the Coconino and Kaibab national forests, and were well rewarded with towering pines and views of the mountain turning blue-violet in the afternoon. Lo and behold the engine light came on again once we passed 7,000 feet in altitude. This time we knew why.
We arrived at the park gates to find three lanes of visitors, checked in (thank you Senior Park Pass!) and were guided to a particular lot. Steps from our car was the storied abyss, glorious in late afternoon light. I oogled, I snapped pics, walked, then sat and filled myself with canyon beauty.
When I sat and allowed the scene to fill me with color and light and space and beautiful air, I began to “see” things. My mind embellished the natural patterns with order that was unlikely to be there: Tibetan monasteries, stupas, temples, arches and windows. There was even a pyramid!
I felt like I was an instrument being played by the landscape. It was sublime, splendid, spectacular, and special, and I will commence a plan to return with the time to contemplate, to paint, and to invite the Grand Canyon to make music with me.
The Josephine Report:
Grand Canyon, Take One
How many beautiful calendar pictures of the Grand Canyon have I ingested in my lifetime? Cliche # 2: no picture captures the overwhelming “whatness” you’re reaching for as you approach the experience itself.
I think I expected a straight-down-from-the-rim-to-the-bottom visual, and what I discovered was a complex system of canyons stretching over many hundreds of twisty square miles. Looking down, I could barely discern the Colorado River (and only a tiny glimpse from one vantage point) that created this majesty. Looking across, the other world of the North Rim was unimaginable, and the Painted Desert beyond, unfathomable.
I’m so accustomed to be able to focus and that’s just what this landscape refuses. Here’s what friend Glee Bartlett has to say about that:
“I remember painting at the canyon. I spent the day at it, but the canyon kept changing — every I’d time I’d look up I’d lose my focal point. So, I also painted — in great detail — the large green fly that lit on my easel and rested a for a longggg time. I love that painting.”
The distances, colors and perspectives were constantly evolving as the late afternoon light and our position changed. Distances? The faraway to the North Rim is just that, until I read the placard saying it’s 9 miles away. And the Painted Desert behind THAT — the same desert we’d visited (admittedly in a different part) several hours earlier. There is definitely something mind-bending going on here.
Glee, I remain in gratitude to your large green fly, who helps to ground us,