Friday, August 12, 2011

Dawn Moon

Dawn Moon
11" X 14"

One of the many amazing things about our Whitney trip was that it occurred as the moon waxed full. Although Clint planned it that way, for me it was a magical surprise when the moon—golden from the smoke of fires further north—slowly rose over the edge of the cirque at Trail Camp.

As it climbed, it became bigger and brighter, and whiter, throwing so much light into the clear, indigo evening, it created an eerie, almost daylight effect. I've never experienced a moon so bright. I had to sleep on my stomach so the light wouldn't keep me awake.

When we awoke, just before dawn, there was our moon, gently hanging over the ridge to the west. A big pearl casting a soft glow over the cup of earth where we sipped our tea, and thought about the day ahead.

The next night, the moon was fully revealed, looming even larger and brighter than the night before. It had been a big day—summit day. We were tired, turning in well before the moon had traveled far from the horizon.

But I couldn’t sleep. I was restless—hot and cold at the same time. I dozed a little off and on, and although I tried to ignore the urge, finally got up to empty my bladder. When I crawled out of the tent, I was astounded by the brightness of the porcelain ridges lit by the moon. The sharp, surreal black and white landscape absolutely took my breath away.

Again, I was struck by the eerie not-daylight—but not night—kind of light. It was stark and beautiful. And the stars! Even with the fluorescent moon, a bazillion diamond pinpoints crowded the sky. The unmistakable swath of the Milky Way hung over me in all its glory. I felt very small and insignificant, but honored.

I crawled back into the tent and finally slept until nearly dawn. We enjoyed that last delicious daybreak, the iridescent moon against the ridge surface that moved from cool blues and grays with a blush of pink, to coral-orange, then fading as the sun peeked over the Inyos. There are many people who will never see a sunrise as amazing as this. How lucky we were.

With this painting, I wanted to keep the feeling loose and wild. I wanted to capture the colossal and luminous moon in those last moments before dawn. That magical light and magical nights I will never forget.

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