Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Red Arch

10” x 8”

Through my job with Great Old Broads for Wilderness, I had the opportunity to serve as the organization’s representative at a fundraising event that was a 5-day combination river trip-watercolor workshop on the San Juan River in Utah. I know, isn’t that the greatest thing ever?

I could go on and on about the trip, which was amazing. I had some anxiety beforehand, as it was my first multi-day river trip. Once I acclimated to the heat, the wind, and became “one with the sand” (as advised by a seasoned river woman), I found myself immersed in a magical landscape carved by wind and water with the most wonderful group of women you could hope to travel with.

Our watercolor instructor was the talented Suze Woolf, from whom I hoped to learn some color tricks and how to loosen up my painting. While waiting for a photo opportunity (part of my trip duties), I broke out my kit to paint the ridge to the east. This painting stayed quite loose as I was standing up, holding the paper in my hand. While compensating for the wind, I dabbed my brush into the palette balanced in the crotch of a tree, while my water container sat on the ground. (It was too damn hot to sit in the dirt.)

The cliffs jut impossibly high into the sky along parts of the river and the rock varies from smooth spans of creamy coral sandstone to black, pockmarked, and ribbed slabs of basalt. Of course, there is sand, sand, more sand, and gravel that wants to get into your sandals and chew up your feet. Crows and ravens soar above the cliffs, colorful lizards sun themselves on rocks, bighorn sheep (we saw lambs!) leap up and down ridiculously steep slopes, and feral burros bray through the night. There was no end to the visual entertainment.

We had plenty of painting time too, and while I didn’t come back with many “winners”, I learned a lot, got to know some great women, and have two or three more paintings that need finishing. More on unfinished paintings in a future post…

P.S. A big shout-out to Holiday River Expeditions, who gave us an exceptional adventure, and have the most accomplished kickass young women river guides—probably in the world.

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