Saturday, June 22, 2013

Painting the serene places

Overflow, 9x9 acrylic
Here's another way serenity can be deceptive.... imagine the rush of water it's taken to carve out this grotto.  Now, there's a tranquil passage of pools and drops through this narrow space in National Canyon.  In July of 2012 this was a raging torrent of flash flood, taking out the campsites, remodeling the channel, funneling boulders and debris into the Colorado... building a new rapid.  Check out this video,.... this is more like what JW Powell would have experienced, amazing!  He said in his journals that the water was "too thick to drink but too thin to plow."

I loved exploring this canyon.  It seemed raw, not yet settled into itself.... I noticed that the only established vegetation was clinging to the rock well over my head.  Wonder how fast I could climb these sandstone shelves if I needed to in a hurry??

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Layers and Stripes

6x6 acrylic, see DPW for purchase information
It's the calm places in between the chaos of rapids that lead your eye up and out.  From river level you have no idea the size, extravagance and grand-ness of the canyon in its entirety.  What you see is magnificent enough, a cacophony of rock from massive boulders to sand beaches. Pancaked layers and twisted slabs, in nutmeg and rust and mauve, faded citron, ash grey and dust.  Everywhere dripping salmon to cinnamon, the iron leached reds with a scattering of tenacious greens.  Schist, diabase, travertine, dikes and sills, eruptions, intrusions and unconformities.  Serenity can be deceptive!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wash Cycle

6x6" acrylic, see DPW for purchase information
This is the wash cycle, where the rapid takes charge.  Let's just say that the Colorado River has some very animated water in many places along the 278 mile length of it's Grand Canyon!  All but one of the  23 named rapids from Phantom Ranch (RiverMile 88.3) to our pull out at RM 187.5 are caused by debris flows from side canyons and tributary streams.  Before the dam, large floods tended to disperse boulders downstream making the area of the rapids a little less problematic for river runners.  The Glen Canyon dam has significantly changed the character of the entire river ecosystem in other ways too.  It traps silt and particulate debris in Lake Powell so the water runs relatively clear and because water is released from the middle depth of the lake, at 46 degrees, it is much colder than before.  The flow of water ebbs and surges regularly over a 24 hour period like an ocean tide, it's flow rate  (from 1,000 to 92,000 cfs = cubic feet per second) moderated by our voracious demand for water, doesn't come close to historical floods exceeding 240,000 to 300,000 cfs.  For better or for worse, for the blink of an eye or for an eternity, in seen and unseen ways, the hand of man is now an integral part of this spectacular landscape.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Colorado River Running," Into the Great Unknown"

Whew! finally we made it to the river, hooray!  Cooled off with repeated dunks, refueled by lunch, gear packed into dry bags- chain gang-ed up and lashed onto the boat, buckled into PFD's,  one more dunk..... and a shove off into the Colorado.  The learning curve is steep, after a few little riffles the first rapids are impressively large.  Visualize a tower of water, a foot or more over your head comin' right at you.....  screaming is frequent and loud. (although not necessarily out of fear, it's just that 50 degree water slap... somehow you just need to scream :)  I have chosen the full on experience, my seat is affectionately dubbed the bidet... that is to distinguish it from the bathtub which is front and center.  The best spot on the boat however is on the pontoons.  You are up higher and can see both sides of the river.  This is definitely not John Wesley Powell's river rafting experience but exciting nonetheless.  (yee haw, ride 'em cowgirl!)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pre Wash

6x6 acrylic, see DPW for purchase information

Here's a sneak peek at what we'll find once we hit the river.  Traveling by boat through rapids is a little like doing all the cycles of the washing machine at once!  On the big ones there is often an extra rinse & spin :D.  This one is only the pre wash though, just to get you in the mood.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places."    (NYTimes, Eric Weiner)

The term "thin places" is Celtic in origin, the gist of it's meaning is a place where heaven and earth are very close together.  I interpret that as a place that takes your breath away, startling consciousness into an orientation beyond the mundane.  The physical locations of thin places may be unpredictable and different for each person since they are really more about the person than the place, but here in the rarified air above the abyss you might just find yourself attuned to such a thinness.

The walking trail along the South Rim provides breathtaking views at every turn.  The geology interpretive center at Yavapai Point is also a favorite.  Sunrise is around 5ish and it's worth getting up to greet the day.  There will be more resident critters and less humanity encountered besides the lovely air temp. and magical light show as dawn pours into the canyon.  

The Way Down

6x6 acrylic, see DailyPaintWorks for purchase info.

Don't know why I pick the most difficult image to warm up on, came very close to being a wiper but, in this case, more fussing helped.  I like the painting better than the photo, it does put me back on the rim (there was an elk browsing right behind me) so I'll take that as a successful effort!

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Tediousness of Superlatives

Superlatives as applied to such a vista, while true, clearly show the limitation of language.  This is a place you must experience for yourself.  Someone else describing it for you is a poor second best.  That is one reason I paint.... another attempt to express the ineffable.  It's purpose is to entice you into the experience yourself or, if you've been there, to revisit the spine tingling memory of the sublime.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Grand Canyon, part I

....a deep gorge in Arizona formed by the Colorado River; approx. 277 miles long, 5-15 miles wide and up to 6,000 feet deep.  One of the 7 natural wonders of the world (although we all know there are very, very many more)  It was designated a national park in 1919.  
Just returned from a raft trip down part of the Grand Canyon... and oh so Grand it was!  I have many images to process, so might as well stretch this out.  I hope you enjoy sharing my adventure.

Logistics can be an issue, so FYI here's what worked for me.  Get up oh dark thirty, drag sister out of bed (love you Lynn :) for airport delivery (too early for KitsapAirporter, yawn)  Place backpack in duffel, lug to counter and check 'er in. (pray quietly it makes the same connections I do)  Security lines short and relaxed (one perk of early AM flights)  Fly to Phoenix, with delay for maintenance issue?? run like antelope to catch next flight to Flagstaff, thank the child wailing and puking (in the seat a few rows back) for clean up delay allowing time for pack to get onto plane, prayers answered :)  Arrive Flagstaff's Pulliam Airport, lovely place to nap for 3 hours waiting for Arizona Shuttle to arrive and haul me to the South Rim.  Arrive about 3pm (thanks Dave).  Try not to pass out in heat, whoa, this white girl is HOT! and this pack is HEAVY.  Thankfully there are ample and convenient shuttles to Mather campground east of hotel zone.  Set up in "walk in" campsite... gloat that it is only $6 per night (with shower & toilet facilities.... yessss!)  Orient with a little x-country walk to the rim, meeting the natives as I go.  Be amazed!  Oh, and drink a LOT of water, also, ice cream becomes essential food group.