I was fortunate to be the Artist in Residence at Zion National Park during the month of February, 2018. It was a wonderful experience with every day allowing me to live in and explore Zion Canyon. I hiked the trails reaching the stunning vistas and vantage points as well as painting “plein air” on several occasions when the weather was warm enough to keep me seated outdoors for a couple of hours.
One day, I decided to hike the Watchman Trail in mid afternoon. The day was clear and the light was really nice, and became even better as the day progressed. There were many points along the trail that offered inspirational views, but this one stopped me in my tracks. I had rounded a bend in the trail, and the late afternoon light was dappling across the trail backlighting and illuminating some of the trees with others cast in shadow. The foreground trees and the direction of the trail perfectly framed the distant peaks which had a few remaining rock faces glowing with the last of the afternoon sun and the rest dropping into purple shadows. Spectacular! I took several photos to catch the lighting as it was changing fast, knowing that this would become a painting. Later, when I returned to my lodging at the cabin, I poured myself a nice glass of wine and happily began to work on this painting.
Many Pools Canyon, 2018
Zion National Park
April 19, 2018
Exposure: f/64 at 10 seconds on Kodak Copy Film (ASA 25), 250mm lens
8x10 Platinum/Palladium Print, printed directly from the negative
The petrified sand dunes of Zion's Checkerboard Mesa area provide a wonderful interaction of geologic history and the light of the present. While no one image can capture it all, this one hints of the play of rock, water, light and time.
Graphite on Paper
18” x 24”
"Species on the Brink" is one of five drawings in a series celebrating the flora and fauna of Zion National Park. During my time as an Artist in Residence with Zion, I spent the majority of my days exploring the canyon, observing the park's incredible biodiversity. I had the opportunity to join staff on a hike to spot Bighorn Sheep and talked with them about Spotted Owls and Condors. Combining these experiences with educational materials provided by park staff and a bit of my own research, "Species on the Brink" highlights species that were once, or still are at risk within Zion National Park: Mexican Spotted Owlet, Peregrine Falcon, Condor hatchling, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Mojave Desert Tortoise, Monarch Butterflies. Nine sensitive plant species are also depicted: Higgin's Penstemon, Charleston's Violet, Shivwits Milkvetch, Canaan Daisy, James' Buckwheat, Jones' Goldenaster, Foster's Columbine, Black Spleenwort and Cliff Jamesia.
[In 2018] Zion is the third most visited park in the NPS. With four million visitors and an eight-mile stretch of road, there is bound to be litter. When I arrived, many of the trails were closed due to recent slides, including Angels Landing, so the large number of visitors were limited even further. One of the greatest attractions of the park is the Narrows that takes visitors up through the Virgin River as the thousand-foot walls Zion Canyon tower on either side. Because of the unique qualities of the hike, many shoes unfortunately, get left behind. By the end of my time in Zion, I found upwards of 30 shoes along the Riverside Walk leading to the Narrows, discarded after being filled with sand, drenched, or broken.
Painting on shoes has always offered a literal perspective on the idea of a human footprint. My time spent in Zion involved reflecting upon steps that I can personally take to become more sustainable.
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Last updated: July 29, 2019