Saturday, May 31, 2014

Plein Air Painting in Arizona

I recently returned from a plein air painting vacation in Arizona. Our original intention was to stay in Oak Creek Canyon, which I’ve always considered one of the most beautiful places in all of northern Arizona. Unfortunately, disaster struck a few days before we left home in the form of the Slide Fire. This large wildfire broke out in Oak Creek Canyon and is not yet fully contained.

Changing our plans quickly, we elected to stay in Sedona which is slightly further to the south. Sedona is a very magical place with huge red rock mesas and incredible views. Though I hadn’t been there in many years, it remains one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. Evidence of the fire was seen in the form of firefighters and service vehicles in town and obscuring smoke all through Sedona in the mornings, some days heavy enough to obscure the mesas. On those days we drove south until we found a non-smoky (or less smoky) spot for painting. Later in the day the smoke tended to dissipate, at least at ground level, so there were many more options for painting. I painted two paintings a day for several days. It was a fantastic trip— beautiful, hot, adventurous, and I enjoyed every minute of it!
Smoke from the Slide Fire rises in the distance

This is the first painting I did early Sunday morning, showing the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The smoke was not too bad when I started painting, but by the time I was done, the smoke had dropped enough to make breathing a bit uncomfortable. The chapel is an impressive structure nestled amongst the red rocks. You can read more about it here.
"Chapel of the Holy Cross" watercolor 9" x 12"

Pretty happy with the painting

My plein air setup

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