Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cathedral Lake

On Wednesday, Belinda and I hiked from Toulolomy Meadows, up in the "high country" out to Cathedral Lake. It has nothing to do with the Cathedral Rocks, down in Yosemite Valley. Not sure why they used the same name for the rock formation down in the valley when they already have a mountain named Cathedral Peaks up in the high country.
At any rate, it was supposed to be a 3.5 mile hike ... but, since they don't mark the trails in the winter, and there was still a great deal of snow ... well, okay, we went off trail a bit. No, that's not a nice way of saying that we got lost; we knew exactly where we were (consulted the topo map a few times), we just didn't know where the heck the trail was. It may have been much easier going on the trail ... as we had some real difficult spots ... crossing streams and marshes (which were covered with snow -- always fun to fall through the snow bridges into a few feet of ice cold water.

When we finally waded out to some rocks by the upper lake, I only had about 45 minutes to do some painting so that we could hike back out while there was still light. It was a blast to paint ... what I got done, anyway. It's definitely one of my favorite spots in the park so far.

On the way back we came upon some backpackers who had spent the last several days hiking up from the valley. They were in need of a little assistance. They were three very nice, post grad biology students. We gave them a rade back to the valley and enjoyed thier company for the evening as they pitched their tent in our front yard. I hope that we get to see more of our new friends. I also hope to get back to do some more painting in the high country.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Unfortunately, I can only hop onto the internet every once in a while. Between going on hikes and painting, I have a hard time making it to any place that has wi-fi ... and the place in the park is not very reliable because of the amount of people trying to access it at the same time. So, I'm going to combine a few of my plein air trips here.

Vernal Fall

I hiked up to the base of Vernal Fall and wedged my easel down in the rocks for a spectacular view. It was a little misty, and I was whipped from the climb up. It's not that it was a difficult climb, really -- it is steep, but it's less than 2 miles. The thing was that I didn't have anything at all to eat in the morning before heading up ... and haddn't eaten much the day before. Derrrr. As a runner, I know better.

The painting went well and I found a Korean coin in the sand between the rocks ... one of the old style with the hole in the middle.

Taft Point/Sentenal Dome

Belinda and I spent an entire day up on the cliffs near Glacier Point. Oy. Heights are not my favorite thing in the world ... and we were right on the edge of some of them.
That's Belinda standing at the end of that rock. I couldn't force myself to get any closer than about five feet.

Fantastic views ... and a great place to set up the old easel. We were tramping through lots of snow still on the trails. We went off trail to find a nice place to paint Taft Point. We then took a trail that went right along the edge of the cliffs. Some of those parts were covered in snow. I'm not sure about the official name of the trail, but I think that it should be called something like "shit your paints trail" or something of that sort.

This trail wound around and ended above Glacier Point ... then up to the top of Sentenal Dome. A spectacular day of hiking and painting. Devil's Tub

An old guide from the park came in for a visit last weekend and took a few of us up to a place that only park employees know about. It's called Devil's Bath Tub because it's at a midway point of a waterfall that goes down the warm, rocky face of a cliff for several thousand feet, pooling amongst the rocks before plummeting the remaining several hundred feet to the valley floor. The water is warmed from the rocks and a redish growth of lichens or moss grows up the face of the rock. Aparently many people go up there to do some nude sun bathing. We saw a few people up there, but they were all respectably dressed.

I set up my easel under a nice, shady pine and did a painting looking west down the length of the valley. It was a windy day and I had to actually hold on to my easel a few times. The climb down was a little rougher than the way up ... because it was as close to cliff climbing as I've done since coming here. Because of time restraints, I only got a little over an hour to paint ... so that painting is going to need some extra attention. I did get an offer to buy it, though, as we were hiking back to camp through the valley.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Glacier Point

On Thursday Belinda and I drove up to Glacier Point ... arguably the most spectacular views in the park! A year ago I came for a visit and we drove up there ... but it was cloudy and raining and we couldn't see a thing. I wasn't ready for the vistas that I beheld! Wow.

Our little cabin is located between these rock formations near the bottom of this picture.

We hiked down a few miles toward Illuette Fall and had some awesome scenery. On the way we came across a bear. He was only about fifteen feet from us, clawing at a rotting log for the insects. His tag was blue, number 53. The colour of the tag indicates what year in which bears are born -- and he was the 53rd of whatever year that was - Belinda guessed that he was about two years old. I had no way of guessing, as the only bears that I'd seen so far have been cubs.

We stood and watched Blue 53 dig away for grubs for a long while. I got some great shots with my camera ... even a sweet little video, too. I tried to post it here, but can't seem to get it to load. I plan to do an etching of the little guy ... and maybe a painting, too --- but, how does one do a painting of a bear without it being a "wildlife" painting? Hmmm.

On the way home I did glimpse a full grown bear as it was about to launch itself from the steep hillside above us onto the road. Fortunately, at the last moment, it saw us and went in another direction. Belinda said that there were two of them, but I only saw the one (as it nearly made me jam on my breaks). Nothin' like seein' a big ol' bear runnin' out of the woods! We circled back to see if we could find them, but they were long gone by then.

I plan to make many more trips up to Glacier Point to paint ... and over to Tuolumne Meadows, while the weather permits, to do tons of painting.
. Tuolumne Meadows

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Show

Last Friday was the reception at the Avenue West Gallery for the "First Friday Art Walk". It was my turn to be the "featured artist of the month" so I had the large wall at the entrance and put up a "retrospective" display. "Retrospective" is kind of an excuse to pull out a bunch of stuff, old and new, in an attempt to appeal to as many people as possible. The show went fairly well and I've sold 4 pieces.

It was fun to drive up from California to Spokane to put it together, see old friends, and family. I also had my son, Ben fly over and then drive down to Yosemite where he surprised his mom.

It's been kind of a whirl-wind these last few weeks. Ben flew back to Michigan yesterday. I miss him a lot; it was great to have him hanging out with me for the last week. Now it's time for me to get back to work painting. I'm excited -- I've found a lot more places to paint in the park.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Painting with Del

I had the honor and privilege to spend the last couple of days painting with Del. We worked on a still life of Lilacs. It was nice to be back in the studio after doing a lot of plein air work. I love painting out doors, but it's always nice to be back in the studio, especially painting with a friend.
Marge, Del's wife, is always such a great hostess, too; feeding us lunch and providing excellent critiques. Thanks, Marge.
It's tempting to make a spot for the new painting in my show, but I wouldn't know what to take down ... and I don't really want to go out and find a frame, either. Besides, I think that it will make a nice gift for Belinda when I return. It's been tough being away from her - much tougher than I thought that it would be. You see, Belinda and I have been divorced for 20 years now (21 at the end of June!), but we've come back around full circle. The love, which we shared in our youth, is rekindled like a warm blaze; like a 50,000 acre forest fire.