January in Long Canyon


Long Canyon, apart from being absolutely gorgeous with its infinite range of orange-red walls, stripes of desert varnish, cracks and fissures and magical water pockets, is also plowed in the winter and wide enough so that I can park Aphrodite. So I usually enjoy some winter drawing there.The canyon walls are so tall that I have to semi recline to see the skyline out of my picture window.

Aphrodite in the Desert       (For those of you who haven’t met Aphrodite with her great picture window…)

IMG_0060 (1)
Such a lovely commute to Long Canyon too, and my lunch break spot  was under a huge old cottonwood in the pale pink orange sand facing the walls of the gulch, rock ledges climbing, dotted with juniper. I am always tickled at being so cozy in Aphrodite, able to warm up soup and recline with a tea. On one of my lunch breaks I decided to take a walk down the Upper Gulch. I hadn’t been there in years…. It was magical. In the canyon shadows the cottonwoods gleamed a beautiful blue- purple steel gray, their finer branches a filigree of silver,the muted red of the walls mysteriously flickering through the trees.The glowing sand by the creek was dotted with rabbit brush, a pale green gray,their seed heads alight. A wonderland! I don’t know how utter silence and the burble of a stream can occupy the same space, but here they do.The stream was partially iced over and Sophy had a fine old time rolling on it, occasionally breaking through the ice with a crunch crack.

I found a stand of cottonwoods that I couldn’t resist, and decided to come back with my pastels. Who would have thought one could paint in the shadows of a canyon next to a stream in January? But there I was, day after day, though I was gradually chilled after an hour and would hurry back through the canyon, fingers cold on the cold metal easel. Aphrodite awaited with the promise of warm tea.

Winter Cottonwoods, Upper Gulch
Today is overcast and the reds and burnt oranges of the canyon walls with all their variations are saturated and not in competition with the sky which this past week had been a ridiculously bright cobalt blue. I’m glad I was able to finish my sunny day drawings. I am hoping though that I can still draw the magic of the shady Gulch in winter, the sand luminous, the trees glowing, the stream burbling, and the shaded red orange walls sneaking through the branches, but snow has been forecast and we do so dearly need the moisture. And then again there are always all those unfinished pastels of snowy slickrock…..

10 thoughts on “January in Long Canyon

  1. Ela Brickson

    These are all outstanding. You paint the canyon better than any photograph I’ve ever seen. I long to revisit Long Canyon and the breath taking Grand staircase so much. Thanks for bringing it so alive in the dead of winter.

  2. How wonderful to see a glimpse of that “ridiculously blue cobalt sky,” Scotty. Thank you for posting these along with your reflections.

    1. Thanks Carolyn…are you enjoying winter in Bluff or back in New York? greetings to you both.

  3. Craig Lovato

    Scotty, what is the size of this pastel?

    1. Craig hello. Do you mean the pastel that’s on top of the blog? If so it’s a big one,38.5″ by 28″ approx.(I haven’t framed it yet…but the frame adds about 11″ to the dimensions.Cheers

  4. Lovely wintertime paintings. Isn’t it dark in Long Canyon with the sun so low in the sky. I like that you enjoy the quiet and solitude so much.

    1. Maggie greeting! Actually there’s wonderful play of sun and shade in the canyon in the winter and…Aphrodite has a furnace!

  5. Great compliments and contrast with the cobalt sky and red orange rock! Enjoy your poetic text as well.

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