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.
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.
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…..