“In October 2013, I joined 12 other painting friends for a trip to Southern Utah, Northern Arizona and New Mexico. We rented a large log house just south of Moab, near the Canyonlands and the Arches National Parks and about two hours north of the Monument Valley.
Participating artists came from Cape Cod, New York, Maine, California, Colorado and Mexico. Addison artists Peter Kalill, Frank Gardner and Marc Hanson were involved in the excursion. We have painted together as a group on trips to Maine, Mexico and Provincetown on Cape Cod. *
Painting together is always a learning experience as we watch how different people handle each scene in their unique way. The energy we get from the group dynamic is infectious. We are there to paint and even though we are not in competition with each other, we each try and keep up with the other artists as we get to work each day. At the end of the day we put out the still wet paintings and, although we don’t have a formal critique, we will make comments and suggestions and offer encouragement.
I try and find something new and interesting each time I paint in the coastal surroundings I am familiar with. Going to paint someplace like the western deserts and canyons is a shock to the system- inspiring in the way it differs so much from what I am used to and a little intimidating because it is so unfamiliar.
We mostly enjoyed good weather: warm sunshine and very little breeze. Toward the end we had some clouds and wind. We wound up with a few paintings that have western sand embedded in the surface. We even had snow on the ground the day we left, but most days we painted wearing t-shirts in the warm sun.
The western landscape in this region is vast, incredible and monumental. It is a challenge to translate this kind of scenery into a small painting. The color of the landscape is different from what I used to, with a lot of reds and grays and browns. I enjoyed trying to work with the light and shadows on the hills, buttes and canyons, and seeing the change of color as the rocky landscape receded into the distance over many miles. Red rocks would look purple at a distance and then blue even farther away. The terrain is so varied, changing drastically with a few miles from mountains to canyons. Sometimes the rock shapes look strange and other worldly, which can be a challenge to paint.
All in all, it was a great western adventure and an inspiring visual feast. It was also an opportunity to catch up with friends who don’t get to see each other very often. We are lucky we had the opportunity to get together and paint the western landscape.
* People often ask “Why only men?” The reason is that we are just friends out to have some fun and hang out together while painting. And most of us have wives and girlfriends that appreciate we don’t invite women to join us.” —Paul Schulenburg