Friday, November 12, 2010

Buckaroos and Artists -- Waddie Mitchell and the Arizona Strip

Roland Lee, cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell, and Lyman Hafen at the Arizona Strip Interpretive Association's annual dinner
The Arizona Strip Interpretive Association held their annual fund-raising banquet and auction last night. As in most years, I donated a piece of art for their silent auction. In addition to a great dinner, we saw a preview of the new documentary by Phil Tuckett on the CCC camps on the Arizona Strip. But the highlight was a performance by everyone's favorite cowboy poet, Waddie Mitchell. My wife Nellie and I were fortunate enough to sit with Debbie and Lyman Hafen, and Lisa and Waddie Mitchell during dinner. Afterwards Waddie treated us to some of his delightful cowboy humor spoken with the slow Buckaroo drawl and precise timing that only he can deliver. I'm often asked to donate art to auctions, but I'm seldom entertained as well as we were last night.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran Plein Air Show a huge success for everyone involved

The weather was incomparable, the fall colors at their peak, and the artists were in their glory this past week in Zion National Park. It all ended too soon as far as I was concerned, but our glorious "painting vacation" in Zion went out with a bang as hundreds of collectors showed up for the Friday "High-noon Quick-Draw" competition and even more for the big preview Friday night. I was able to complete 8 paintings this week, which is some kind of a record for me, plus another in the one-hour quick draw. My Quick-Draw painting won the high bid at the auction and I sold four more paintings at the plein air sale, and also sold my piece in the Museum show. Most of the other artists did equally as well and the Zion National Park Foundation was able to generate a substantial sum for their projects.

A crowd gathered as the one-hour timer began in the "Quick Draw" event. 23 artists set up around the Human History Museum and collectors dashed from artist to artist watching paintings come alive before their eyes

I am using an Anderson easel and my favorite painting chair to get comfortable for the ordeal. Actually it went quite smoothly and I was relaxed enough to answer questions while I painted

The finished painting of "Mountain of the Sun" seen in the distance

I was impressed with the quality of the paintings produced in such a short time. Although still wet, all paintings were required to be framed and ready for the auction within 30 minutes of completion

I was fortunate to have a number of people bidding on my painting, but Debbie Mace from Sandy, Utah was the high bidder and went home with the painting

The Zion National Park Nature Center became a gorgeous art gallery for the next two days as specially-built panels were used to display the plein air paintings

A limited-ticket reception and sale took place Friday night with a standing room only crowd. Eager collectors snapped up dozens of pieces in the opening minutes of the show and more throughout the weekend. A number of ribbons were given for purchase awards.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran" Plein Air Paint-Out in Zion Park - First 3 Days

What a marvelous week we are having in Zion National Park. We joined about 22 other artists for the 2nd Invitational Plein air art event celebrating Tomas Moran's visit to Zion Canyon. Sales from the show and quick draw will benefit the Zion National Park Foundation. The gorgeous Majestic View Lodge provided our wonderful accommodations for the week.

Things kicked off Monday with a quick breakfast for the artists at the Mean Bean in Springdale (the fresh apricot scones are to die for). After an introduction and directions from show organizer Anne Weiler-Brown the artists headed out in different directions to find the ideal painting spots. Lucky for us the Canyon Cottonwoods and Red Maples all turned on cue this week providing a myriad of colorful vistas to choose from. For me it's like a kid in a candy store. To have a full week in Zion, with no restrictions, and paint kit in hand -- I'm one happy boy!

Monday I got started with a quick small study of the West Temple from Pine Creek, then moved on up to Heaps Canyon where the yellow Cottonwoods added a fresh glow to the red cliffs. I did a sketchbook value study to determine my composition then launched into the painting. I used my Anderson easel, and folding chair to make things very comfortable.

Tuesday we drove up to East Zion for a day painting in one of my favorite spots near Checkerboard Mesa. The fall colors were perfect and the weather was toasty. I did a few studies in both my sketchbook and in watercolor of some of the gnarly old Junipers.

At lunch I met Nellie at the Clear Creek Guest Ranch just outside the East entrance, where my son Jon is the manager. We had a nice visit with my grandkids who are in heaven living at that wonderful place.

This morning I got moving early before the sun came up and climbed the hill behind our hotel where I set up my easel awaiting the sunrise. Experience had told me that the first rays of sun would light up West Temple and the Three Marys in a spectacular display of reds. I started my sketch while it was just getting light and laid in the basic washes on the cliffs, sky and foreground. By the time the sun peaked over Johnson Mountain I was poised and ready to slap on the yellows and oranges. I only had about 20 minutes before the shadow crawled all the way down the face, so I worked as fast as I could. The air warmed considerably as the sun bathed the entire valley but I continued to work on the painting until I felt good about it.

Still full of enthusiasm I headed up Canyon where I sketched some sacred Datura flowers, and did a small study of the East face Zion from just outside the entrance to the Park. After lunch I found a pastoral, but vibrant spot at a little waterfall on Pine Creek and used my tiny portable paint set to do a nice study. The warm air, cool babbling creek, and bright yellow leaves all around just seemed too perfect. Indeed I felt very lucky.

This afternoon we got together with a few of the collectors who are providing purchase awards. Hal and Julie Anderson selected my painting "Angel's Walk" from the studio show in the Museum as their purchase. Hal also serves on the board of directors of Zion Natural History Association.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Receiving "Signature Status" highlights 90th Annual National Watercolor Society Exhibit

Roland Lee and his painting of Lake Powell which was accepted into the 90the annual NWS show in Long Beach CA
Roland Lee and his painting of Lake Powell which was accepted into the 90the annual NWS show in Long Beach CA

The National Watercolor Society's new gallery was a beautiful venue for the 90th annual show. I was pleased to have my painting given a prominent location in the exhibit.

Roland Lee receives signature membership from John Salminen and NWS president Mike Bailey at the 90th annual NWS exhibit
Roland Lee receives signature membership from John Salminen and NWS president Mike Bailey at the 90th annual NWS exhibit

Nellie and I traveled to Long Beach California over the weekend to attend the opening reception and banquet for the 90th annual National Watercolor Society. I was pleased to have my painting of Lake Powell accepted in the exhibition, but was especially honored by being inducted into the NWS as a signature member. Noted watercolorist John Salminen presented the award along with NWS president Mike Bailey at a special luncheon October 31 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Pedro. Following the presentation we attended the show opening and ribbon-cutting of the new National Watercolor Society Gallery in San Pedro. The NWS is one of the oldest and most respected art societies and it is indeed an honor to be accepted as a signature member.

Roland Lee and artist Frank Eber at the NWS exhibit October 2010
I enjoyed meeting some of the other artists I respect and admire including Frank Eber.