national parks

Thanksgiving in Utah

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Utah is, so far, my favorite state to stare at.

181122 Springdale Utah

Waking up to orange-red rocks against the sky is like opening a present. I was in love when we visited Arches and Moab three years ago, and I couldn't wait to go back. Sure, I would choose ocean over mountains all day long, but when the mountains are rusty monoliths and creamsicle spires and golden slot canyons ... let's just say it's easy to forget the allure of crashing waves for a few days.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we went to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

We started our trip in Springdale, Utah, just outside Zion National Park. Our first day in the park was chilly and rainy, but we still managed to do a bit of the Riverside Walk (though not the Narrows as we'd planned), Weeping Rock, and the Lower Emerald Pool trail before retreating to our hotel for a nap.

Friday, however, brought better weather. We got an early start for our hike up the trail to Scout's Lookout. M. went up there but I stopped in the middle of Walter's Wiggles (a series of switchbacks) to sketch the valley below.

181123 Zion NP Utah

After lunch we headed to Bryce Canyon, where we saw the sun slowly sink over the snow-dusted hoodoos.

Our destination that evening was Escalante; I did a quick watercolor of the view outside our hotel room window the next morning as the sun rapidly rose.

181124 Escalante Utah

Following a long drive on an unpaved road and a rather taxing rock scramble, we arrived at Dry Fork slot canyon, one of several at Grand Staircase. It was quite an experience to wander through it as the walls narrowed and opened up by turns.

In the afternoon we backtracked on Route 12 on our way to Cedar City.

181124 Hwy 12 Utah

I sketched the area near Bryce Canyon this time, and did some quick captures of the otherworldly formations all around us on the highway.

181124 Hwy 12 near Bryce Canyon

181124 Hwy 12 Utah formations

We had to stop in Cedar City because it's the home of SUMA. Not me, the other SUMA. :)

I was sad to leave Utah on Sunday (though I will admit that our relaxing afternoon at Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo in Vegas was the perfect chaser to all that hiking). On our next visit, I'd love to bring my easel and oils and spend more time painting the breathtaking landscapes in this state.


Till Next Time, Inktober!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

You know I wouldn't let October end without a marathon of ink drawing on Halloween night, right?

Here in one catch-up post are the rest of the drawings I did over the course of this month.

This pumpkin farm about 15 minutes south of us is the real deal -- rows upon rows of pumpkins grown just in time for carving. I only had a few minutes to capture it in a sketchbook, but I'd love to go back down to the area with a proper kit.

181015 pumpkins Morgan Hill

Some persimmons, because everyone draws them and eats them out here:

181012 persimmons

And an assortment of other things -- a fake skull missing its lower jaw, from our Halloween box:

181030 skulls

Some stylized cacti:

Cactus illustration - Inktober

Completely random doodles that may or may not have been inspired by the official Inktober prompts:

181031 inktober end

During the final stretch, I resorted to thumbnailing from photos I had taken.

181031 thumbnails

To color my thumbnail sketches, I used QOR watercolor dot cards. I have been accumulating them at conferences, and it was really cool to put them to use. What's neat about these cards, unlike similar ones from Daniel Smith, is that the pigment is on a coated stock; none of the paint is wasted. I can wipe down the dot cards so they don't get too muddy.

181031 inktober end 2

That's it for Inktober 2018! Overall, it was still a good experience to participate in this challenge. I used a range of different pens, so that was a win. And yes, I couldn't resist adding some watercolor in there; I do love how it complements the ink lines.

How did you Inktober?