Two days in Bluff provided a wealth of visual input. The first day was cloudy and blustery, and while the rest of the group bundled up and went hiking, I drove up a broad canyon and spent a lovely time creating a pencil sketch of a big butte from the warmth of my car. One of the joys of drawing is the directness with which one's visual perception is rendered onto paper. The butte was a feast for the eyes (see left), there was no sign of human civilization within sight, and the tranquility of the scene was occasionally enhanced by a soaring hawk or a group of deer heading for the creek in front of me. I was fully engaged with the task at hand, and at peace with myself and the world. While the result is nothing to treasure, it was the process rather than the product that I sought.
The second day was warmer and much sunnier, and this time I accompanied the others on a morning hike to one of the many Anasazi ruins to be found in the area. Late in the afternoon, three of us took a walk along the San Juan river to view a panel of pictographs and petroglyphs left behind by long-vanished inhabitants. The quality of light was exquisite, and I satisfied my artistic impulses with many photographs of patterns and textures in the cliffs and on the ground. The images will provide visual inspiration, as well as remind me of the beauty of the day and the place, when I am back in the studio. The image at the right is one of my favorites.
Bluff has always been a special place to me, There is something about its particular combination of river, buttes, and sky that speaks to my soul. I feel at home, and at the same time am filled with a longing to create, to render what I see and feel. I have painted there before, and will no doubt do so again.