Outdoor Show

Yesterday, my husband and I attended Canyon Colors, an outdoor art show at Gateway Canyons Resort in Unaweep Canyon, about an hour's drive from our home.

Most of the fall color has faded from the high country, but autumn is moving down into the canyons. Cottonwoods, willows, and other riparian trees are turning gold. The oak brush, or scrub oak, locally known as "magic carpet" is blanketing slopes with rich tones of rust, orange, maroon, and even purple. The drive from our home to the resort was spectacular.

I was scheduled to participate in the "Paint the Palisade" plein air event from 12-4 and to teach a children's class from 1:40-2:10. I had spent weeks updating my website and adding pictures of the area to online outlets. I had my flier ready and had materials for my class--peeled crayons, paper, and copies of a verse from one of my books.

The weather was grim when we arrived, and getting worse. My husband headed for the car museum (fantastic, by the way) while I hitched a ride from the parking lot to the event area. I signed up for the plein air contest and received my tags, then rode back to the car. Unwilling to haul a French easel, two toolboxes filled with acrylics, a jug of water, a canvas tote filled with brushes, rags, and miscellaneous junk, and a folding stool all the way back to the main area, I set up at the far end of the parking lot. I looked at my watch. I had a little more than an hour before I had to go back to the main area for my class.

I set up and roughed in my composition. The wind came up. I slammed the easel's upper support down on the top edge of my canvas just before my incipient masterpiece took flight.

The light changed. I adjusted the colors. It changed again. I adjusted again.

A nice guy in a truck drove across gravel straight toward me--"I'll take it" he shouted. (I told you he was nice.)

"No, you won't," I shouted back, glancing at my watch miserably.

"The light keeps changing. It's a disaster!"

I fussed with it for ten more wretched minutes before I had to pack everything back into the car and drive back to my original spot so my husband could find it. Our lunch was in the backseat.

Thinking I would still have at least two hours to finish up after my class, I grabbed my teaching supplies and headed back to the event center. After being shuttled from one person to another for several minutes, and, in general being ignored, I realized that they did not really need me.

About that time, my husband arrived. His back was in spasm. He couldn't find the car. The sky looked ominous. Clearly, it was time to head for home.

What did I learn?

1. Don't volunteer to teach a class at an event unless you have attended before and know what to expect.

2. Don't try do do a plein air painting and teach a class.

3. Take reference photographs of changing light.

Would I do it again? Sure, it was for a great cause--The Western Colorado Center for the Arts. Would I do it the same way? Of course not! Any more questions?

Photo credits: Linda Armstrong.

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