Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sculpted by the wind

In the Petrified Forest. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x10

Outside Senoita. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x30

After painting in the Painted Desert Friday morning, I headed to Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "de shay," a fact I only recently learned).

It's a terrifyingly beautiful place. It was snowing, and the wind was blowing hard, and it was not really a day to paint, so I just looked. And looked. And was amazed.

The canyon drops hundreds and hundreds of feet from the rim. The drop is dizzying and, honestly, frightening. Never have I walked so carefully, or been so aware of my clumsiness. I could just see myself tripping on my feet and flying over the edge, tumbling to my death.

Wind and water have cut this canyon, carved it into swirls and cliffs and stone pillars. At the bottom, Native Americans still live, some in hogans. They tend sheep, weave, pursue native activities while tourists go by in buses, and jeeps and on horseback. I stayed on high and marveled.

Today, I will try to paint this amazing place. And then it's on to Santa Fe, and heading home.

Spider Rock, one of the formations in Canyon de Chelly.

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