Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spring City

About a month ago I was goaded into participating in a plein air painting competition with one of my dear friends. For those of you reading this who don't know what plein air is, it is painting in the open, on the landscape, from the landscape, from life. It is so beautiful but so hard, especially once it gets cold. Then it's just impossible. For me at least. I admire those who trek out into the snow to paint the beautifully frozen landscape.

My friend is a landscape painter (she has beautiful work, and a cool website, so you should check it out here) and is always bringing me along with her on her painting adventures, and I enjoy them. Landscape painting does not come naturally to me, but I love being outside more than I care about how my painting turns out, so I tag along.
This time around, we went to Spring City, Utah, which is a little town somewhere between Manti and Provo. Basically in the mountains far away from everything. It was originally a farming town, and still is largely, but in recent years, it has become known for it's art scene, of all things. There are a few little galleries along the one street in town, and it is surrounded by the most gorgeous mountains. It is a beautifully peaceful kind of place.

I don't know much about plein air competitions, but it was cool to be a part of one. I got a badge and a bag and everything! My favorite part though was the place we went to paint. Out away from the town even further from civilization, around this little fishing lake. There were a few cabins, and sheep grazing fields, but mostly just rolling hills, pines, and aspens. And we saw a fox! I'd never seen one in the wild before and it was magical. He was hanging out with a deer, and I'd like to think they were friends. We really only glimpsed a flash of his tail, but there was no way of missing or mistaking it! Those creatures are the most vibrant color!

My first painting came after wandering through the grazing fields and almost getting chased down by some sheep dogs. By the way, who thought up the clever idea of using white dogs? Because they definitely fooled us, we didn't see them until they barked, when we tried to touch the sheep- they did not like that. Thankfully they actually let us pet them (meaning the dogs, not the sheep. I am convinced dogs are the jealous type and can't stand letting anyone get attention other than themselves. I still love them though) instead of biting our hands off.
Then I painted the lake, while trying to fend off curious sheep from eating my paints.

My second painting came after we decided to hike the "small" hill. I like to think we almost made it to the top, but it probably was just a false summit. Either way, we got high enough to see this incredible view, right as the sun was beginning to dive to the horizon.

The trek up was partly on hidden deer trails, and mostly through the undergrowth. We climbed through pine trees and then through the beautiful aspens. There was so much peace in that place, I was amazed. It is just incredible how everything mundane and inconsequential about everyday life just disappears when you are standing in a mountain meadow with your eyes to the sky. The calm of being in God's creations enters your heart and leaves you with the feeling that nothing really matters but that moment. 

After the above attempted painting, we hiked back down in the most glorious golden light I've ever had the privilege of seeing. It got me thinking about the sacred nature of this world. Just the simple act of being out in the trees was enough to feel how much God loves us. I believe he made this world for us, why shouldn't we enjoy it and see as much of it as we can? In fact, I believe it is our duty to protect it. It is not ours. It is on loan to us. We should do our very best to not destroy it.

Thanks for coming with me to revisit this memory. If you are interested in owning one of these paintings, or any of my work, the link to my Etsy shop is in the About Me section of this page. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016


For the next couple of posts I would like to talk about the natural wonder that is the state of Utah. If you have ever been here, it is a place unlike any other, and not just because of the high density of Mormons, although that definitely adds to its peculiarity. There are five National Parks, over a dozen state parks, and many more national monuments, national forests, and many historic sites related to the pioneer heritage of this state. It is every camping, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, nature lover guru's dream. Utah is a place that everyone needs to come to at least once in their life, just to experience the beautiful variety that is the landscape here. From red rock to aspen forests, it is when you get above and away from the smoggy valleys that you see the true glory of the Utah landscape.

You can't be afraid to get away from civilization though, that is for sure. Many of the sites are far from major cities. But there is nothing that compares to standing atop a mountain ridge completely alone with the whispering trees as your only companions. Some of my most spiritual experiences have happened where there are very few people, surrounded by God's creations.

I didn't use to think this way about Utah. But I had never been in the mountains. Once I stepped foot on my first hiking path here, I knew I was in love. In love with the landscape, in love with the forests, in love with the mountains. The mountains are holy places, and I hope you will have the chance to visit them. They are my old friends, and they welcome all.

Those who know me well know that I bring my sketchbook everywhere I go. I would call it my comfort blanket, except it isn't really that. It has taken me a while to be ok drawing in front of people. and I still feel self-conscious. But my desire to try and capture the beauty around me is stronger than my embarrassment. And so I draw. I paint. And when there isn't time, I take photos to come back to paint and draw from. Utah is a rich beautiful place to try and capture. 

 And so I come to my conclusion, I would like to share the images I create from my wanderings around this beautiful state, and beyond. So this is the place they will be. I am never content with just knowing one place my whole life, I don't even know if that would be possible for me. I need to see and experience new things all the time, even if they are just a couple hours away. I hope you will enjoy coming along with me.