Escalante, Utah

Escalante, Utah isn’t a real big town. It might push a 1,000 people…maybe counting tourists during the height of the season. I don’t know. There are no signal lights. There’s one grocery story and the selection is limited. Reminded me of up in Northern British Columbia and the Yukon. Escalante is located on scenic Highway 12 in the southern part of Utah. The closest large town is St. George, Utah about 150 miles away. It truly is out in the middle of a vast scenic land.

Consequently, internet service is extremely limited and I was much surprised that there is cell service. What internet there is I hook up to through the hotspot on my cell phone as where I am camped, there is not wi-fi. That little dial that goes around and around showing that a page is loading on the computer screen barely moves. This again reminds me of the North Country when I rode my motorcycle to Alaska a couple of years ago.

Because of this slow service, uploading photos is prohibitive….so all I can do is tell you what’s happening. You’ll have to use your imagination to conjure up the images of the paintings I’m doing and the country I am describing. When I get back to civilization, I’ll post the pictures.

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m here for the Escalante Canyons Art Festival, aka Everett Ruess Days. The story of Everett Ruess is interesting but that’s for another time. The festival is typical plein air painting events that are so popular and are held all around the country now. This is the 13th year for this one however.

I first discovered it in 2003 when I passed through here. It had just been held. I participated the next 4 years though and loved it. The red rock and geological features in this part of Utah are a real departure from my safe haven of the Colorado Rockies paintings I usually do. I enjoy it to the extent that I almost have equal paintings of this landscape as I do the mountains.

This is Sunday and I arrived Thursday evening. We have to have whatever canvases or paper we will paint on stamped to show official entry, which I did Friday morning. I managed a watercolor and an oil painting that first day. Yesterday I ventured down the Smokey Mt. road, a dirt road of some 40 miles. I only went about 6 miles to find the painting I wanted to do. Didn’t see a soul the entire morning.

In the afternoon I tried a watercolor of an old victorian style house in town. It was white in color with a couple of large cottonwoods in the yard which cast some great shadows across the side of the building. I wasn’t real happy with the result. I may try it again however because I think it’d make a great painting if I can pull it off.

Yesterday afternoon I drove high into the surrounding Dixie National Forest and found some aspens turning color that made for a descent watercolor. Last night I attempted something I’ve never done before. This year the festival has a special category for nocturnal paintings…that’s right, paintings done at night. It’s the big thing right now, so I signed up and did one. Very interesting. Can’t wait to show you the results.

That’s it for now since, it’ll take some time for this to post due to the slow internet.Day light is burning and I’ve got paintings to do.