With a promise of rain, we rose Friday morning, May 12th, and still headed over to Yosemite Valley to see if we could capture the stunning POV of El Capitan we witnessed yesterday. We were hoping we could get something accomplished, before the storm hit and, when it did, that the rain would be light.
Halfway there, our hopes faded, as we climbed into misty clouds that required the occasionally swish of windshield wipers to refresh our view. On arrival, it wasn’t raining, but all the rock monuments in the Valley were hidden behind clouds. We stopped a Pohono Bridge, hoping to set up and paint there. Didn’t need clear skies for that, since it’s on the Valley floor, but with the snow melt swollen Merced River, there was no bank to set up painting gear, on either side of the river. Anyone wanting to paint this bridge will need to wait until later in the year.
We decided to pick up the Valley Loop trail there and walk the 1.5 miles to our El Cap beauty shot. We wanted to hang out in the Valley awhile and see if the clouds cleared from the monuments. A walk along the trail was a pretty beautiful time-killer. Much of the loop was underwater and we had to make our way forward, roadside, until we’d passed the flooded sections. A word of caution to anyone planning to trail in Yosemite Valley in the near future: if you’ve got summer mesh hiking footwear, be sure to bring along an extra pair of socks, you’re likely to get your feet wet.
El Cap was still deep in cloud cover, when we reached our destination and it started to rain. So, we pulled our hoods up over our heads and backtracked along the trail, the mile and a half to the cars. I decided I was heading back to Wawona to do some painting, in the cabin from reference shots taken earlier in the week, if I had to. Let the rain come down outside, I wasn’t going to miss out on a day of painting. Kerby decided he’d stay in the Valley for a while: he had a few photographic ideas he wanted to play out.
Back at the cabin I looked around outside for something to paint. Itwasdefinitely going to rain, but I was willing to get started out in the open, take some reference shots and finish inside. I seriously considered the exterior of the cabin we were in staying in. It was interesting enough to paint, but who, other than those of us staying there, would find it interesting enough to want to buy it. I could imagine the gallery curator’s pitch, “It’s the cabin Trowzers Akimbo and the rest of his artist friends were staying in, while they were up in Yosemite painting for a week.” “Trowzers who?”
I decided a better idea would be to paint from one of the photos I’d taken earlier in the week. In fact, I had some good ones on my new Verizon phone, that I’d taken at the destined El Cap location. I just needed to get the photos from the new phone to my laptop and from there to my iPad. I linked Bluetooth between the two devices and attempted to send the photos over…nothing. After a few more tries, I gave up. This wasn’t going to work. Android didn’t seem to be interested in conversing in OS X with my MacBook Pro. With no Internet connection, I couldn’t get online to run down a solution to my problem. I seriously thought about chucking the idea of painting, at this point, and taking a well deserved nap the rest of the afternoon. A lessor man would have, but I’ve learned to embrace my neurosis and harness the fears of failure lurking there to keep me plodding forward towards success!
My digital SLR camera memory card was full and I’d emptied it onto my laptop, the night before, so I could clean the card and make room for new photos. I poured over the photos in the folder for something worthy of a painting. The only candidate far enough removed from the Chilnualna Falls paintings I’d been creating all week, was one of the shots I took yesterday of Half Dome, from Glacier Point. I loved the photo, but I wasn’t sure that once it was translated into a painting, it would still be legible as Half Dome to on-lookers: so much of the rock was obscured by the clouds and the Glacier Point perspective offers a less than typical point of view of the monument.
It having reached 3:30 or 4 pm, it was going to be this image or nothing. I set up my french paintbox near a window that would offer me the latest possible natural light and began slapping paint down on the canvas.
Only the finished painting will tell me whether Half Dome reads of not, but as you can see by the in progress painting above, at least I didn’t allow myself to succumb to a nap. Remember what Salvador Dalí said, “No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist!” Okay, Salvador, I skipped my nap, now where’s the masterpiece!