Plein Air Painters of America

A MEMORY  It was the fall of 2002, Sangha, my golden retriever, and I packed ourselves in the 4x4 and headed off for a road trip to Colorado. I, to paint with a group from the Plein Air Painters of America, and Sangha to play with the Plein Air Painters of America. We had been on the road for awhile, having left northern California. We pulled off 70E at a rest stop, and we happened by surprise upon this blaze of Utah autumn hues while hiking around a rocky outcropping. A vendor was selling tacky leather crafts while Sangha and I took pleasure in visiting with the weary eastbound travelers. Then off we went, crossing the rain-soaked terrain. It's summer's last hurrah when colors go darker, deeper, more delicious entirely. As here, in the raisin-hued mud. The mountains are as intriguing in texture as a Braque collage. As rich in red wine hues as a Caravaggio. It's a stunning tour-de-force joining as one. A radiantly conceived landscape, both jubilant and restful, like an abstract painting, mingled hues of charcoal, mocha, and golden taupe chart the land. It tells the tale of transformation, of change wrought deep within the earth. As the rain poured, I could see a mountain transforming before my eyes! Rock and water mixed to form a soup mixture, and it roared down the mountain with such force I know by tomorrow the mountain will have transformed tremendously. And the lightning! What a bonus. Like the lime in my Corona, it's all the little extras that make life enjoyable. On our approach to Grand Junction, Colorado, I was thinking to myself, Henny Penny might have been right about the sky falling. I knew skies like this existed in Van Gogh's paintings, but I didn't know they were for real. Swirls dark and light mingled together above the searching lightning rods. It was like some higher power above stirring, sending feelers down to connect with the earth. At last, Sangha and I arrived Winter Park. It was more beautiful than I had imagined. Imagine Moroccan tiles patterned with vivid squares woven in intricate geometrics that glow in a tamarind soft sage and hibiscus. It's like a dark, sultry purr ... one great spill of color. Like tongues of a flame, a thicket of leaves in hues of pumpkin, burgundy and deep red, are exuberantly welcoming autumn. Deep in the backcountry, the late-day sun slanted into a hidden ravine. The cascading stream shone as golden as the precious flakes and nuggets hidden in the river's sands.

After the PAPA orientation, I went up to the cabin to settle down fo