Rich, Rich, Rich. As in Inspiration! We head up to the mountains for our annual Colorado fix. Rico is a cozy x-mining mountain town, full of mining history and outdoor recreational opportunity including plein air painting and sketching. Before I get started in Rico, I take a drive up the road to Lizard Head Peak and meadows for the most expansive views. The light is changing so fast, I can’t focus on just one painting, so it’ll be a study of light and shadow on the peak. I draw out six of the same scene in charcoal and tape off my canvas paper. Mr. Pepe is companiero… My set up is mostly on the ground as I didn’t bring an easel, plus there are some strong gusts coming off the prevailing thunderstorm headed in this direction. I am painting these 5×5 inch squares with a three foot long paint brush! Try it! Pirate Jack cracks the whip/waits patiently… Anything to hang out in such a beautiful place for hours at a time… Pulling out of the meadow, we head further up the road to check out Trout Lake. The road takes us all the way around the lake and back to Lizard Head meadows. Past the old train trestle. Try drawing this…next time. Back to Rico. Next morning on the daily dog walk, I start to think about another painting project and scout for a good spot/theme. How about the river, or some local color. or the ever present boys, after all. Too frisky for plein air, methinks. On that note, a dogs-butt-eye-view? Nah… I decide on the river. The thought of sitting next to the fast flowing waters is very pleasing. I think I’ll do a 12 hour 12 painting study of the water flow (thinking…can get you into trouble), sitting right out on this rock bank, looking at this. …or this view…what was that about painting river scenes? Always upriver or downriver? More West Rico scenic arrangements… telephone pole, wires, suburbans, fire-hydrants? cute cabins? No, the river beckons. I decide to make some studies first. I don’t normally plan so much. But, I’ve decided to go for 12 hours of painting so I make 12 drawings of the scene. I make 4 on-site drawings and map the rest from the on-site studies. This time saving effort is a mistake, and I know it (yes, time saving cancels out creative spontaneity), but the weather is turning and the Rico 4th of July “duck race”, is coming down the river this afternoon. Don’t want to upstage any ducks. I assemble the 12-tych and wait for the ducks to be apprehended by the Fire Department…this is an annual Rico event, where the first so many numbered ducks to be scooped up yield prizes for their donors…spa, cruise, I should of bought some ducks! see those little yellow dots=ducks. As I drew, I made color notes by pulling out my color squares to see if anything jibed. These grids are very useful. Pepe et Jacques wait semi-patiently for the project to unfold…what am I saying? It’s either doggie-food or walkie-time. Oh, and, here we have a firework! It is the 4th afterall. Next morning: Here we go, 12 paintings today, I’m ready! But, hey, it’s raining…better at least make an effort. I start by flipping thru my grids/swatches. I’ve promised myself to use no more than 3 colors for each painting, to see if there will be an obvious color cast or scheme to each painting for each hour of the day…. I start at 8:30 AM, a little later than I’d hoped, it’s the thin desert blood, part reptile, hard to get going here in the cold/wet. On to the next hour. After four hours I am chilled to the bone and stuck to this rock, so it’s time to warm up and come back tomorrow. Next morning: Hello sunshine! So much for my 12 painting continuation. The weather conditions are so different my project vision is not going to work. How about having some fun with aspen leaves instead. I zoom-in for positive/negative space balance with overlapping simple geometric shapes, a formal exercise that can be as complex as desired. I pick a simple palette of Quin Red, Diox. Purple and Sap Green, colors (aniline dyes) rarely used (by me) in Tucson for plein air. There is a lot of purple up here in the mountains. I make four studies and then see if I can create a balanced composition by rearranging them, like solving a puzzle. another arrangement: It would work better to alter some of the values of the shapes, and open things up, by wiping and scraping paint away, staining the canvas and brightening the already dull mixtures of pigments. It would also help a great deal to see this from a distance and with some time elapse. I will wait to continue in the Tucson home-studio. Next morning: We take a final walk. Our walk turns wet so we find respite in a tin shed. Rain doesn’t last long and soon we resume to the beaver pond. Active, healthy beaver pond, good sign. Little dog: Bear Bait or…expert wildlife detector? History abounds all around, very picturesque. Enamel+Chrome+Weeds=Textural Wonder. On the way out of town, I pass by my favorite “fixer-upper”, affectionately called, “the gray box”. Someday, little gray box, someday. Sixty miles downstream, a stop at The Depot for a bite in the slightly warmer, dryer, town of Dolores. Colorado bids adieu with a perfectly appropriate rainbow. But, first, a visit to the Durango Art Center to pick up a form for the annual members exhibit. I am inspired to make something out of all of this weeks’ work for their themed show: Stay tuned. The Arizona road home takes us thru Holbrook. Mr. Pepe is pooped. Up out of Salt River Canyon, we hit some quick, big drops and then a flash of red, just off to the right, the Salt is running red.