Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Painting Yosemite -Beauty and the Beast

The drive from Bishop, California to Yosemite National Park was a pleasant one.  This Western States Plein Air painting trip has been full of very nice experiences and from what I had heard about Yosemite, I anticipated it to be one of the highlights of this sojourn.

First impression: Where to go, where to camp, people and cars everywhere. Yikes! 
We were met with so many obstacles: not being able to camp in Yosemite Valley, no vacancies; reservations made five months in advance! ...you must camp in primitive sites an hour away, no showers, no electric, all food and toiletries out of cars and into bear boxes.

Whoa, step back, Jack!  Take a deep breath.  Our first break was a campground a half hour away.
I qualified for a site that only cost ten bucks a night. We set up camp and drove to the "Valley".  This place is beautiful but, too many people and cars on very windy roads.  I don't think I can paint here.

Slowly, we find places to paint. Then we found that we could camp in the valley by going to reservations and asking for cancellations of camp sites each morning. We're figuring it out, life is good.

Getting out of the car and hiking a little got me in touch with this place.  The beauty has emerged and the beast has faded away.  I started with the obvious monuments of mountaintops and waterfalls and then got lost in the inspiration of swirling water in the nearby river. 

The color in the water is incredible.  The light off the granite mountains just glow.  There's a certain peacefulness in these tall powerful trees where they seem to wrap their arms around you and say: "Take a deep breath and slow down."  Now, this is what nature is all about.

Al painting at Inspiration Point

As we drove around the Yosemite Valley, we kept passing a still water area of Merced River.  This was not a convenient place to stop but it caught my eye each time.  Finally, I stopped and walked the narrow roadway to this spot.  For me, it was magical.  Jutting out over the river was a flat rock that was just the size of my easel with space for me to stand.  I stood there thinking: this is just too simple...paintings need to have more in them. ..but, it's too incredible to pass up. "Streams of Color", an 8" x 10" painting was a sheer joy to paint.

"Streams of Colors", 8" x 10"
 plein air oil, Currier, $850
"Bridalveil Falls", 14" x 11"
plein air oil, Currier, $1200

"Half Dome", 8" x 10"
 plein air oil, Currier, $850
Next stop: Painting with the California Art Club with fifty other artists.

email: alfredcurrier (at) yahoo (dot) com


  1. Al, I am SO enjoying your blog posts. The paintings are gorgeous online, I can only image seeing them in person. Happy Trails.

  2. There are some magical spots, in Tuolumne Meadows too, Al. If youre still in the area its worth poking around and generally far less crowded.


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