Amarillo Art Institute and Palo Duro Canyon

Thanks to Amanda Danning and a benefactor, I headed to the Amarillo Art Institute to soak up painting wisdom from Josh Sorenson (Mon-Wed) followed by camping in Palo Duro Canyon (Thurs-Sun).  To make it worse, it’s going to have a highs in the 70’s and 80’s.  Torture.

Sunday travel: 8 hours travel time from Harker Heights to Amarillo through Ft. Worth.  Almost instantly after passing through the sky scrapers and scent of cow manure  Ft Worth was gone and so was my cell phone reception.  I realized after about 20 checks to see if my FaceBook new reel updated and failed, I might have to face reality: a flat, open non-digital land.

The Yum Machine Store
It’ll Do Motel. Panhandle folk love being small town and show it! This is just one of many businesses with funny names.

This photo of the “24/7 Yum Machine Store” caught the character of Chillicothe, TX pretty good.  As I passed through Quanah, I saw a train car with “Hooker” sign.  It was turned into a shack sitting next to the high school football field. Do they still have brothels?? I stopped in the Dairy Queen and the workers were a whole mix of town personality. The teller guy was goth. Black hair, clothes, everthing. His buddy cooking the burgers was still in his camo-gear.  I’m guessing he was hunting before work.  The lady manager said hi while digging through a box of spare parts to “fix the speaker”.  “Is this for real?” I thought.  Then the teller said, “Sorry, we only take cash.”.  Yep, it’s real.

I arrived at the Ambassador Hotel in Amarillo half shaven, with a shirt I paint in, swim trunks and flip flops expecting it to be an upscale motel.  I could kick the cockroaches off the bed and hunker down. Nope.  Mercedes, Escalades… it was the Ritz.  I entered the hotel and I had to laugh silently in surrender.  There was an “art event” around the corner with people dressed up everywhere.  I stood out. The man checking in was in slacks, shirt tucked in, and the woman looked like she just spent hours getting her hair to freeze perfectly.  The man turned around and was speechless.  I actually apologized.  Quickly reminding myself nobody knows me here, I went to my room, took a shower and shaved.

Day 1 and 2 : I found my way to the Amarillo Art Institute and “Spunky”, the Art Institute director (very cool lady!)  met me. She showed me around, introduced me to some folks and made me feel at home.  Josh Sorenson met me and we started talking art right away.  He’s right at the point where he’s breaking in to his own style, so he paints every day, passionate about what he does.  It turned out I was his only student, but he still did the workshop! Thanks Josh! He did a demo and explained the process he goes through when painting and design element that will help me.  I still see triangles in composition now, thanks Josh! I also met Kirk Richards (master portrait painter) and visited his studio.  Hopefully we’ll get out to paint at Palo Duro, a favorite spot to paint.

Day2 (Tuesday): I started with my first oil painting from a iPhone pic of “Cody”. Oil is going to take some getting used to, especially when I get to landscapes.  I can see definite color intensity though! Nice.

My uncle’s dog, Cody

The oil painting

Day3 and4: Today Dallas, a woman from Oklahoma joined us. I mentioned the small towns that I saw as I drove up and it turns out she’s originally from Hooker, TX (thus the Hooker sign earlier).  She also pointed out the highschool baseball team was called the ” Hooker Horny Toads”.  Awesome.  I finished a couple details on Cody and then started a scene taken (iPhone) at Pedernales (Austin, TX).  I found out oil landscape are pretty stinkin hard!  Dallas and I headed to get some mexican food.  The size of the taco salad was huge!

Day 5: I went to Palo Duro Canyon for a few day to try my hand at backpack-painting and mountain bike-painting.  It’s amazing.  There’s no way to attempt describing all of the colors. My plan was to produce a series of trail sketches and write down the location and time so others can find the scene, sort of a geo-cache painting thing.

Fortress Cliff camping area at Palo Duro Canyon (and the scene for my first trail sketch)

First day of camping I hiked on the trails with Spunky (~10miles) and we found spots that would be good to paint. Yeah, that’s “candy corn”, right Spunky? (inside joke, sorry).

Hiking to the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon
Trying to figure out all the morning colors at the light changed was my goal for this quick sketch. Fortress Cliff 9:30-10:30am 9/16/12
Palo Duro Canyon entrance view.
Palo Duro Entrance View: go about 1/4 mi, park on the side of the road and take the trail to the overlook. 11:30-1:37 9/16/12

Later I took the Rojo Grande Trail and a found a scene were the sun angle put the cliff in the shade (a red-brown-purple) and a small yellow-green tree was lit up brightly. That dirt is SO RED!!!

Rojo Grande Trail scene… it was so contrasty and full of colors that my iPhone camera through a fit. Best pic I had.
The dirt really is this red!!
Rojo Grande Trail 3:30-4:55pm 9/16/12. Go just off the trail 100 yrd from the lighthouse trail entrance. Look right. See if you can find this scene!

Next morning I went mountian bike-painting and forgot my red paint. What now?  The dirt was so red, I took very little white and mixed dirt in it!  Any red you see in the trail sketch is dirt stains!

Capitol Mountain Bike Trail scene in morning
Capitol Mountain Bike Trail scene about a mile in from lighthouse trail parking lot. 9:30-10:30am 9/17/12.  You’ll know it when you get there! Go find it!

I met Spunky for a quick lunch in Canyon, TX and then took a route through Abilene and Lubbock home.  Three subject summary: cotton fields, Edwards Plateus, windmill farms… it’s a great area to see.