Painting Big Bend National Park, Texas, with the Outdoor Painters Society
“Located way out in southwest Texas, the National Park gets its name from where the Rio Grande takes a ‘big bend’ on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes considered ‘three parks in one’, Big Bend has mountain, desert and river environments. An hours drive can take you from the banks of the Rio Grande to a mountain basin nearly a mile high”.
Be forewarned. Big Bend National Park is big. Really, really BIG! We covered over 200km in one day, just scoping out the painting sites. And we didn’t even go to the state park next door. There’s so much fabulous stuff to paint that you could stay there for years and not paint the same thing twice (unless you wanted to of course).
REMEMBER: If you take your dog, take a shade structure and water with you wherever you go. And don’t forget their booties – there’s lots of spiny things out there!
It got really hot there – we were out painting in 34 + degrees C on some days. Even with factor 70 sunscreen and my face shaded by my hat I still got burnt! It was worth it though. Here are some of my paintings….
On the ‘scoping for painting spots’ day, I had walked down into the dry canyon and found some really beautiful places to paint, so had decided to go back and paint right down at the bottom. So much for best laid plans….On the night before actually going to paint the canyon, there was a HUGE lightning storm (we ended up sitting in the car for 3 hours to avoid getting zapped in our tent). When I went to the canyon the next day, there was a river of water in it. I was standing at the canyon overlook deciding whether it was safe to go down, when 2 rangers came along. They’d come to see the canyon “in flash flood” as they’d never seen it before. I decided to take their advice and stay at the top, as they thought more water could come through. I’ve seen those flash flood movies….
Some of my other paintings
Our painting spots, all worth visiting if you go to Big Bend, included Santa Elena Canyon (interesting lighting in early morning and also as the sun’s going down in the evening); Old Maverick Road (yuccas), Hot Springs (date palms); Chisos Basin (moody mountains and grand vistas); Tuff Canyon (with its interesting and difficult to paint off-white walls); La Jitas Canyon Drive (just outside the park), Homer Wilson Ranch, Grapevine Hills (mushroom-shaped rock piles) and Burro Mesa Pouroff.