Grand Canyon Inspiration

I recently returned from a backpacking trip to Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Describing my trip as “inspiring” does not do it justice, but its the best I could come up with! The Grand Canyon is an incredible place that almost seems entirely untouched by humanity. For seven days and six nights, I hiked through the most desolate, remote and impossibly beautiful places. If you’d like to see another planet, but can’t afford the ticket aboard a space shuttle, I suggest going to the Grand Canyon instead. It was bizarre, enchanting and dangerous all at the same time.

I had originally planned to bring along my full plein air painting kit to make some on location work, but in the end the strenuous nature of the trip and weight restrictions forced me to leave it at home. I sketched instead, and took lots of photos to make some work back in the studio from.

Here are a few of the highlights and my favorite sketches.

Sketching my first view of the Colorado River up close. Photo by Alex Nitta.


At the canyon’s rim, ready for adventure! Left to right: Alex Nitta, myself and Willie Rusert. Photo by Alex Nitta.


Photo by Alex Nitta.


We walked for miles with no sight of water, and then see this: a geyser of water, bursting straight out of the canyon’s walls, named “Thunder River.” Simply marvelous. Photo by Alex Nitta.


“Kanab Creek.” Water became a wondrous thing in the desert.


“Colorado River.” One of my longer sketches that I’m pretty happy with.


A quick sketch at yet another magnificent desert oasis, “Deer Creek Falls.”


Once we hiked down to the Colorado River, the landscape completely changed. Now we were on a riverbank, mostly rocks that alternated with occasional sandy beaches. Rafters would pass us by – and occasionally would give the amazing gift of cold beer!


Sometimes, a spring on an overhanging ledge would drip water down to the canyon floor below. All sorts of ferns and plant life spring up from these oases.


“Branches.” A quicker study of some wiry willows growing out of a creek bed that I rather like.


Photo by Alex Nitta.

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