Once again, this year I had the opportunity to go to Yosemite National Park in July for twelve days (see here for my 2016 trip stories and sketches). Four nights, five days of wilderness backpacking followed by seven days six nights of volunteering for Yosemite Conservancy. Below are the images from my backpacking trip.
I used a small, handmade sketchbook using landscape shaped scraps of watercolor paper, painted cardboard box covers, and nylon yarn as binding. My tools were a Pigma Micron 01 pen, a Pigma Sensei 06 pen, Aquash large and medium size water brushes, and my own mini palettes of Daniel Smith watercolors (sixteen total colors). The last three pages I finished coloring when I got to Yosemite Valley on the afternoon of Day Five. The rest I completed on site, in the backcountry. All except the rout map were painted from memory or en plein air, not from photographs.
I also returned to an old favorite format: 6-inch by 6-inch squares, which I brought on my 2014 trip to Yosemite while I was completing work for the 50|50 show, a 50-day process of creating fifty works, all measuring six inches by six inches. I love the small square format, and Fluid Watercolor paper from Global Art Materials, Inc., comes in a great portable block that fits in my front pack in the backcountry. I love the Fluid “Easy Block” because it’s easy to remove finished paintings in the field (a key feature for backcountry sketching). Also, the paper is acid-free and archival, meaning the finished pieces are ready to be mounted or framed.
Stay tuned for images from my Yosemite Valley week…to be posted after I get back from Gettysburg!
Today was finally “Uninstall Day” for my Gettysburg in 2016 installation at Half Moon Bay Library. It had been extended by two weeks, and I was excited to see how FULL the jar of fabric squares was today. Visitors were invited to write their responses to the excerpt from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address presented on a muslin painted panel above them.
And now, my work is to make these squares into a community quilt of our own words, in 2016, resonating with Lincoln’s ideas in the present moment. I have some sewing to do!
“The Unfinished Work” – words excerpted from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
If you’ve followed me on Instagram (@drlisachu), you’ve seen pages from my daily illustrated journal practice called “Before 10am”, which I’ve kept since July 2016…that’s over 150 consecutive days so far! I have kept a written journal for many years of my life, but only recently, in 2013, did I start playing with blank pages of a sketchbook, permitting not only words and sentences to appear on the page, but also colors, lines, shapes, scribbles, collage, and other experimental images. This liberating practice has led me and followed me through the daily routine of home life, to wilderness adventures in several national parks, and everything in between. This one new habit has changed my life by deepening my observations of the world around me, and slowing me down each day to reflect on what I have experienced. It has also given me an object to share with others, and a way of connecting with people around the world via social media.
I just returned from a road trip to Death Valley National Park, where I celebrated my birthday. While there, I learned that “Timbisha” is the Shoshone name for their home (which we call “Death Valley”). The word “Timbisha” refers to the sacred red color of the rocks in the area, and symbolizes the future, or the way forward. As Park Ranger Alexandra, a geographer who led a brief program in one of the colorful canyons in Death Valley, shared various theories on the formation of the canyons, she also said that many of the Shoshone stories of this place are stories she is not allowed to tell. Continue reading →
As a group, we have agreed to meet at Yosemite Lodge (now called “Yosemite Valley Lodge”) for breakfast at eight. We are all up by six thirty, disassembling our tents, folding up our sleeping bags, stuffing things back into our cars. The return to civilization begins. Continue reading →
Day 11: Friday Finale, Milkweed Beetles, & Food Upcycling
Today’s forecasted high is 103 degrees. It is the last day of work for the volunteer crew. Two other times in the past, I’ve participated in the picnic table building, so I remember certain things quite well. The vice grips used by one person to hold the head of a stripped bolt, while a power drill is used by another to unscrew the nut from the other side. Moving wood planks and metal hardware into position, placing nuts and hitting them with the power drills. Recharging the drills. Painting the wood planks. Lifting, flipping, and carrying the finished tables.
This year I don’t do any of that. It’s Randy and the other eleven volunteers who pile into the van each morning and drive over to Lower Pines campground, near the amphitheater, to do this work. Continue reading →
Thursday. I am well aware that I have only this and one more morning in which to get out early enough to sketch and paint before the baking sun begins to saturate the Valley. I’m on my bike by eight o’clock. Sara Midda’s South of France sketchbook pops into my head, with her delicate vignettes depicting details, colors, and memories of every season of the year in southern France. I decide to make vignettes of the smallest details I can find this morning on my bike ride. I’ve been trying to stare at massive granite walls and follow the contours with my eyes and hands. Now I’m going to notice the minutiae. Continue reading →
Wednesday is the volunteers’ day off. In years past, we have spent our Wednesdays doing such ambitious hikes as Mount Dana, Mount Hoffmann, and Four Mile Trail. But two years ago, knowing we had a backpacking trip ahead of us, tacked onto the end of the work week, we decided to take it easy. One of the other volunteers lent us his inflatable raft. We took the shuttle bus all the way to Happy Isles, and found a spot to put in near Sugar Pine bridge. The water was so low we were sitting on rocks for much of the time, but we did manage to make our way all the way to our home base, just past Sentinel Beach.
This year, having already worked hard on our backpacking trip, and with the exceptional heat (today’s high forecast to be 103), we have a very unambitious agenda. We get on our bikes and see if we can catch the ranger program at 9:30. Turns out it is cancelled. We head just beyond the Yosemite Museum to the Yosemite Cemetery. I never knew there was a cemetery until Ranger Karen mentioned yesterday that the only sequoia trees in the Valley are the ones planted around the tombstone of Galen Clark, Yosemite’s first park ranger. Continue reading →