Boom & Bust on an Art Road Trip

mixed media bird painting in progress ©Kellie Day
mixed media bird painting in progress ©Kellie Day

A little mixed media bird I started while teaching this workshop

I’ve been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Travel, I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere

– Johnny Cash

Last week I took a road trip to Escalante, Utah, which is in the middle of nowhere. Hours of driving through winding canyon roads and no cell reception, just endless land and red rock. Towns with abandoned buildings, coffee from machines, and only artificial creamer. Sometimes I love it when you just get down to the bare bones in life. (Relatively speaking).

Mixed media gals in Escalante, Utah

Mixed media gals in Escalante, Utah

I was asked to teach a workshop at the Escalante Arts Festival. A student who had taken my E-course had won a prize in their Plein Air Competition, and had suggested they invite me.

We painted mixed media all day while rain plastered the pavement and flushed the slot canyons of logs and rocks and anything water could move. Every black streak on the canyon walls became a waterfall.

Escalante is famous for its amazing slot canyons, which are incredibly picturesque when it’s dry, and incredibly deadly when it rains.

Like wildfire and avalanches, to witness the full power of what Mother Nature is capable of, is both terrifying and magnificent.

The laughter and color and textures of the day faded into the sounds of more torrential rain on the metal roof of my small town hotel room at night. I had experienced this once before, when camping near the Needles, Utah, where the night would come to a complete calm and then in the distance, another storm would move in. And then, the wave of water and hail would hit our tents, staked on tiny patches of raised red earth, and everything around us became a river or a waterfall. After all that, it would come to a complete calm, and then start all over again.

Escalante Utah

2 million acres of glorious hiking in Escalante Utah

“There are two ways to die in the desert. Thirst and drowning.” – Craig Childs

Abandoned buildings line the main street of Green River, Utah

Abandoned buildings line the main street of Green River, Utah

On the way home, I drove through Green River, Utah, in slow motion down the main street, gawking at the number of abandoned buildings. I wondered what it would be like to live here. I remembered staying in a little hotel here, long ago, when I was married. I hadn’t seen my husband in six weeks, he’d been climbing a mountain in Pakistan. A Bob Dylan documentary played on the TV. The whole hotel was filled with oil and gas workers, living there, when the work was good. And the little diner next door had a damn good breakfast.

2 Comments

  1. Audrey Hazen says:

    johnny cash, green river, pakistan ….. i leap with JOY when an email comes to me through you. my spirit rises, sings and dances. you make me more awake. thank you for you, kellie. thank you monke and angela for getting me to you. blessed be.

    • Kellie Day says:

      Right back at you Audrey! We were just talking about how amazing and wise you are , and how much we love you! Thanks for your sweet words. They mean so much.

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