Great Western Road Trip- Part 1

Big skies, vast landscapes, towering rocks carved by water, wind and time. The American West is a place like no other on the continent. Under the guise of driving our son from a summer internship in Boulder, Colorado, to his senior year of college in Pasadena, California, my family took to the open road last week for a Great Western Road Trip. Along the way, we hiked the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains and explored Arches, Canyonlands and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah. And then we drove out of those untamed spaces and into the sprawl of freeways in southern California before flying back east.

In the words of John James Audubon, “I wish I could draw it all.” Alas, with so much hiking and driving, it was hard to find the time; I still have several pages to finish. So here is part one. Stay tuned for the next installment with my top tips for travel sketching.


23 Comments on “Great Western Road Trip- Part 1

  1. You captured the Western landscape beautifully. I really like the technique on page three of peeking through the white rocky tunnel to the view beyond, All so lovely.

    • Thanks Barbara– That technique was a nice time saver, too. I like the window effect, though, as that was the only part of the landscape that was light when we were hiking.

  2. These are fabulous! We’ve been lucky to have visited all these parks, but I could never replicate them the way you have. Thank you for sharing this gift 🙂

    • Thanks Denise– It’s hard to really capture the vastness of these parks, but I’m so glad I had the chance to be out in it and sketch along the way. I’m glad you’ve had a chance to experience them too!

  3. So beautiful! I’ve only set foot in the west one time many years ago. Some day I’ll visit these places. Until then I have your beautiful depictions to enjoy. Thanx for sharing.

  4. Thank you for sharing your journey. Your sketches/paintings are wonderful and bring back some great memories of my 2 week trip through the southwest. Your work makes me want to do it again. And this time try to sketch/paint along the way instead of taking so many photos.

  5. Love them all Jean. The rock formations and the beautiful colors are very inviting!
    Can’t wait to get out there myself. Loved the map!

  6. I’m right behind you Jean. Don and I are on a petroglyphs hunt in Utah this week and we were in arches today and green river Utah tonight . Your drawings are such an inspiration, as always! Plus we are still talking about our fabulous time on hog island!

    • How fantastic!! We saw petroglyphs at Arches and “Newspaper Rock” just outside of Canyonlands (The Needles section). Wished we could have hiked all the way in to see the large ones in Canyonlands. Have a wonderful journey— and DO sketch a bit on the way!

  7. Truly beautiful pages, and a wonderful documentation of a family journey. I remember those rock formations well. Such strange and beautiful landscapes. Thanks for sharing them Jean.

    • I thought of you out there, Shari, because I remember some of your Southwest paintings. I knew I would be challenged by such big landscapes and I tried to remind myself to go for the big shapes first. The paint dried so fast- I couldn’t keep my palette wet in that dry heat! Still, what a great place to be painting and experiencing!

  8. You’re SO good at simplifying! You continue to inspire me always.

    • Hi Melissa- Simplifying is such a challenge. I appreciate your compliment, since I still struggle to turn off the details when I’m looking at a big landscape. Best to you!

  9. Pingback: 8 Tips for Travel Sketching | Drawn In

  10. What a perfect excuse for a fabulous itinerary! It sounds really wonderful, but I bet it all went by too fast. It is impressive that someone who has such a strong feeling for flowers and birds can sketch rocks so convincingly. The Devil’s Garden painting is beautiful!

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