Zion National Park Painting Trip

Zion National Park Painting Trip

Armand Cabrera
I had a great time painting in Zion National park during the week of April 18th to 25th. One of the crown jewels of the National Park System, Zion is in southern Utah. The spring weather was beautiful with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s for the week.


The occasion for my visit was an invitational paint out that was part of the 100th anniversary of the park. 22 artists from around the country were invited. I enjoyed spending time with my artist friends and meeting new artists.
The show was called ‘In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran’. All the artists were allowed to paint in the same areas that Moran had painted in in 1873. The views were chosen from his sketchbook and it was interesting to see how much the Virgin River and time had changed the topography of the sites.

There was a wet painting sale on Friday at the Bingham Gallery in Mt Carmel and an auction Saturday at the Zion lodge.



For a trip like this I had to send all my equipment and frames ahead of time. I decided to paint everything 11×14 for the show, making my packing easier.

I boxed up the frames with the blank canvas boards attached in them with offset clips and screws. All the hardware and hanging wires were setup as horizontal paintings. This allowed me to change my mind and make a verticle if I needed to and still have enough wire to hang it.

My paints and gear were also boxed and shipped ahead of my arrival.
By doing this I was able to only have a carry on bag and camera on the flight, saving me time in the airport.

7 thoughts on “Zion National Park Painting Trip

  1. Beautiful! I just returned from SG. Painted in snow canyon. Tried to paint in Zion but realized I didn’t pack any panels! I also saw the paintings in the museum in celebration of Zion’s 100th! Beautiful works.

  2. I went outdoors to paint yesterday for the first time and I had trouble rendering trees. Particularly, branches. Is there some advice that you could give me in regards to what to aim for while I’m out there. I want to make the most of my time as well as get the best result.
    I also have a problem renering tree trunk and branch shadows on the ground I end up smearing them and it’s not long before I have mud.
    Any suggestions?

  3. Gregory,

    Lock in the shadows in the begining of the painting. I define their outside shape and paint the smaller light spots within over the initial shadow shape.
    Rendering trees you will want to look for the character of the particular tree; some are tall some are squat. Each one will have something unique to its individual character.This should be immediately apparent when you look at it.
    Again, paint the flat poster shape of its outline first using its average tone and color and then define its volume by painting its light and dark areas within the overall shape. Branches should be massed together and averaged except where they help define the character. Save sky holes for last.
    When you have groups of trees paint the average tone of the group as a shape and then refine the information by painting smaller color and value changes within the larger shape.

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE ADVICE. I plan to go out again next weekend. I’ll look for a scene that allows me to work out your advice.
    Thanks again.

  5. Armand:

    It was great painting with you at the “Footsteps of Thomas Moran” paint-out. You are truly an amazing painter. Your website is very helpful as is your blog. Look forward to seeing you again soon. Roland Lee

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