Sunday, February 3, 2019



On the first morning at Lees Ferry on the Colorado. Erica and John packing up the oar boats and setting in the rigging, boxes, containers, gear and other junk. Our expedition company was Arizona River Runners. Wonderful company, great guides, delicious food and an amazing experience. Take a look through the photos and artwork folks.

Last steps before casting off from Lees Ferry. Supply boat on the, bags,"grovers", pad, stoves, grills, etc...everything you need for a two week/250 mile journey. My gear included 25 pounds (individual weight limit) - clothes, a toothbrush, sketchbooks, drawing & painting gear.

The first few miles were calm and tranquil with gave us time to get to know each other as well as our guide Tom.

I drew throughout the trip in a little 3X5" sketchbook. All these pencil scribbles I used as a diary of the experience. Its an education learning the techniques of notating specific landscapes, geology, even the boats and gear and getting it "right" on the page to remember the experience. Click on the images and all the drawings get larger and are easier to see details.

Lining up for the first "rapid" at Badger Creek, Tom at the oars. Some shaky sketching going on here. Getting use to the boats movement, composing and portrait drawing all the same time. The perspective and figures got laid out first, figures second with the faces a focal point. 

Drifting through slow current as we drift past Navajo Bridge

Lunch on our first day after the morning shakedown cruise. 

Tom taking us through one of the first "big" rapids at Badger Creek. Rated at a 5 and a 12 foot drop. Doesn't sound like much but when you are in the middle of it, its a whole different story.

Having just gone through the thrill of a nice rapid I took the time as we waited in a swirling eddy to sketch one of the boats come whipping through the waves which almost swallowed Jimmy's boat.  

Watching the crews go down the previous rapids gave me the practice to sketch out the shapes, patterns and rhythm of the rushing water overwhelming the oar boat catching the split-second action of the people & whitewater adds to the story. I add the boiling spray later in camp

First camp at Jackass at the end of badger Rapids. All the oar boats are lined up on shore. Dave, Erika, Kyle and Cassie relaxing after we all unloaded gear (a shared activity) and then set up camp and kitchen

Tom delivering his H20 sermon in the morning. Sermonizing about the River, its sources, and its sacred elements over the watery path we would take.

In the early morning we would bundle up to the cold and the chilly water. You wear the life vest over your clothes so if got caught in a rapid the jacket wouldn't fill up with water and drown you. The water was mysteriously beautiful with swirling green-blue eddies of swirling waters

Kyle rowing past Tenmile Rock. By now I was studying all the geology, rafting gear, water reflections and gestures of the guides and how they rowed to get it all right in my drawings

Tom working the oars down a calm section of water. At these times I would hang over the side of the raft and sketch the interlocking patterns of ripples and reflections of the red vertical rock walls 

Lining up the run at Soap Creek rapids. The trick is to read the "tongue" of the river and make sure you don't drop into the "hole", usually water rushing around giant boulders and creating an empty watery void a boat can flip in.

To be able to spend the sunrise breaking camp and setting off to float slowly through billions of years of geology and color was not only beautiful but also spiritual reflective being so removed from everything except the landscape and 24 new friends

Slowly meandering down Marble Canyon and watching the morning light play off the sandstone boulders and walls as we drift past Tanner Wash 

Funky, jumbled little pencil sketch of the stacks of sandstone dinner plates and ledges 15+ miles down the Colorado. This might be Boulder Narrows

Tom working through riffles and calm sections in Marble Canyon

Calm section of water watching the eddies bubbling and boiling up from the rivers depths. The warm orange lights bounce from one wall to the other and light up the whole stone corridor

Pulled up to North Canyon on the second day. Everyone else took off to hike up the canyon and I stayed back to sketch. While I was sitting there I watch these crows strut up and down the beach, squawk loudly then jump on the boats and grab any crumbs they could fight over. A close up portrait of one of the bandits is below

Occasionally we will see other animals like bighorn sheep, condors and deer as well as ringtails field mice.  

Drifting along at about 20 miles -give or take- and the walls are getting higher and steeper. Everyone telling personal stories in-between rapids and long stretches of calm, reflective waters. The occasional desert bighorn and deer would show up at the riverbank. 

Another rafting crew whipping past us as we were camped at Indian Dick Camp. 

My sleeping bag and gear set up as it usually was. Ground cover sheet, a couple of pads from the boats, rolled up jacket for a pillow and comfy sleeping bag. Water bottle, sketching gear and glasses. The rapids gave off a great "white noise" of the water rushing over the boulders and echoing back-and-forth across the canyon walls

An 8 X 22" panorama pencil drawing of the late afternoon light raking across the Grand Canyon walls. You can pick out the namesake "Indian Dick" formation high in the middle of the composition