Sunday, February 15, 2009


On Friday, Michael Johnson invited me to tag along with his workshop group as they were going to tackle Sugarloaf Mountain. Michael runs a "Mentoring" workshop where he paints with his students and offers help as needed. See his web page for more details. The students stay with Michael and they share meals together. So, there is time for critiques and general art discussion. There is also plenty of free time for them to enjoy the area on their own.

Michael was working in pastel that morning, so I mainly watched to see how he did things. He had a sheet of pastel paper taped to a panel with a sheet of glassene taped to it so it could cover his work. He used a 5x7 matte to trace on his sheet and then taped that off. We were looking at the shaded side of the mountain and the light was changing very quickly. He did a quick sketch to get the correct lights and darks and then had to work quickly to get things blocked in. Within an hour, he had a pretty complete work that he could finish in his studio or use as a study at a later date. (See Left)

After a while, I set up and blocked in a small oil painting which I am working on now.

He then demo'd the use of a pallette knife to do a small work. Ann Gorbett would have loved it. I did. It looked great. (See Right) He worked very quickly and layered in lots of paint. I promised myself I'd go out and pick up a pallette knife or two.

Thanks for including me, Michael.

Saturday morning, Judy and I decided to climb Sugarloaf. It is a fairly easy trail of only about a mile but it gets a little more difficult as you get towards the top. Judy got a phone call from her friend Lisa while on the trail. I tried to take a photo of how technology can keep up with us anywhere, but technology failed me. My camera battery was dead. I got that "I told you so." look from Judy as we both knew that I had a freshly charged backup battery on the table back at the ranch. Once you get to the top it is really worth it. I'll get some photos at a later date.

Later on Saturday, we drove to Camp Verde, about 40 miles away, for their Wine, Pecan and Antique festival. It was pretty folksy and I'm glad I went. It was held in the Community Center with local bands playing in some of the other town buildings. The admission got you into the antique fair and 6 "tastings" (plus a souvenir glass). We, mostly me, were able to taste a number of wines from Arizona. They weren't bad, but we didn't buy any. They were fairly expensive, $20-$35. Judy wanted to buy a pecan pie but we saw that they were being sold by the local super market, Bashas, so we took a pass. (We did manage to eat one slice, though)

But, Camp Verde is the site of a military camp dating from the 1870's. For $3 each, we toured the buildings and talked to one of the guides who gave us a demo of loading and firing a replica of a Civil War rifle. A "fast" soldier could load and fire 3 times in a minute. They had to rip open a cartridge with their teeth (teeth was one of the few requirements of soldiers), pour the powder down the barrel, jam the torn paper down and then put in the ball and finally, replace the firing pin to ignite it. He said they found a rifle at Gettysburg with 20 rounds jammed into the barrel.
They figured the soldier was too nervous and forgot to replace the firing pin. He just kept jamming more ammo in his rifle. The rifle would have exploded if he had fired it.

They also had some precision horsemanship drills performed by the Buffalo Soldiers brigade of Arizona. It was pretty impressive to get those horses to act in unison like that. All in all a pretty good couple of days.


  1. All in all it sounds like a fun and productive weekend. Liked seeing what you worked on. Do you have pix of Camp Verde to see elsewhere?

  2. Hi Linda,
    First, those were pictures of Michael's work, not mine. I'll put some stuff up soon.

    We have a few more pix of Camp Verde, but not much different than what you see.


  3. I am soooo jealous of the palette knife demo. It came out great. When I look at it blown up, it has nice detail. Can't wait to see your Sedona palette knife work, Tony.

  4. Tony, you need to drive Judy down to the Rock Springs Cafe in Black Canyon City, just below the switchbacks when we went to Bumble Bee. People drive from all over to get their pies. We haven't tried, but they sure look good. Plus there's a saloon next door, so you can grab a Bud while Judy gets her pie fix!
    See you in a few days!