While going to Yosemite Village on a “get presents for people back home” run (also known as “buy all the magnets and salt water taffy in sight”), we happened by the Yosemite Art Center. The sign out front said something about art classes and I immediately thought if I was painting all day it meant I was not hiking all day. Hmm, where do I sign up? Kidding, kidding… but seriously to sign up I just went inside and talked to the staff. Classes there range from $10-$20, which is pretty reasonable.
The next day, I biked over with all of my drawing/painting brushes and pencils. A couple things I forgot (which the Art Center graciously provided) was tape (for outside edges), water container (to wash brushes), and a drawing board. Yosemite Art Center also has art supplies so you can buy paper and brushes if you want to. I bought a very basic watercolor set from them last year and I actually really like it for traveling purposes. A lot of the students had easels with them so I felt a little underdressed but what if we had to hike somewhere? Also, I just didn’t bring one to Yosemite. The students in the class were Yosemite visitors like me, as well as people who worked there (there was one ranger!). Some people knew how to paint, some people didn’t. Anyway, my point is it wasn’t intimidating like I thought it was going to be and the teacher (Geri Medway) was so nice! She took us to this beautiful meadow with fantastic views and walked us through her process of working with watercolor. While she worked, some students asked her questions and some went to start on their own works right away – the atmosphere was very relaxed. I think sometimes it’s very scary to start drawing something on white paper and it helped to see Geri’s decisions and approach. I was instantly attracted to the purple mountains (mountains can be purple! what!) and her fearless use of color.
Drawing or painting outdoors can be challenging because you’re dealing with the weather, you might not have everything you need, and you need be conscious of you environment. I worked on two scenes during the class and Geri stopped by with feedback as well, which was super helpful. The class ran from 10 -2 and by 1:30 I was a bit frozen from the wind so I left a little early. After class, I went back to Housekeeping Camp and worked on a couple more drawings before the light went out. I would definitely recommend stopping by the Yosemite Art Center if you’re visiting and take a class from a visiting artist – it’s a lot of fun and you might learn something! I feel like this way my favorite part of visiting Yosemite!
You can see my finished paintings here: http://orlovie.com/yosemite-in-watercolor/
Thank you for reading!