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Sunday, May 15, 2016


On the heels of an overdone bike ride up Camp Bird, the legs felt like a couple of celery sticks yesterday. Not the fresh, crisp kind in the produce section, but more the rubberized year old shit hiding at the bottom of the fridge's veggie drawer... the one's you could tie into a noose and hang yourself with. A nice crawl around town was in order... slow and easy, like smooth jazz.

I grabbed my pack and both cameras and hiked Lovely Ouray's Perimeter Trail, jumping off (literally) at Portland Creek, where it carves through the groovy "Baby Bathtub" section. The camera objective was simple: play with light, shadow, and water as it flows over colorful jewel-speckled gravel. No, I did not carry a tripod as one should when photographing moving water, as I had neither stomach nor legs for it.

I love the color of the "tubs" and "chutes" on Portland. It glows pink and lavender in cloud-diffused sunlight, while gravel glitters with hues from rest of the color wheel

I hiked downstream, accompanied by a symphony of "white noise," pulled up a rock at a precipice where Portland Creek's effervescent water tumbled as falls. It reminded me of the time Bobbie and I were near Santa Fe, checking out a "retreat" whose mission it was to strip away all the accumulated layers of stress, one by one. People, they claimed, are like fine pieces of furniture. With time and for reasons aplenty, we get covered over with layer upon layer of "grit and grime" until, finally, there's no alternative but to start painting (makeup), adding more layers and further insulating us from who we really are or want to be. Anyway, the "stripping" was accomplished by using senses, like touch (deep massages), smell (aromatherapy), sight (darkened rooms), and so on. They had individual wraparound chairs for sound therapy, full of speakers that played "white noise," which sounded to me a lot like static. Hm, I had white noise in the form of a gushing stream, aroma therapy in the form of pine trees. All that was missing was a little "touch."

Then back through town... 

Nothing like ruby red doors to make a historical building pop.

And speaking of "PoP," here's a recent attempt at a watercolor. Browning points if can you guess where? 

Right, Bryce Canyon... from a photo taken when Jim, Gayle, Debbie, and Bobbie and I snuck in the back door for free via the Tropic entry. :) It's unsigned because it didn't live up to my (anal) expectations. But I'm determined to "ride this bike" again, so maybe next time. Still, painting does remind me of a great day with friends, sneaking in "back doors" and moving through super-freak hoo doos that tend to blow your mind.
Peace Out Side,


  1. A real artist once told me to always date my art and save it. I sometimes date it on the back. By dating the work you can go back to it as you learn more and do more learning from things you likely did not notice the first time. For me at least that has been painfully accurate.

  2. Yes, that day we "snuck" into Bryce was a good one, and I like your painting. The sky looks too blue and the rocks look too red, just as in real life.

  3. No reason to hang yourself in rubberized celery sticks. You painting "pops" right at me. Not bad.

  4. I have yet to see the magnificent red rocks of Utah in person, but hope to soon. We just recently spent our first winter full-timing mostly in Arizona. We hiked some amazing rock canyons and, at times, I was awestruck. But my husband promised to take me to Moab, which he describes as "magical" and I plan to hold him to it. I love Gayle's comment about your painting that "the sky looks too blue and rocks look too red, just like in real life." I can't wait to see just how right she is! (BTW, kudos for venturing out beyond the bike and into the "scary" realm of painting.)

  5. Love all the waterfalls!! The sounds of the rushing water makes such a meditative hike. You didn't need a tripod! Your photos are beautiful:)

    Yes, you captured Bryce in all her glory! We just arrived today for our second visit to this area. While we didn't have your blue sky, we did have enough blue sky to make the photos pop.

  6. Your painting is lovely and captures the magical beauty of the hoodoos. I say sign it. :-)

  7. I have a serious question...would you sell it? I'm guessing you won't. But, for a price, I'd be interested in purchasing this "Mark Johnson-The Early Years" watercolor.

    1. Seriously? Since "Bryce" doesn't live up to my expectations It seems "wrong" to sell it. I only sign and sell the ones that meets "minimum essentials" and "work", which in general means makes the eye travel to a focal point... release, move around and circle back. So no, "no sale," but I could probably be talked into giving it away :).
      Thanks, Mark.

  8. Mark,

    Beware of your own aesthetic. This one is one of your best; it has a looseness not seen in others. The composition is tight, but the smoogjiness (sorry for the jargon, I just can't help it) of the colors helps transcend the A.R.ness. I second Laurel's comment.


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