Cascade Falls – Rocky Mountain National Park

You Sing to My Spirit, Pastel, 18x24 © Nelia Harper
You Sing to My Spirit, Pastel, 18×24 © Nelia Harper

I left the house just as the sky was beginning to lighten, wound my way up the Thompson Canyon, and bounced my way over the well worn highway to the Wild Basin turnoff in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Moments later several other painters arrived.  After morning greetings and chit chat, we started up the trail with our 30 pound packs to Cascade Falls.  Folks stopped along the way, selecting their spots.  About a mile in, the trail became steep and covered in snow.  We carried on, and the reward was well worth the effort.

A pair of stellar jays was there to greet us and kept us well entertained.

Stellar Jay
One of our stellar companions

Our fearless leader, Margueritte Meier, the coordinator of the Fort Collins Plein Air Artists of Colorado group was smiling and energetic as always as she setup to paint the falls from her rocky overlook.

Margueritte Meier excited to be in such an outstanding location.
Margueritte Meier excited to be in such an outstanding location.

Over the course of the morning hikers walked past, the jays searched for snacks and the water poured over the rocks creating a symphony of color, light and sound.  As we were painting, I was thinking of John Denver’s song, Calypso and the phrase, “You sing to my spirit” and felt that was the perfect title for this piece.  Being in such incredible beauty, standing in a stand of incredible trees and breathing in the scents of moss, pine needles and melting snow seeping into the earth, fills the soul.

Hard at work
The initial block-in of my pastel piece with Andrea Gabel hard at work on her oil painting.

With so many trees and standing next to the water, we were plenty cold and after a couple of hours returned to the parking lot.  Here’s the painting from our outing.  As you can see, there was plenty of snow and water from the spring runoff.

Wild Basin, en plein air, 11x15 pastel
Wild Basin, en plein air, 11×15 pastel

Returning to the parking lot, we had a spontaneous picnic with some of the other painters from our group.

A spontaneous picnic lunch
A spontaneous picnic lunch with Margueritte Meier, Ann and Jenifer Hart Cline

It’s days like this that truly fill my heart and invigorate my soul not only to paint but to appreciate this incredible natural world.  By the way, if you are in Estes Park this month, be sure to check out Jenifer’s show at the Art Center of Estes Park.

And, if you are in Old Town Fort Collins, Peak to Prairie continues through June 30th at the Fort Collins Museum of Art in Suite 207.  If you would like to meet up to see the show, let me know.

“You Sing to My Spirit” is on display at the Peak to Prairie show and is now available.


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