The Art of R. Geoffrey Blackburn

Canyons Paintings

"Canyons of all types, be it red rock sandstone, granite or whatever, have been an enduring feature of my life.  Living mostly in Utah, it couldn't have been otherwise.  As early as 3 1/2 years old my dad used to take me skiing up both Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons.  When I was older I would go up Parleys Canyon (the old 1950 scary road version) in a furniture van full of horses on camping adventures in the Unita Mountains. When I was in my early teens I would go up the various canyons to take ski lessons, hike and fish.  In high school, I was up the canyons for ski training and racing, keg parties, skirt chasing and canoodling.  That's a great word isn't it? Canoodle...I would also have numerous dangerous road races up and down the various canyons in my MGTD in the middle of the night.  My favorite  racing circuit was up Emigration and down Parleys canyons or vice versa.  I had some very hairy experiences, like breaks going out on the way down Big Cottonwood Canyon just above the s-turn on a busy Sunday afternoon... All kinds of wild adventures. When I grew up (more or less) my canyon adventures centered around red rock canyons especially around Moab during my mining days in the 1970's. 

So, it is little wonder that with all this activity centered around canyons, and being of an artistic persuasion, canyons would dominate many of my paintings.  The first of my "official canyon paintings" was Desert Canyons painted in 1974. This painting appeared in the 1974 Deseret News Heritage Art Show in Salt Lake City.  It came to be a desert canyon painting in a rather round-about way: it actually started out as a Sheriff and Posse riding through a forest and was displayed that way in a gallery in Taos way back when.  When it did not sell I got it back and decided that the posse would look more real riding through the desert along the edge of a cliff. So, I began painting in the desert around the riders - but it still didn't look right to me so one by one I painted over the posse until only the sheriff was left.  I didn't like that either, so he too disappeared under a coat of paint and the work became a desert canyon painting.  I eventually traded that painting and two others to a geologist who later became my very dear friend of 40 years and surrogate father Robert R. "Bob Norman, for 4 acres of land in at Kayenta Heights in Moab.  Unfortunately, being the right-brained moron I was, I ended up selling the land for a song and now I have only the memories and the image captured in digital format and reproduced as a serigraph to show for it. The painting was later destroyed in a fire at Bob's house. You live and learn or you don't...

From there, I went on to paint canyons in Zion and Arches National Parks and elsewhere. My ski-racing, road-racing, skirt-chasing and canoodling days are long over but I am sure there are more canyons to paint in my future.  So many canyons, so little time. Oh well, as long as I can hold a brush..."

R. Geoffrey Blackburn


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