The scale alone is impressive!
What I missed in plein air time I made up for in art viewing. Hanging on the walls of the famous Ahwahnee hotel is a collection of gorgeous Gunnar Widforss watercolors that are worth checking out, along with the collections of Native American baskets, stained glass windows and hanging textiles.
The Ansel Adams Gallery on the Yosemite grounds is really more of a store but underneath large prints of his work hanging on the walls, beautiful books, prints and postcards of his work can be bought there.
I think my favorite art viewing place in all of Yosemite was a small gallery that contained a collection of paintings by 19th and 20th century artists who painted around the valley floor after the landscape was designated as protected by Abraham Lincoln.
Below is a painting, "Yosemite Valley, Winter" by William Keith (1838-1911) that I looked at for some time. I am always amazed at how little detail an artist can get away with and still create a landscape that says everything it needs to. It also made me really want to visit the valley floor in snowy winter!
The brushy strokes of the trees are so simple. I've painted tons of trees and I have yet to achieve the gesture of one that is as effective as these trees in this snowy landscape.
Careful gestures of the figures and horses - not too much over modeling.
On a plaque next to this Thomas Moran painting (below) was this description:
Thomas Moran joined the Hayden Expedition to Yellowstone and traveled at his own expense to record the landscapes along their route. His paintings and the photographs of William Jackson were used to persuade Congress to protect Yellowstone, much as Carleton Watkins' Yosemite photographs had been used in 1864. He continued to interpret western landscapes - including Yosemite and the Grand Canyon - throughout his life, often on a grand scale. His daughter donated many of his works to the Yosemite Park after his death, and these pieces are now part of the collection of several national parks.
This Andreas Roth (1872 - 1949) painting impressed me up close when I looked at his brush work. "Inspiration Point, 1933.
Again, groupings of trees painted with simple masses. I love the negative painting in the shadow areas that create the look of tree trunks too. You see that a lot in watercolor but I've not seen it in oils very often.
I love the washy transparent masses of trees in the distance against the more opaque foreground tree. Works so well.
The watercolors of Gunnar Widforss (1879-1934) are always amazing to me for just the technique alone. The description says they were painted on pebble mat board. It seems the focus of Widforss' work was texture of things like trees, plants, rocks, almost pattern like in their treatment. "Halfdome in Autumn", 1923
Frederick Schafer (1839-1927), "Morning in Yosemite Valley, Cal.", 1887
At first this Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) painting, below, appeared to both my dad and I a bit overly dramatic, but when I looked at it further I began to appreciate the masterful vignettes within the larger painting. "Night at the Valley View", 1864
When we went up to Mammoth we stayed at a little cabin that had a nice porch area. On a few showery days my nephews and I sat out on the porch drawing and painting in our sketchbooks. What a cool experience to spend in sketching sessions with your own family. Nothing could be more fun!