Artist Anne Laddon and her husband, Jim Irving, on the Colorado River

California artist Anne Laddon joined 15 other people for a 24-day rafting trip down the Colorado River during which she created about two dozen large oil paintings and small pastel paintings. “It required a lot of preparation and effort, but the views were unbelievably inspiring and they helped me make significant strides in my work,” she says.

Laddon working along the river with her pastels

Anne Laddon, her husband, Jim Irving, and two dozen other experienced people floated on six rafts down the Colorado River starting on September 26, 2012. “We wanted to go after the motor rigs were no longer permitted on the Colorado because we wanted a quiet, oar-powered trip,” she explains. “I was willing to be responsible for the food so long as I had plenty of time to paint. I packed about two dozen 12″ x 24″ and 12″ x 16″ RayMar panels, a Guerilla Box wet-canvas carrying case, oil paints and solvents, and pastel painting supplies. Everything had to go into watertight bags in case we capsized going down the rapids.”

“Sunlight Dusts the Cottonwoods at Havasu,” a plein air pastel by Anne Laddon

“Days End, South Canyon,” one of the large oil paintings Laddon created during the rafting trip

Laddon goes on, “The entire experience was fantastic. It’s not a trip for the inexperienced or fainthearted, but the views made all the work and tight conditions worthwhile. One of the best things to come out of the trip was the pressure of having to simplify and paint quickly. I did some new plein air pieces after returning to my studio in Paso Robles, California, that I think are some of my best.” For more information, visit


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here