We plan to occasionally feature a painting location that is especially loved by a plein air artist in an effort to introduce new ideas and areas for readers to consider in their painting adventures. In this issue of PleinAir Today, we talk with Jack Sorenson, an oil painter in Texas, about his favorite spot to paint. Hint: Famed cattleman Charles Goodnight once had a ranch there.
“Parched,” by Jack Sorenson, 2011, oil. Private collection
Sorenson and his painting group, the Plein Air Painters of Palo Duro Canyon, meet on the first Monday of every month, year round, at the entrance to Palo Duro State Park, in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo. They gather there and are ready when the gates open in the morning, and they paint until lunchtime. “There’s a place down there in the bottom of the canyon that has the best hamburgers, so we joke that we paint there just to eat the hamburgers,” Sorenson says. “There’s no leader and no teaching. Some stay and paint another painting in the afternoon.”
Jack Sorenson painting in the Palo Duro Canyon on April 1
“Prairie Dog Fork,” by Jack Sorenson, 2012, oil. Private collection
Sorenson grew up in the area; his dad owned a dude ranch and Jack worked on it. “It’s a beautiful canyon,” he avers. “I’m totally biased because I grew up here, but I think it’s the prettiest.
“There’s constant water and shelter from the winter and the wind. There’s always a side canyon where you can get out of the wind — the wind is a major factor. It’s the ideal situation to paint — or to ranch, because you don’t have to have a fence on the sides to keep the cattle in. Back in the 1930s there was a group of painters who painted it regularly; they met for years and painted down there in the canyon. We kind of stole their name and continued the tradition, 80 years later.”
“Prickly Pear,” by Jack Sorenson, 2011, oil. Private collection
Sorenson says the number of painters from the group who show up varies, with as many as 18 painting the canyon in nice weather. They’ve been gathering for more than three years, and Sorenson estimates that he’s painted at least 60 pictures of the Palo Duro over the years.
“Autumn Under Sorenson Point,” by Jack Sorenson, 2012, oil. Private collection
Do you have a favorite place to paint? Share it with us! E-mail the editor of this e-newsletter with pictures of the painting spot and your paintings done on location, and we’ll feature at least one a month in PleinAir Today.