George W. Handrahan – Inside His Head and Heart

Anticipating the upcoming Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational, we hoped to share some inside thoughts and views from a participating artist in the invitational. We had a conversation with George Handrahan about painting plein air in Zion. We were pleased to not only get into his thoughts, but he opened his heart to share his feelings.

George Handrahan_2_edited-1What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to paint plein air in Zion Canyon for several days in early November?

“Zion National Park has some of the most unique and visually interesting rock formations, water features, foliage and atmosphere in the world. To be able to paint with twenty-four truly exceptional and gifted artists for a week in the fall, when leaves and light are at their best, is a landscape painter’s dream come true. I love to paint Zion National Park!”

What is it about the red rock country of southern Utah that draws you as a painter?

“How do you make a rock more interesting? Color it. The same applies to paintings with rocks, they are more interesting when the rocks are more colorful. Red Rock Country is just that – more colorful.”

 Does any particular place in Zion inspire you more than another? Or is there anything particularly inspiring for you in Zion?

“I am drawn to Kolob Canyon, with its open views of spectacular rock formations and trees. I’m also inspired by the Virgin River, in Zion Canyon, with its lazy sweeping bends and brilliant colorful reflections. It’s all so good that it is hard to single out just a few spots, but for me these two have a slight edge on all the places”.

What do you enjoy most about the Zion Plein Air Event, and why?

“I think for me the people are the highlight of this event. I have made friends with many artists, collectors and local art lovers. I enjoy sharing conversations and ideas about art with them. This is what makes the Zion Plein Air Invitational so fun for me”.

What are the challenges and rewards of painting plein air?

“The landscape is constantly changing which makes it challenging to capture the moment. I think most artists would agree with that. The rewarding part of Plein Air Painting for me is when I capture, on canvas, the essence and mood of the scene. Not so much a visual duplication, but instead an emotional response to what I see and feel. That is what it is really all about”.

Other thoughts you’d like to share…

“I am grateful and blessed to be able to do what I do and I truly appreciate the “behind the scenes” people that work so hard, without the recognition they deserve, to make events like this successful. My thanks and appreciation to all of them.”

George Handrahan, a native of Utah, was raised in the rural community of South Weber. It was in this environment where he came to love and appreciate the diverse natural landscape surrounding him, taking every opportunity to spend time out of doors.

His paintings invite the viewer to see, in a unique way, color they might otherwise have missed, to sense a mood frequently ignored, and to share in the beauty of a transient time and place.

Painting: Cloud Burst  – Oil by George Handrahan. Call 435-772-3264 for more information about this painting and other pieces now on exhibit and for sale at the Zion Human History Museum  until November 8, 2015.