Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yosemite Chapel

Anyone who has visited Yosemite National Park in California is likely familiar with its countless waterfalls, the famous granite walls of El Capitan and Half Dome, and the ancient giant Sequoia trees. A pioneer landmark of which you may not have heard is the Yosemite Valley Chapel. Built in 1879, the chapel is the oldest structure in Yosemite Valley, and gained recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. With its incredible past and awesome location, it has attracted a steady stream of visitors for many years.

Four weeks ago, today, a young Minnesota couple said their wedding vows in the Yosemite Valley Chapel and began married life together.

It was the wedding of Abe and Rachel, good friends of my son and his girlfriend, which led me to do an oil painting of the chapel. They wanted a unique gift for their friends, and asked if I would be interested in painting the chapel so they could buy a framed print to give as a wedding gift.

With little time or opportunity to visit and research before I needed to begin painting, I was concerned about getting a technically accurate picture of the chapel as it might look on an early summer day. There were a few photos of the general area in my files that helped to plan the look and colors of the trees, grass and sky; and I found pictures of the chapel on the Internet, at the official Yosemite Chapel website and at several photo-sharing sites. Most of those were taken from different views and in other seasons of the year. My challenge was to make a composition that was representative of the scene and as accurate as possible, without using the ideas of or infringing on the copyrights of other artists and photographers.

Working from several views of the chapel and the surrounding hills and trees, I composed a scene that clearly depicts it as a special place. The cedar colored chapel and steeple, the serene setting, the pines trees in front and the large tree on the side of the chapel are accurate, yet I took some liberties with Half Dome. It is visible from the chapel area but it doesn’t loom over the scene quite as I painted it. Nevertheless, the painting is immediately believable and representative of the day. That was my main goal, and I have heard that the newlyweds are thrilled with their gift. What can make an artist happier?

My final brush strokes on each painting are always my signature, and a bible verse notation chosen especially for the piece. For Yosemite Chapel, I selected Colossians 3:12-17, scripture that I think speaks not only to newlyweds, but also to all of us.

Best wishes, Abe and Rachel, for a long and happy life together!

[Editor’s note: Yosemite Valley Chapel is for sale on Dennis’ website (the original, as well as giclĂ©e prints). Click here, scroll to the picture of it, and click on the image for more information.]


Mary Ann Wachholz said...

Wow - yet another marvelous painting. And to make it even better, I'm currently listening to Daniel O'Donnell on PBS and he was singing "Whispering Hope" - I thought rather appropriate!
Congratulations Dennis - it's beautiful! I'm sure it will be treasured forever.

John Nampion said...

Reminds me of the beautiful scenery at the Cokato Mini-Grill and RV park...except for the mountain part...which reminds me of this painting of Yosemite? I didn't catch that part.

Regardless, you are an awesome and ambitious artist, Dennis. Will you be releasing this in a paint-by-numbers format for untalented people like myself?



CousinK said...

Well done, Dennis! You MUST get there yourself. Hope it's a time when the waterfalls are flowing freely and not a time of drought. I believe I have mentioned before that Yosemite is my absolute favorite place. Read about John Muir's time there. What a beautiful place for a wedding. May the lucky couple have many happy years ahead!

whistler said...

beautiful picture uncle!

whistler said...

paint by numbers....really??

Tonia said...

Abe and Rachel LOVED it. It was really special to be able to give it to them and see their reaction. Thank you for creating such a beautiful and meaningful piece. I am sure they will be passing that down to their children.

Laura said...

I love it! Now I want one of Lutsen! :)

Jamie said...

That is a great painting...what a great idea!