The Narrows

The Narrows is one of the ultimate hikes in Zion, if not all the 59 National Parks. In this hike, there is no trail, the Virgin River is your trail. You spent much of the time hiking in water with cliffs rising up to neck-aching heights. This is best exemplified in a part of the Narrows called Wall Street, where the width of the Narrows narrows to 30 feet across. It is in this part of the Narrows that I worked on two sketches.

Sketching with watercolor in the Narrows is problematic because you are constantly wet and you have to protect your sketchbook and paints from the river, in my case I used two, two gallon zip lock plastic bags. Also because of the dampness and the lack of direct sunlight in Wall Street, paintings dry at a glacial pace.

For the feature sketch I went out on a wire, without a net. Yes I sketched in pen and not pencil. I used a combination of Staedtler Lumocolor pens, both permanent and non-permanent. I used the non-permanent as a dark wash in the river. I wanted to keep this sketch monochrome and focus on the shapes and rock forms of the Virgin.


A boy and his toys, The Narrows.

I had the feeling that a photograph or sketch cannot truly capture the experience of being in the Narrows and sometimes it pays to put down your camera, put down your brush and sketch book, and just take in the world around you and be in the moment. The dipper floating downriver taught me that lesson.


Taking in Wall Street while letting my water logged feet dry out.


In the Narrows I found a good rock perch and sketched Floating Rock in  Wall Street. As when I’m near any water, I used the Virgin River to add water to my watercolor sketch.

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