Prayer Rock over the years

I'm crazy about painting rock formations, cliffs and mountains.  Prayer Rock is a facinating formation for several reasons and the Mormon Canal building story is just one of them.  It faces south, generally, and the sunlight and shadows are always dramatic (even when the sun is behind the clouds).

A bunch of years ago, accompanied by my daughter Heather, we took our paint boxes and each of us had a 24 x 30 canvas and we stood on the canal bank and painted Prayer Rock from this angle looking east.  The bottom picture is my location sketch (that's what us "painters" call a painting done on location; the more artsy people call them "plein aire" paintings).  Heather Hopkinson Nielsen's painting turned out well also.

The top painting is a 30 x 40 painting completed in my studio from the location sketch.  The painting sat in my studio for a period of time.  As I was reading journals of pioneers and some family history it occurred to me that my wife Pamela's great grandfather John Cozzens who was an original 1900 Byron Pioneer, crossed the plains as an 18 year old in 1856 pulling one of those handcarts.  He and his cousin Martha were in the third handcart company under the direction of a Brother Bunker.  They started out few days earlier than the Martin and Willey handcart companies and missed being part of  those companies that were stranded on South Pass Wyoming losing over 200 lives.  

So, the story I'm sticking to as to why I painted handcart Pioneers in front of Prayer Rock in Northern Wyoming, 250 miles from where the actual events happened was to honor those people who sacrificed so much to bring us to where we are...that, and also to make an exciting painting.