FireFall!

What a spectacular display of mother nature!  One of the most amazing natural occurrences is coming up this February in Yosemite National Park.  I have been fortunate to have seen it twice.  There are thousands of pictures of the firefall on the internet, but I have never seen a painting of it. So, fresh off the easel at the Neff Studio...I painted one…

Firefall! , 16×20, oil on canvas

Fire is difficult to paint, and half the reason I painted this is to try my hand at it.  Although it isn’t actual fire, it looks like fiery lava pouring over the side of a cliff.   Here’s a little backstory—

During my adolescent years growing up in Pasadena, CA, we used to make trips to Yosemite National Park, camping in both the valley and the high country. I remember well, while camping in the valley we would shuffle out in the valley to the middle of a meadow to watch the Firefall. It used to be called the parks most famous spectacle where each evening during the summer months, a huge bonfire was built high above the valley at the edge of Glacier Point. At 9pm the glowing coals were pushed over the edge creating a luminous glittering waterfall of fire tumbling some 3200 feet. Here is a picture I gleaned off the internet —

In 1968 due to a variety of reasons, the Firefall was discontinued.

However, today, there is an even more wondrous and totally natural Firefall. Each year for a week or two in February the setting sun beams up the valley and illuminates Horsetail Falls, and when conditions are perfect, it glows orange and red for a brief time. It’s hit and miss because the sky must be relatively clear, and there has to be enough flowing water in the falls. I have been fortunate to see it twice while attending the Yosemite Renassaince opening art reception where my paintings have been shown in the Yosemite Museum.

Of course, I have seen many pictures of it over the years, and always thought the photos had to be enhanced or touched up.  Not so.  The falls  glow a bright yellow/red/orange for about 10 minutes. It was like someone hung a giant glow stick over the edge of the cliff. 

The last year I saw it in 2019, many have said was one of the best.  Due to the heavy snow in Yosemite Valley, we had to work for it a bit more by having to walk over a mile to the best vantage point…but well worth it.  The recent snows added another dimension, and when the wind blew the icy crystals off the shoulder of El Capitan, the entire cliff lit up as if fire in the bowels of the earth emerged.  This is the event I based the painting on.  As usual, I might touch the painting up a bit.

Here is a video I produced of the 2019 event…

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