The Art of R. Geoffrey Blackburn

R. Geoffrey Blackburn Red Canyons oil painting

"Red Canyons"

Oil on Linen


Description Size Price
Oil on Linen
24 x 30 in  (61 x 76.2 cm) Sold
Giclée Print 24 x 30 in  (61 x 76.2 cm) inquire
Giclée Print:  (Artist's Proof) 24 x 30 in  (61 x 76.2 cm) inquire
Giclée Print:  30 x 38 in  (76.2 x 96.5 cm) inquire
Giclée Print:  (Artist's Proof) 30 x 38 in  (76.2 x 96.5 cm) inquire
Giclée Print:  (Artist's Proof) 44 x 54 in  (61 x 91.4 cm) inquire
Serigraph  (25 color) 30 x 42 in (81.3 x101.6 cm Sold out

Custom sizes and formats available contact:

"Red Canyons"

The Painting:

I started "Red Canyons" in 1979 upon my return from a failed business venture in Denver. Having lost a bundle and taking a great personal hit, I literally escaped into my painting. I just dove into my art and “lived” there for months! I slogged on day after day working in an area the size of a human mouth– trying to capture 1/25 of a second on canvas. Finally, *852 life-changing hours later, having painted through the night, I finished "Red Canyons" just after dawn. Numb and exhausted, I went to the mouth of Parleys Canyon in Salt Lake City and sat in the Kmart parking lot nursing a hot coffee and staring off into space. Finally, returning to my studio, I put the painting under my bed where it stayed for several months—only taking it out to show prospective clients.

A lawyer I know came to the studio a few times to look at "Red Canyons". He would sit there, his face up close to the painting, turning the lights off and on opening and closing the curtains studying the effects of the light on "Red Canyons" as he "went into the piece." This was a pretty typical reaction.

I took the painting to show Maxie Anderson, CEO of Ranchers Exploration and Mining in Albuquerque. NM. (and leader of the historic first balloon flight across the Atlantic Ocean). Maxie Anderson was also a serious art collector who had previously commissioned me to paint a couple of pieces for his collection. I was introduced to Maxie by Ranchers’ head geologist Dave Fitch who I had taken out to show some of our uranium properties. When Maxie, saw "Red Canyons," he wanted it for his corporate collection but, being the wheeler-dealer he was, he wanted to pay a couple of grand less than I wanted for the piece, so I decided to take "Red Canyons" and return to Salt Lake City to think about it.

I wheeled "Red Canyons" in its custom-built transport case it into the airport and checked it at air cargo to fly back to Salt Lake City. I flew back home. When I went to retrieve my painting, I was told that it had vanished. For nearly 2 weeks it remained lost. My blood pressure soared. Finally, it turned up in (I think it was) Duluth. After the painting and I were reunited, Maxie and I came to terms. So, "Red Canyons" went back to Albuquerque where it remained until after Maxie and his friend Don Ida were tragically killed in a balloon accident in Europe.

Maxie’s company, Ranchers Exploration and Developemnt Corp., was subsequently sold to Hecla Mining and the painting went to Coer d’ Alene Idaho where it hung in various corporate offices until it disappeared. After extensive investigation we concluded that the painting had been stolen. To this day, we have no idea who has the painting.

2016- UPDATE: the story continues.  I found out a few months back that I had rather dense cataracts in both eyes.  I had them removed this summer.  What a shock!  I actually got to see my own paintings for the first time in decades without major color distortion!  Imagine looking at life through dark amber lenses and you will get the idea. Apparently, cataracts play havoc with blues and purples and totally goof up light refraction- anyway, I was very surprised and pleased by the vibrancy of the colors and happily, still very pleased with Red Canyons.  It could have gone the other way- my colors could have been washed out and dull (see Monet's work  before and after cataract surgery)...Wow, a partially blind painter... Who knew?

The Serigraph:

Before I sold "Red Canyons" to Maxie Anderson, a well-known Seattle fine art publisher, Larry Winn offered me a deal to publish the image as a limited edition serigraph. I flew the painting up to Seattle where I worked with Master Printer and artist Max Hayslette to produce the edition. The prints turned out great! Happily, the edition also sold out.

I spent some of the prints like currency trading for this and that. The number 1 print in the edition was hand-carried to Washing D.C. and presented to President Ronald Reagan who was so taken with it he wrote me a very nice letter expressing his thanks and saying that it would make a fine addition to his Presidential Library. I was told by a high party official that "I was very well thought of in the White House" a good thing for a starving artist. "Red Canyons" hung in the White House in the office of Presidential Scheduling. Subsequently, I met and spoke with President Reagan-quite an experience! He was a very extraordinary man!

During this period, I had written to Robert Redford and sent him a photo of my painting. I did not expect any response from him. Months went by and then, out of the blue, I got a call from his personal assistant Robbie Miller, who told me Mr. Redford would be at Sundance and wanted to meet with me to talk art. He was on a break from directing his Academy Award winning film" Ordinary People" I met him at Sundance as requested showed him the serigraph print. He seemed quite taken with it. The two of us wrestled it up on the wall behind his desk. We had a very interesting conversation. Among other things, he told me that he had studied art in Paris also that he was not only an environmentalist, but also a developer (he gestured out the window at the Sundance Resort as he told me this). His beautiful Sundance Ski Resort is an excellent example of development in harmony with nature. A cool guy!

I met and presented a "Red Canyons" print to Secretary of State, Alexander Haig (also a 4-Star General and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe). We visited and it turned out that we were both U.S. Army Officers in the same branch, Armor. In person, he is a very articulate, and really quite brilliant.

"Murder, She Wrote"

One evening in the mid 1980’s, I got a call from my father-in-law who told me that my "Red Canyons" serigraph was in an episode of the "Murder, She Wrote" TV show (entitled "Murder at the Oasis"). I was dubious as I knew nothing about this. He assured me it was true and that he was looking at it as we spoke. He sent me a tape of the program and sure enough, there it was. They had rolled credits over "Red Canyons" and even did the murder in front of it! Egad! I was flattered, but also curious as to how they got the piece in the first place. (I later learned that they had gotten it from a Hollywood prop house). I thought I should be compensated for the use of my image in their TV show. So, I called Universal Television and was put through to the studio’s head legal council. We negotiated and came to terms and finally, they paid me.

The Pigment Print (Giclée)

I took a decade-long break from painting. During this hiatus, giclée prints begin appearing in some of the galleries I visited. I was amazed by the incredible quality and richness of these reproductions, so I investigated the giclee printing process and decided to make a giclée (pigment print) of "Red Canyons". Although the serigraph version was a hugely successful and beautiful piece, it was nonetheless an interpretation of the original painting. This relatively new printing process gave me the first opportunity to make a direct, high fidelity copy of the original and retain the vibrancy of the painting. Also, for the first time, given the ultra-high resolution of the printing process, I could significantly enlarge the image and really look at the detail. So in 2005, we made our first "Red Canyons" pigment print. I was delighted! This new pigment print version of "Red Canyons" has been very popular with collectors. "Red Canyons" is one of my all-time favorite paintings.

(*I used a punch-in time clock to calculate the hours with brush in hand)"

R. Geoffrey Blackburn


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