Luke and Elissa sketching on Angel’s Landing / photo: Mahting Putelis
I am writing this from Zion, while at an expedition with Legendeer. What is Legendeer, you ask? Well, in case you’re not familiar, here’s a bit from the Legendeer website:
Legendeer is dedicated to embedding artists back into the world.
We design tools and programs to facilitate creative pioneers in pursuit of authenticity and cultural impact across a broad range of mediums.
Legendeer is a community focused, multi-disciplinary movement, inviting innovators from creative industries as diverse as Illustration, Production Art, Independent Filmmaking, Education, Performance, Writing, Fine Art and Entrepreneurship. We believe in the vital connection between our experiences, our health, and our creative pursuits.
Canyoneering group / photo: @maelstrm
Rob canyoneering / photo: @maelstrm
Canyoneering group / photo: Ron Lemen
Emerald Pools / photo: Vanessa Lemen
Rob performing for the group / photo: Vanessa Lemen
This year’s Legendeer expedition is in the Zion Canyon area of Zion National Park. With 45 of us, we split into 3 groups each day to head out on various excursions in the area, and each day, one group stays back at the hub for an instructed workshop. Collectively, we’ve hiked such trails as the Watchman trail, Emerald Pools and The Grotto trails, Angel’s Landing and West Rim trails, Observation Point, as well as hiked the (currently very high) Virgin River in the Narrows, and have gone canyoneering by way of rappelling into the slot canyons in the area. We all return in the afternoon to relax for a bit, continue our sketches and ideas from the hikes, write, play music, chat about our experiences – some head out for more hiking or running or adventuring – then later, we gather for presentations by the instructors. Every day has been amazing.
sketching at the basecamp / photo: @maelstrm
Jeremy Collins and the group sketch while canyoneering / photo: @maelstrm
Liz at Angel’s Landing / photo and sketch: Jason Chapman
Hannah sketching at Angel’s Landing / photo: Jason Chapman
the amazing Sandy and Forrest Hundley who took such great care of us all this week! So grateful for these two.
Kirsten sketching at Emerald Pools / photo: Vanessa Lemen
Wilson strikes a pose in front of The Watchman / photo: Vanessa Lemen
Brook sketching on a hike / photo: Mahting Putelis
Nick plein air painting / photo: Mahting Putelis
(l)Sterling and Adam doing a painting demo / (r)the group at basecamp for dinner / photos: Vanessa Lemen
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in the Legendeer expeditions for about 5 years now, having adventured and held workshops in places such as Richmond Virginia, San Francisco, Yosemite, Banff, Calgary, and now Zion. I have always come back filled with an immense amount of creative energy and stronger sense of connection with what’s essential both in terms of community and of my own intent. There are some beautiful videos on the Legendeer website that encapsulate the experience so well, and I recommend watching them to get a bit of a glimpse at what the expeditions are like. And without a doubt, being immersed in the environment among fellow Legendeers is the absolute best way to truly grasp the experience.
Luke and Jeremy canyoneering / photo: Jason Chapman
the group canyoneering / photo: Jason Chapman
sketch in oil on left: Ron Lemen / sketch in mixed media on right: Vanessa Lemen
Ron and Kirsten canyoneering / photo: Jacqueline Lefranc
photo and art: Jeremy Collins
photo and art: Jeremy Collins
repelling into a canyon / photo: @legendeer
a few Legendeers at The Narrows / photo: Mahting Putelis
more fun at The Narrows
Virginie (l) at basecamp / photo: @maelstrm / Thiva (r) at basecamp / photo: Vanessa Lemen
The photos I’m sharing here throughout this article are from our recent adventure in Zion, still in progress. In no particular order, and from various Legendeer points of view, I give you a glimpse of my current state of being. The landscape is otherworldly, the energy is simultaneously invigorating, peaceful, and centering, and the company is inclusive, supportive, and inspiring.
Donny canyoneering / photo: @maelstrm
Bruno sketches at Emerald Pools / photo: @legendeer
photo: Ron Lemen
photo: Ron Lemen
photo: Ron Lemen
photos: Vanessa Lemen
waterfall at Emerald Pools / photo: Vanessa Lemen
Adam demonstrates strata / photos: Vanessa Lemen
Legendeers at The Watchman trail / photo: Vanessa Lemen
As the mantra of Legendeer co-founder, Sterling Hundley goes: Life Is Story. As a like-minded community, we connect on various levels, and being immersed in our surroundings collectively gives us all the creative boost we need. This is a time for us to be introspective while also sharing our stories, free ourselves from some creative blocks we may be having, give each other a hand at diving deeper, and support our courageous leaps toward discovering our purpose and investigating the depths and expanses of our authentic vision.
Sterling Hundley canyoneering / photo: Jason Chapman
Vanessa Lemen is an award-winning painter based in Carlsbad, CA, with works exhibited and in private collections internationally. Her paintings are layered in subtle allegory, with an explorative process that intertwines realism and imagination to depict humanity, metaphor and story. Her work has been published in the Illustrated Limited Edition books: The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin and A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, and is published in such art books as Spectrum and Infected By Art, and has been featured in articles in magazine such as American Art Collector, ImagineFX, and Poets And Artists. Vanessa is represented by Rehs Contemporary Galleries, writes monthly columns for the Muddy Colors blog, and is an educator who mentors privately, teaches classes online, and instructs at workshops across the US. Her work has earned her The Chesley Award and other awards in publications such Infected By Art, a Spectrum Award nomination, as well as Art Renewal Center’s ARC Salon, and participation in the International ARC Salon Exhibition.
Described through metaphorical imagery, it’s excerpts from her personal journey and reflection that she credits most as the inspiration for her work, and rolling with the unexpected as the very nature of her process. Much like the spontaneity of a dialogue, the marks on the surface are what evoke a response and then a discovery, and a possibility of something new to form. Each piece she creates seems to come from a chaos, and in it, she is able to create a place of reflection and curiosity, a balance of the deep-seated and the unknown, with areas of rest and of movement that intertwine to form a calm amid the chaos.