Many significant events have taken place in the past 18 years, but students at Sedona Red Rock High School couldn’t learn about them from the history books they were using.

Students will try to sell chunks of the old Oak Creek bridge near Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village to help raise money to pay for the new books already bought for the class. The students in Elaine Watkins’ Advanced Placement U.S. History class were using books that ended with 1992. The class filled the gap with other sources but finally decided more current textbooks were necessary, especially when the people who make the test questions are using a book from 2006.

The new books cost $140 each, and Watkins said the Sedona-Oak Creek School District told her the students could have a fundraiser to cover the cost.

Watkins and her class agreed and came up with an approved plan.

“We bought the books already. Now we have to pay the district back. We owe them $1,600 for 12 books,” Watkins said.

Sedona Red Rock High School student Alex Bindrim, left, holds the beat-up old history book Tuesday, Nov. 30, students in Advanced Placement United States history class used. Junior Colton Trcic, right, holds a copy of the new book and a box containing a piece of the bridge.Plans for the fundraiser Watkins and the students came up with began when the bridge across Oak Creek near Tlaquepaque was torn down. Watkins’ husband worked near the bridge and asked the Arizona Department of Transportation crew if he could gather some chunks to use as a fundraiser for the high school. They agreed.

Now, the students have packaged the 100 pieces of the old bridge into clear boxes with a small plaque that reads “Oak Creek Bridge at Tlaquepaque: 1949-2010.” They will sell the numbered boxes along with a certificate of authenticity for $20 each. The No. 1 box will be sold through an e-mail silent auction, Watkins said.

“People can e-mail me their bid at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,” she said. “We need more than 12 books, so I’ll have to hit the streets for more money.”

She said the fundraiser is like having a piece of Sedona’s history help buy textbooks for the history class.
“We’re selling an authentic piece of the old bridge — let history help history,” Watkins said, citing the last four words as the fundraiser’s motto.

Junior Alex Bindrim leafed through the old book.

“The book is older than I am. My whole life is after this book. It ends at Bill Clinton’s election — his first one,” Bindrim said.

Since the book was written, three presidents have lived in the White House; O.J. Simpson was put on trial and acquitted in the murder of his wife; several countries have adopted the euro as their official currency; the much anticipated Y2K disaster never happened; terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001; war was declared in Iraq and Afghanistan; Hurricane Katrina caused flooding and evacuation of thousands in and around New Orleans; and home computers, laptops, digital cameras and cell phones have become commonplace.

Bindrim said he is in the class because he likes learning about people in history who still have an effect today.

“We also discuss the issues and analyze why things happened the way they did then,” Bindrim said. “There are lessons to learn to apply to our own situations, such as [President Andrew] Jackson’s establishment of a two-party system, which was controversial then and still affects politics today. Most people only think of him as the president on the $20 bill.”

Colton Trcic joined the class for fun. He has always enjoyed history and sees the class as very interesting, not boring.

“It’s a mix of knowing what happened and seeing how things were, and compare them to how they are today,” Trcic said.

High School Principal David Lykins is very supportive of the idea of students taking responsibility for their own learning.

“It’s cool. They’re taking Sedona history and translating it into their history books. There’s an obvious bridge between the two,” Lykins said. “Selling the bridge boxes gives the students ownership of the books.”
Anyone interested in buying a bridge box can call Watkins at 204-6712.

Since she saw “Riverdance” Arianna Thorne has been dancing — and it has paid off.

The Sedona Red Rock High School junior recently danced and leaped her way to qualify for the 2011 World Irish Dancing Championships to be held in Dublin, Ireland, on Sunday, April 17, through Saturday, April 23.

Arianna Thorne relaxes in her home Friday, Nov. 26, while talking about the upcoming 2011 World Irish Dancing Championships, which she will compete in Sunday, April 17, through Saturday, April 23, in Dublin, Ireland.Thorne’s mother tells the story of how her dancing daughter began her love affair with Irish dance.

“When she was 3½ Grandpa Keith Thorne brought over the ‘Riverdance’ video and we watched it. The next day Arianna wanted to watch it again,” Jayne Thorne said. “She then came out wearing a one-piece swimsuit and started dancing along with the video. She put her arms to her side and started moving her feet and jumping up like the dancers were doing.

“We put her in dance class [ballet], but when she was 6½ we heard about the Irish Dance school in Flagstaff, and I took her there since it was Irish dance she loved.”

What Arianna Thorne learned from her teacher, Pat Hall, who drives from Tucson to teach her, is a competitive Irish dance — a type of Irish folk dance — rather than the more showy form seen in “Riverdance.” Hall was born in Ireland and has taught for 35 years, and she brought Irish dance to the Western United States, Jayne Thorne said.

“It’s quite a legacy and Arianna is part of that through dance,” Thorne said. “She will always dance. It’s in her.”

When not taking classes, attending high school or sleeping, the Sedona born and raised teen is most likely doing some type of dance. Arianna Thorne takes classes in ballet in McGuireville, ballroom and Latin dancing in West Sedona and is a member of the Scorpions cheer team.

“I love all kinds of dancing, plus I have a lot of Irish ancestry on both sides of my family. I also like the competition of it,” Thorne said as she adjusted her dancing dress made from purple velveteen with rhinestones and Irish embroidery with gold thread. “All of the dresses are one-of-a-kind with lots of bling to sparkle on stage.”

The outfits for competition are hand-designed and made to specifically fit each dancer’s preference and style. She dances, mostly on her toes, in both the light, lace up shoes, which are similar to ballet shoes, and the hard shoes.

Arianna Thorne, right, reacts after being named a top qualifier at the Western Region Oireachtas in Sacramento, Calif., in November. After finishing in the top 12 out of 74 other dancers, Thorne will head to Dublin, Ireland, next year to compete in the 2011 World Irish Dancing Championships.Thorne has been dancing and competing in Irish dance for 10½ years and said her family has been very supportive. In fact, they all plan to go with her to Ireland: her parents, Jayne and Reed, and her older brothers, Luke and Keith.

To be eligible for the world championships, Thorne had to compete and be one of the top qualifiers at the Western Region Oireachtas, a Gaelic term which literally translates to “gathering,” in Sacramento, Calif., on Nov. 19 through Nov. 21. She competed in the individual dance against 73 other dancers. The dance involves the feet and legs with the arms held at the sides, performing several skips, leaps and turns. Only 12 are chosen to go to the world championships, and Thorne was one of them.

Thorne still gets excited talking about it. She brought out a photograph of her taken at the moment her name was announced as a qualifier. Thorne was leaping high into the air and shouting.

“She worked really, really hard. She deserves it. She missed it by three girls the last two years,” Jayne Thorne said. “She’s also gained a lot of friends all over the country and confidence. It’s also taught her some life lessons, like learning how to lose gracefully — and she does.”

Between now and April, Thorne plans to do a lot of dancing. She will be competing with dancers from all over the world.

Thorne has aspirations to continue dance the rest of her life and maybe even enjoy a career in dancing.
“I would love to join a show doing this,” she said as she practiced a few steps in the family’s living room.

Sedona resident Dennis Knill plans to run for president of the United States of America.

Sedona resident Dennis Knill announced his plans to run for president of the United States earlier this month. Knill, who has lived in the Village of Oak Creek for 20 years, attended college in Cleveland, where he obtained a degree in law enforcement. Knill, 56, announced his plans to run for the White House earlier this month. As part of his platform, Knill said he wants to create jobs, eliminate income tax, secure the nation’s borders, cut frivolous government spending and bring the military back home.

While he’s running for the nation’s highest office, Knill made it clear that he is not a politician. Many in Congress, he said, are born with a “silver spoon” and have no concept of working families.

“I had enough. I’m a businessman myself and, every time you turn around, you’re taxed on something else,” he said. “Only 8 percent of the people in Congress have ever really lived the American life. With them in there, they are just spending. You need somebody that’s average. I’m not a politician and I didn’t even want to vote in years past. Whether Republican or Democrat, they were all crooks.”

He accused politicians, on both sides of the political fence, of working for special interests in order to fill their own pockets. Knill said he would cut the government by a third, or possibly in half, should he be elected to the Oval Office.

“We have to create jobs. That’s the No. 1 priority,” Knill said. “I want to get rid of the income tax and have a flat usage tax, like when you go to the grocery store or whatever you buy. That way it’s fair for everybody. That way nobody has to worry about income tax.”

He said he would also like to secure the borders and bring the military “back home.”

“We don’t need to be in those other places. I think we need to get the economy stabilized, where people can trust the government. We definitely need to cut the spending,” Knill said.

According to his website, at www.friendsofdennisknillforpresident.com, Knill has been divorced and remarried, filed for bankruptcy and earned average grades. He attended college in Cleveland, where he obtained a degree in law enforcement. Knill reports that he carries a copy of his birth certificate with him at all times.

“There will be no doubt that I am an American citizen,” Knill said on his site.

With a year and a half remaining before the primaries, Knill has busied himself with sending press releases to news agencies across the country and speaking to individuals both locally and abroad about his plans. He said he is currently seeking a campaign manager.

“I’m looking for staff. I’d love to have Glenn Beck on my staff. He’s on Fox News. He’s got a great investigative team,” Knill said.

Knill, who currently works in home remodeling and repair, has owned a number of businesses in the past.
“I’ve had businesses where I worked basically alone, and then I have had employees and associates over 600 at a time,” Knill said.

Voters, he said, no longer know what to believe when it comes to politics in America.

“The reason the economy got this way, it’s all our fault,” Knill said. “People throw up their hands and say, ‘What’s the use?’”

Overworked citizens, he added, should get involved in local and national affairs despite their often busy schedules and care for one another as they did following 9/11.

“People need to get involved to know what’s going on,” Knill said.

Thanksgiving is more than a celebration of friends and family.

It’s an opportunity to welcome friends, family and sometimes strangers to share food, time and thankfulness.

While the first English pilgrims offered thanks for surviving their first year in the New World, modern Thanksgiving Day gratitude often isn’t too different.

“First and foremost I’m thankful for my family,” Mayor Rob Adams said. “I’m thankful that I have the privilege to serve the community of Sedona.

“Our tradition is to get together with family. I try to balance that with community service,” Adams said. That includes bringing in people to join his family who don’t have a place to go and making sure they have an enjoyable day.

“This year, we’re going to visit my wife’s sister in Oregon. It’s the first time being up with her family,” Adams said.

When it comes to a meal, Adams said he’s a simple guy.

“I like turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy,” Adams said.

“First and foremost, I’m thankful for my wife and children, and that they’re all healthy and employed,” Sedona City Manager Tim Ernster said. “Even given the state of the economy, they’re doing fine.”

Ernster said his tradition involves making food no one else eats.

“Every Thanksgiving for years I’ve made cranberries. But nobody eats my cranberries, so we wind up throwing them away,” Ernster said.

He keeps the tradition alive because his father used to make cranberries and Ernster still enjoys making them, even adding in things like kiwifruit for a different taste or texture.

“I guess there’s just some people who don’t like cranberries,” he said.

Part of the ritual, Ernster said, is his family makeing fun of his cranberries.

Ernster also makes a Chex Mix with his youngest son, who will be coming up to Sedona from Phoenix on Friday, Nov. 19. They give out the mix to other family members.

“It’s one of the fun things we do together,” he said.

The one dish that Ernster said he particularly likes is a green bean and cream of mushroom soup casserole with onions on top that his wife, Helen, makes for Thanksgiving.

“I am thankful for my supporting family and a very welcoming community,” Sedona Police Department Police Chief Raymond Cota said.

He said his only big Thanksgiving tradition is trying to get as many family members together as possible.
“My wife makes an apple pie that I look forward to every year,” Cota said.

“I’m thankful for my wife, good health, my career and thankful to be here in the Sedona Fire District, leading the fire district and just being a part of this community,” SFD Fire Chief Nazih Hazime said.

“Our tradition? Just being with family and spending time together. It’s a time to reunite,” he said.

Hazime said he doesn’t have any special dishes for the holiday except for turkey sandwiches.
“Really, the turkey is at the top of my list,” Hazime said.

“I’m thankful for my 22 years of sobriety. I’m thankful for my boys, Kyle and Brian, their spouses, Stacy and Rochelle, and especially my grandchildren, William, Adam and Lucas,” said Robert B. Larson, publisher of the Sedona Red Rock News.

“And I’m exceptionally grateful for Vicki, my wife of 37 years,” Larson said.

Larson said he and his family go to Tucson every Thanksgiving to share the holiday with Vicki’s father, who turned 95 this year, and her extended family. In all, about 20 family members get together.

“We’ve been going down there for 25 years,” Larson said.

He said his favorite dishes are Vicki’s homemade stuffing and a pumpkin pie Rochelle makes just like Vicki’s mom did before she passed away.

“I’m most thankful for my beautiful family and friends: my husband, Rick, my mom and dad who spend three months in Sedona each year, my brother, my niece and nephew and my wonderful friends,” said Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. “I would not be who I am today without their support, encouragement and love. Also, I recently had knee surgery, and it reminded me how thankful I am to be healthy and active — or used to be.

“Growing up, we always sat at one table and each one of us shared what we are most thankful for. Of course, dinner was always scheduled around football,” she said. “As an adult, our Sedona Thanksgivings always include a morning hike.”

“OK, I know this is a little wonky, but growing up we always had Hawaiian salad with our traditional Thanksgiving dinner,” Wesselhoff said.

“Our version of Hawaiian salad is made with maraschino cherries, pineapple, marshmallows and whipped cream. It’s absolutely delicious. My mom also makes the best stuffing, but I might be biased.”

This is the time of year the Elks in Sedona like to talk turkey.

Jim Hutchins of the Sedona Elks Lodge 2291 loads turkeys onto a cart Nov. 12, in preparation of the lodge’s 24th annual Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner. Elks members will serve close to 1,000 people on Thursday, Nov. 25, from noon to 3 p.m.The members of the Sedona Elks Lodge 2291 are getting ready to cook and serve their 24th annual Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner at the lodge on Airport Road.

“We love doing this,” said Jim Hutchins, who is organizing this year’s event.

The doors open at the lodge at noon Thursday, Nov. 25. No reservations are needed. Just come in, take a plate and go down the buffet line. There is no charge, but donations will be gladly accepted.

Money to put on the free feast comes from donations and special Elks events throughout the year, plus the members of the lodge pitch in.

“Jake Weber also matches us turkey for turkey on the ones we buy at his store,” Hutchins said.

“Here at the lodge we’ll serve between 700 and 800 people in the three hours. We’ll also deliver meals to shut-ins, and our dinner will be what the people with Meals on Wheels will take to their clients that day,” Dee Hutchins said. “Elks volunteers will take meals to the fire stations, police department, the medical center here in Sedona and the radio station for whoever’s on duty there.”

The Hutchinses anticipate delivering nearly 200 meals.

“We’re going to be feeding almost 1,000 people,” Dee Hutchins said. “We’re also trying to get a few musicians in town to donate an hour or so to play for us. It makes the meal much nicer.”

The dinner has become a tradition of its own over the years. Some people who come have come for several years.

“If it’s not snowing, we get kids from NAU. We’ve had them from Germany, New Zealand, Japan and a lot of other countries. That makes for interesting conversation around the table,” Hutchins said.

Everyone is welcome to come and eat any time between noon and 3 p.m.

“So, instead of spending hours in the kitchen at home, come here and enjoy the best part — eating the meal — and enjoy the company of your neighbors,” Jim Hutchins said. “We’ll do the rest, even the dishes.”

The earth’s energy is constantly changing both above and below the surface.

Sedona resident Marsha Adams sits by her bank of computers at her home Tuesday, Nov. 9. Adams studies geopathic zones near her home and in the field to learn more about their effects on humans.A Sedona scientist is studying the phenomenon of the Earth’s energies and their effects on the humans who live here.

Marsha Adams, president of an educational nonprofit organization, the International Earthlight Alliance, does scientific investigations of interesting ancient lore and anomalies to attract the interest of students and the public to science. IEA seeks the truth, separating science from pseudoscience.

One of IEA’s current projects is investigation of geopathic zones. They are areas thought to be unhealthy for people.

There is speculation the zones form a grid on Earth and emit low-level radiation of various kinds that can cause health problems for people who stay within the zones for long periods of time such as when watching television, sleeping, reading or working on the computer.

“Most people are unaware of geopathic zones, but lore says cats and ants are attracted to them. Why, we don’t know,” Adams said.

In order to investigate the possibility of local geopathic zones, Adams has laid out a grid marked with small construction flags around the many anthills on an undeveloped property in Sedona. Interestingly, she saw the anthills formed a straight line. 

Adams is taking electric field, radiation and magnetic measurements of the 60 foot by 80 foot grid around the ant hills.

Adams and her team of volunteers, Jerry and Judy Kulka, want to find out as much as they can to determine iScientist MarshA Adams kneels in her backyard Tuesday, Nov. 9, near flags that mark geopathic grids. Adams also uses a sensor in the yard to send magnetic activity readings to her computers in her home.f these zones exist and how they work in order to possibly help people avoid or shorten exposure to them.

“Sedona is a mishmash of both intense and weak magnetic fields. It has the potential for many geopathic hot spots and cool spots,” Adams said.

A possibly related phenomenon is the release of energy from in the form of light, called earthlights. Adams and her international colleagues photographed these lights.

Adams belongs to the Society for Scientific Exploration. She is a biologist and worked in computers and research at SRI International. She has also performed medical research at Stanford Medical School and founded the Time Research Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area to do earthquake forecasting using low-frequency electromagnetic signals.

“While doing earthquake forecasting research I found that the human body can be very sensitive to these forces. It acts like an antenna and can be a conduit,” Adams said. “Our body will react in a variety of ways, like a feeling of being unwell, dizziness, irritability, headaches, but mostly fatigue.”

Coincidently, these symptoms share some commonality with symptoms reported to be produced by geopathic zones, she said.

“Of course, these symptoms can be caused by other factors but geopathic zone exposure is a culprit to be considered,” Adams said.

Before anyone panics, Adams said there are steps a person can take. First, to find out where the zones are on a person’s property it is necessary to take measurements to see if the zones can be detected and if and where they cross [thought to be a particularly negative influence].

“I always use instruments to measure hard data. IEA has not investigated dowsing, but it is said that dowsers are adept at finding these zones. A word of caution, there are many talented dowsers, but there are also many who claim to be who aren’t,” Adams said.

“The best solution is get away from the zone’s path — move the furniture or don’t spend much time in the area,” she said.

Reaction to geopathic zones may be aggravated by the man-made electromagnetic and magnetic fields around us, called “electrosmog.” It’s caused by household wiring, cell phone towers, clock radios, and the little black transformer plugs attached to many of our electronics. Adams calls the plugs “vampires” because they are constantly sucking electricity through their plug-in fangs.

“To reduce exposure, keep away from any of the plug-in vampires. If they’re plugged in, even if the appliance is off, they’re operating and sending out signals. Any electric appliance where we spend a lot of time should be at least six feet away from us, particularly the vampires attached to computer equipment.

It is difficult, though, with all of the electronics we have in our homes,” Adams said.

Video courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress and Gosfilmofond.

The Russians just saved a little piece of Sedona’s Western film history.

Vladimir I. Kozhin, head of management and administration of the president of the Russian Federation, right, officially presented digitally preserved copies of 10 previously lost U.S. silent films to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in a ceremony Oct. 21 in the library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Per Russian tradition, the gift was toasted with champagne.For decades, “The Call of the Canyon,” the 1923 silent film that kicked off Sedona as a set location for more than 60 movies, was considered lost forever.

However, on Oct. 21, Vladimir Kozhin, head of management and administration of the president of the Russian Federation, presented “The Call of the Canyon” and nine other digitally preserved copies of “lost” silent films to the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The films are the first installment of an ongoing series of “lost” U.S. films the Russians will give to the Library of Congress.

The films were digitally preserved by Gosfilmofond, the Russian Federation’s state film archive, and donated via the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“This is really exciting stuff,” said Janeen Trevillyan, with the Sedona Heritage Museum. “We heard rumors about this film being somewhere, including Russia. But we just thought it had been lost.”

Before the invention of home movies and television, once a film finished a theatrical run, it was of little profitable use to a studio and seen as a mere storage problem.

Early films were notoriously difficult to safely store because the nitrate reels could become brittle and slowly degrade into a highly flammable powder. Several major Hollywood studios suffered devastating fires in the 1920s and 1930s from improperly stored film reels including the Fox Pictures fire of 1937 that destroyed all the studio’s films made before 1935.

According to Trevillyan, American studios began selling off old silent film reels after the movies screened. Buyers sought out the reels not for the movie’s artistic merit, but to extract minute amounts of silver from the film reels.

According to the Library of Congress, although the films of the silent era from 1893 to about 1930 were created for American audiences, they were distributed in other countries — including Russia — and shown in movie houses with translated intertitles.

More than 80 percent of U.S. movies from the silent era no longer exist in the United States, due to neglect and deterioration over time.

Curators at the Library of Congress have stepped up efforts over the last 20 years to locate and repatriate lost U.S.-produced movies from foreign archives.

“The library is committed to reclaiming America’s cinematic patrimony,” Librarian of Con-gress James H. Billington stated. “I am grateful to the dedicated staff of Gosfilmofond, the state film archive of Russia, for their efforts to save these important artifacts of U.S. film history. I am also thankful for the commitment of professor Alexander Vershinin and the staff of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library f

or their collaboration and cooperation in making this cultural recovery effort possible.”

According to the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, as many as 200 silent and sound-era movies produced by U.S. movie studios may survive only in the Gosfilmofond archive.

Located outside Moscow, Gosfilmofond is the Russian Federation’s primary film archive of artistic, feature, documentary and animated films. Established in 1948, its collections includes more than 55,000 motion pictures, and it is the largest such archive in the world. It is administered by the Russian Ministry of Culture’s State Committee for Cinematography.

As Gosfilmofond holds related materials such as scenarios, film posters, photographs, press clippings, set designs and the personal papers of directors, actors and film critics, it is also a center for film research.

What makes the return of “The Call of Canyon” so remarkable, Trevillyan said, is the film survived in a vault through the turbulent years of World War II, the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Trevillyan has already spoken with a Library of Congress loan curator and filed a formal request asking for a copy of the film to be sent to Sedona as soon as possible.

“It’s going to be several months before they can inspect the file that they have been given, check it for accuracy, corruption, make sure it is what it is, completeness, all that kind of stuff,” Trevillyan said.

Once the film is verified and on its way home back to Sedona, Trevillyan said she’d like to partner with the Sedona International Film Festival and the Zane Grey West Society to screen the film for audiences here.

According to Trevillyan, author Zane Grey wrote the novel in Oak Creek Canyon although sources are unclear at which location.

A recent book, “Arizona’s Little Hollywood,” claims journal entries show Grey wrote the book in California and Oregon.

As the author, Grey kept creative control of the film rights, even though that was unusual for films of the era. He had it shot in Oak Creek Canyon.A view of the switchbackson what later became StateRoute 89A is clearly identifiable in a short clip posted online at www.redrocknews.com.

During filming, Grey brought with him still photographer Carl Mayhew, who later moved to Sedona and opened Mayhew’s Lodge.

Grey’s secretary, Mildred Johnson, also returned to the area with her husband, Harry Johnson, and moved to a home on Schnebly Hill Road becoming part of the Sedona community, Trevillyan said.

Art is far more than capturing what the eye sees.

It is an expression of the artist and how the artist feels about what he or she is painting.

Alvaro Castagnet talks Friday, Oct. 22, after finishing up his workshop at the Sedona Arts Center in Uptown. The award-winning Uruguayan artist travels around the world painting, demonstrating, lecturing and judging art competitions.“Painting is the amalgamation of elements that communicate an idea, a feeling, a mood — and this has to be done with passion. Painting is an illusion; art is inside,” Alvaro Castagnet said.

Castagnet is a watercolor artist who has won many awards worldwide. He received the prestigious High Winds award and medal from the American Watercolor Society in 2003, making him the first Uruguayan to win it. He was also one of the artists featured in the book “The Watercolor Landscape Techniques of 23 International Artists.”

Castagnet was in Sedona Oct. 18 through Oct. 22 teaching a workshop at the invitation of the Sedona Arts Center. Castagnet travels around the world painting, demonstrating, lecturing and judging art competitions. He is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English. His studio and home are in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he was born.

Castagnet’s talent blossomed early when he attended the National School of Art in Montevideo. Castagnet continued his studies, and began traveling with his art. He credits his travels throughout the world with expanding his expertise.

Castagnet is considered an expressive painter who uses a strong, colorful style. His ability to interpret light effects has been called “superb.”

During his workshop, Castagnet’s zeal for painting manages to inspire and lift the abilities of all who work with him.

Castagnet’s workshop preceded the annual Sedona Plein Air Festival running from Saturday, Oct. 23, through Saturday, Oct. 30, with dozens of highly talented artists participating.

While the workshop took Castagnet and his students outdoors each day, he also took them inside. In one session he showed how to work on hard and soft edges using charcoal. He smeared certain areas, getting his fingers very black.

“Charcoal sketches are the greatest invention. I love charcoal. You can blend, add or even change the images,” Castagnet said as he worked. A slanted mirror overhead allowed the class to watch as he moved across the cotton paper. Several watercolors created by Castagnet were scattered on the floor next to the table drying. “Once finished in charcoal, you can choose your palette.”

This was Castagnet’s first time in Sedona, and he found it a wonderful place to paint.

“I was very impressed by the topography and the mountains. I love to paint outdoors. It’s real life as you are looking at it,” Castagnet said.

Alvaro Castagnet draws Friday, Oct. 22, while Sedona artist Peggy Sands, center, and San Dee Kinnen watch.Castagnet’s advice for the new painter is to be very patient and only set small goals. More than anything else, paint for the joy of painting. Technique should be entirely subordinate to the demands of the emotions, Castagnet said.

“Watercolor is a beautiful medium. It’s enjoyable and it is relaxing,” he said.

Although most paintings are in color, Castagnet said the power of black is amazing, and the use of grays can create an outstanding mood.

“Like a forest at night — it’s all dark but you can still see the trees and the leaves. That’s why it is important to paint with mood and ambience,” Castagnet said. “It is so much better to see a painting that has a feel of mystery. You get hooked into it.”

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