Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Scrub Oak in the Sandias

(Posted by Maggie)

This year, in addition to the wonderful colors of the fall aspens, the scrub oak has been unusually beautiful. Some years it goes quickly from green to a dull rusty brown, and then to a dry and unattractive brown. Perhaps because of the unusually heavy rain this summer, though, the scrub oak is simply gorgeous.

The hillsides about halfway up the mountain road (probably at an altitude of 7,000 feet or so) are spectacular. The colors ranged from a few leftover greens through a spectrum of rusty red, pinkish red, oranges and yellows, in an incredible tapestry blanketing the hillside. A few rock formations and an occasional deciduous tree, still green, broke up the mass of oak.

You wouldn’t want to try to work your way through this foliage. Waist-high, it is dense and unforgiving, ripping at your clothes and skin. But from a distance, especially in a fall like this one, it is a thing of beauty.

I decided to paint it in pastel, so I could take advantage of the rough surface (Richeson Premium Pastel Surface, on gatorfoam, terra cotta color) and layer many different colors. I am not sure I could have achieved anything near this effect with oils, though perhaps I’ll give it a try at some point.

Above, Fall Oaks, 5x7, pastel on sanded surface, ©Maggie Price, $75.

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