Sunday, September 12, 2010

Colorado Paintings, Part One

Posted by Maggie
August was an intense month. We had a long trip to the east coast in July, so Bill spent much of August catching up on all those things that pile up when you're away for weeks. For me, the month was computer-intensive, as I prepared files with convention information and registration for the International Association of Pastel Societies' Ninth Biennial Convention.

So we needed a break. We didn't have a lot of time to go far, so we went to southern Colorado, a lovely location southeast of Pagosa Springs. It's a place we go often and know well, so we can jump right into painting without having to spend a lot of time learning the landscape.

Our first painting day started with clouds—lots of clouds. They were moving fast, but not really threatening rain. We set up along the edge of a lightly-traveled road, looking over the valley, which is ringed by mountains on three sides. Our vista was of a fairly low range of mountains and hills, mostly covered with forest.

I've been experimenting with a relatively new surface, Pastelmat. It comes in a number of colors, but for this piece I worked on white. Normally I start a landscape painting by painting the sky, but for this subject I blocked in a light layer of color over the land mass first. While we were setting up, I'd noticed the occasional light hitting the trees and creating brilliant patches of lighter greens, and I hoped I'd see that happen again. Patience paid off, and when the light illuminated an area, I quickly laid it in. At the same time, I noted the breaks in the clouds with a sky-blue, then massed the clouds in as fast as I could. I particularly liked where the clouds drifted over the tops of the mountains, and put that in place the minute I saw it. The clouds moved and shifted before I could finish them, but I stayed with the composition and just looked at other cloud formations for color and value. In a little less than an hour, the light had changed too much to go any farther, so I stopped. Left, Fast-Moving Clouds, 9.5x12, ©Maggie Price.

Meanwhile, Bill began with a warm gray piece of Colourfix paper, and chose a vertical format. He concentrated on the clouds first, and since he was looking in a different direction, his clouds were a little more stormy and threatening. He mentioned that he's more used to working on the Richeson Premium Pastel Surface, and in fact had thought that's what he picked up, but the Colourfix has a little less tooth than the Richeson. However, it was sufficiently toothy for a quick field study. Once he had developed the cloud formations, he quickly blocked in the land masses and the foreground trees. Left, Storm Chaser, 9.25x10.25, ©Bill Canright.

We packed up our supplies, headed back to the cabin for a quick snack, and then moved down the hill to our next painting destination, described in the next blog, Colorado Paintings, Part Two.

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