Sunday, September 12, 2010

Colorado Paintings, Part Three

Posted by Maggie

Our second full day of our mini-vacation in Colorado did not start out as planned. We went to one of the painting locations we'd selected the day before, but the light was very different and we weren't happy with it. We decided to go paint the pond we'd looked at the previous day, but on the way there, realized that the morning light would not give us the same reflections we'd seen the previous afternoon. So we took a drive up a mountain road to a trail head where we knew there was another pond, surrounded by tall pines, that often has beautiful reflections. The road isn't long, but you can only drive about 20 mph or even less, and you have to watch for deer and other critters.

We finally arrived only to find the pond covered with an unattractive brown scum, and no reflections whatsoever. We took the long drive back down the mountain, and decided to have lunch, go hiking and then return to the other pond with great afternoon reflections a little later.

It was worth the wait. The light was perfect, there was a slight breeze, and we were able to set up our easels right on the edge of the road. The reflection of the mountain, trees and grasses was stunningly beautiful.

I'm enjoying using Pastelmat for plein air paintings. The surface feels smooth to the touch, but you can put quite a few layers on it, and it grabs the pastel and doesn't let go. The ability to quickly cover the surface is a real advantage when you have to work fast in changing light. For this subject, I chose  dark gray (I think they call it anthacite) which gave me the dark value to start with. The hill in the background was covered with pine, but had lots of deep blue shadows. I concentrated on implying trees rather than describing each one, then moved quickly to the fun part, which was the reflections and the objects reflected in the water. I love painting water with reflections, but this was one of the first times I'd tried it on Pastelmat. (I usually use Richeson Premium Pastel Surface or Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper for this kind of subject.) You can't really do any blending on Pastelmat unless you practically fill the tooth, but I didn't need much blending anyway, so I was happy with it. Afternoon Reflections, 9.5x12, ©Maggie Price.

Although we were only a few feet apart, Bill chose a little different view, and concentrated mostly on the water. He worked on a 9x12 piece of white Richeson Premium Pastel Surface on Gatorfoam. In spite of beginning with white, he was able to quickly get the rich dark colors he wanted in the water. His subject is mostly about the water and reflections, so he moved the land mass up in the composition to emphasize the water. In comparing our two paintings, I think I like his composition better. Mine is divided a little too evenly between land and water. But that's the thing about plein air painting—especially when the light is changing fast, you have to make fast decisions and you might later wish you had done something differently. I really like the moody quality of this painting of Bill's, Roadside Attraction, 9x12, ©Bill Canright.

By the time we finished these, it was time to head back for dinner. We left for home the next morning, having enjoyed a brief, but rejuvenating, retreat to the southern Colorado mountains.

1 comment:

  1. Maggie and Bill, these two pieces are outstanding! I've been to the Sangra de Christo (spelling?) mountains and boy is it remote! How far of a drive is it for you? Again, love these!