First Plein Air Painting in Colorado

Pike's Peak from Garden of the Gods

Mountain Horizon from Garden of the Gods

Colorado remains my favorite geographical point on this planet.  I’ve been to thirty-eight states, along with Italy, Greece, Germany and Turkey.  Granted I prefer to travel abroad to study art history and antiquities in general.  But I still choose Colorado for plein air painting and fly fishing.

Funny that I mention plein air painting.  I’ve only done this for fifteen months now, but the experience has opened more worlds to me than georgraphy ever did.

Today marks the first time that I painted a Colorado setting en plein air. All prior Colorado paintings were done, looking at digital images I had made myself.  In fact, three years ago I did quite a lot of watercolor work in Colorado–but all of it came from digital photographs.  I was too intimidated at the vastness of the world visible to the eye to paint from life.

All of that changed today.  I was joined by the very talented Carolye Asfahl, a former student I was thrilled to know from my Lamar High School teaching days way back in 1988.  Carolye also studied plein air watercolor with me at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts in June of this year.  She resides in Colorado Springs, and proved a wonderful “scout” for my inaugural excursion into plein air.

We chose the Garden of the Gods, and parked our vehicles in Lot 7, then walked (avoiding the bear scat) about 100 feet to this splendid location where we could see Pike’s Peak.  My attempt to paint Pike’s Peak, I suppose, was a symbolic gesture.  Why shouldn’t my first plein air Colorado painting be of a landmark?  But alas, as soon as I began laying in the sky colors, enormous clouds rolled in and completely obscured the Peak from our sight.  So, I focused on the foreground trees, and finally laid in colors that I thought might be those of Pike’s Peak.  All of the experience of painting this setting was most enjoyable nevertheless.

My second painting I have simply titled “Garden of the Gods.”  I found this one much easier to navigate, as the clouds had dispersed for the most part, leaving only scattered misty regions lurking about the mountain I chose to render.  I found this much easier to paint.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to devote about two hours to a single watercolor at the Garden of the Gods.  The two posted today took about three hours total.  I want to see what I can do by focusing on one painting early tomorrow morning before leaving for Denver.

Thanks for reading.  Colorado, on this first day, has been a blast.

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3 Responses to “First Plein Air Painting in Colorado”

  1. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    Incredibly beautiful. I like the rosy glow on the side of Pike’s Peak in the first painting and the way you used negative painting for the bushes in the foreground on both paintings. Very effective. I’ve never been to Colorado. Thank you for sharing your vision.

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  2. lesliepaints Says:

    I think these are awesome, David. I experience everything you talk about each time I go out to paint outdoors. It has become a little easier to decipher what I am going to include and what has to go but I am still not to the point I can leave a plein air alone when I get home. Mine never look finished. I am so slow.

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  3. davidtripp Says:

    Thank you, Linda and Leslie. I’ve been on hiatus a few days (fly fishing like crazy!). I’ll be returning to plein air pretty quickly now. I’ve been offline as there has been zero Internet access for me the past three days. I appreciate your comments very much. Thanks Linda for the positives about the negative areas in the bushes. I plan to doctor those up, probably after I return home. Meanwhile I’ve gone ahead and ripped the page off the block so I can get going on another. Leslie, thanks for the sentiments. I too cannot leave the plein air alone after I return to the inside. I’ll be touching up some of these Colorado pieces soon. Hopefully I’ll be painting plein air again today or no later than tomorrow. We’re now en route to the Gunnison area.

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