Archive for August, 2010

Finished the Crested Butte plein air piece, August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010

plein air watercolor at Crested Butte

I finally finished the watercolor that I spent an hour working on location at Crested Butte last evening.  Initially, I was satisfied with the church cupola, but very unsatisfied with the distant mountain range.  It had turned to a dark slate gray.  I took a washcloth soaked in water and scrubbed the mountain range until it was light again.  Then I worked on contrasting warm and cool colors, just as I had seen it live.  Thanks to a digital camera and this laptop computer, I could project the image of the landscape that I had photographed just before beginning the plein air study. Technology can be such a wonderful friend, especially outside the studio.  I’m satisfied now with the light and shadow contrasts within the mountain range–those were what prompted me to do this study to begin with.

Thanks for reading.

Plein Air beginning in Creede, Colorado, August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010

Plein air watercolor study of Creede, Colorado

Those of you who have been reading my blog know that my intentions today were to return to oil painting en plein air–something I haven’t done since 1976.  My artist friend Chris gave me the gift of a wonderful Jullian French easel just before I departed for Colorado on this vacation.  I used the easel for the first time during my final morning of watercoloring in Colorado Springs at the beautiful Garden of the Gods.

Sandi and I arrived in Creede early this afternoon and found the town darkened, and under heavy cloud cover and intermittent rains.  We ducked from several separate rain showers and finally settled into The Old Firehouse Internet Coffee Shop.  After about an hour spent reading books and surfing the Internet, I finally looked outside to see the sun had returned.  I dashed out behind the city to an unobtrusive site where I could sit and contemplate those wonderful “pillars of Hercules” that form the classic backdrop for this small mountain town.

Twenty-five minutes into this watercolor study (I didn’t trust the spastic weather to taking out all my oil painting supplies and setting up the easel), the heavens opened again with such gusto that I had to dash 100 yards to my parked Jeep, holding this watercolor sketch face downward.  All my watercolor supplies sat out and got soaked, awaiting my return from the Jeep.

I did manage to photograph this location, so I will finish the composition by use of my laptop for the visual aid.  I’m happy so far with the way the rocky bluffs are shaping up.  I do have part of the rooftops of the town penciled in that I’ll detail later.

Thanks for reading.

Watercolor Sketch in Crested Butte, August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010

church in Crested Butte, Colorado

Took about 45 minutes to do this quick watercolor sketch while strolling Crested Butte, Colorado.  The sun was setting low and I liked this rim of mountains behind this church cupola.  The mountain range did not come out the way I wanted so I took a cloth towel and water and scrubbed it of most of its color.  I’ll return to that later and try to get the sunwashed mountain colors and cool shadows into place.

Thanks for reading.  If all goes according to plan, I will attempt my first plein air oil painting since about 1976.  I’ll make this attempt in Creede, Colorado.  We’ll see how that goes.

First Plein Air Painting in Colorado

August 5, 2010

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.