Posts Tagged ‘mountains’

Saturday Mountain Musings

July 16, 2022
Watercolor sketch from this location last year

While birds symphonically sound the tranquility of a sun-splashed mountain slope, the stream below murmurs softly behind the curtain. Sipping coffee, I continue to gaze at the deep amber hues of the stream shallows with the scattered shadows of rocks beneath the rippling surface. Always the mute monumental presence, the enormous boulder, clothed in the morning rose-colored sunlight, rests beneath the shadows of the sheltering spruce.

From my morning journal.

With three days remaining in our Colorado vacation, I am actually ready for the journey back home, and back to our normal family life. This is new to me. In past years it seems we always squeezed out five-to-seven days of vacation time, and on the first day I was already feeling the pressure of getting everything into the vacation time that I wanted to do. This has been a twelve-day sojourn, and the stretch of days has seemed perfect; everything we’ve wanted to do has happened with plenty of rest time in between the day trips. As for my personal interests, I’ve been saturated fully with reading, writing, watercolor sketching and fly-fishing. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I feel genuinely restored and ready to return to our home.

I couldn’t resist

Last evening in Crested Butte, we found this lovely bookstore, offering a warm, inviting atmosphere for browsing, sitting, and enjoying coffee from the adjoining shop. I purchased this engaging book from a celebrated author I confess I hadn’t heard about. Sitting and reading the first five pages set the hook, and I knew what I would be reading religiously once I leave these beloved mountains behind in a few days. I cannot describe my love for the mountains in summer, the cool temperatures, the clean-smelling atmosphere, and the lovely, calming quiet.

My makeshift mountain studio

Yesterday was a full day of travel to Crested Butte (2 hours, 45 minutes one way), returning near midnight after leisure strolling, shopping, coffee-sipping and dining in the historic part of that town. While sitting and translating from Plotinus, it eventually dawned on me what to attempt next with my aspen watercolor experiment. I had reached a standstill yesterday, and the time away was good for regaining perspective. I’m glad to return to the painting today, as well as Plotinus.

Thanks for reading. This Saturday morning has offered a promising start.

I make art in order to discover

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Mixing Plein Air Painting and Fishing

June 30, 2016

Tucker Pond thursday (2)

Here we find ourselves, suddenly, not in a critical speculation, but in a holy place, and should go very warily and reverently.  We stand before the secret of the world, there where Being passes into Appearance, and Unity into Variety.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Poet”

Today marks the second time this week I tried to paint en plein air while fishing in a Colorado mountain pond.  This time I clipped a small bell to the end of my rod so I could stare at the landscape and try to paint, merely listening for the occasional strike.  As it turned out, it was a good day for fishing as I managed to land seven rainbows.  The painting was a tad more difficult as I began with the sun drenching everything before me beautifully, then, within thirty minutes, the skies darkened, the landscape lost all highlights and shadows and intensity of color, and the temperatures dropped into the upper thirties.  And then it rained on us.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience of trying to capture what lay before me.

When I began this work, the dead tree in the heart of the composition was almost white against a brilliant forest, and the sagging limbs looked like the ribcage of a skeleton.  So I used my masquepen on it, which is tricky at this altitude–the fluid bubbles out of the steel nib uncontrollably, and I had to scribble fast and loose with it.  Then when it was time to replace the lid by inserting the pin into the nib, that proved difficult because the fluid continued to dribble out of the nib; there was no stopping it.  Then, when the skies darkened, the dead tree all but disappeared into its surroundings, taking on a dull warm gray.  I chose to keep it bright against its background and tried to keep my colors intense, though they were no longer so in the reality that lay before me.  Such are the experiences of doing plein air in the midst of a living environment.

I hope that what I’ve just written hasn’t come across as negative.  The day was beautiful even if the weather and environment didn’t pose still for me.  When I gaze into the glories of mountain scenery I cannot help but wonder what I ever could have done to deserve such a Gift.  Emerson got it right; this was a holy place and I felt nothing short of reverence as I stood enveloped in it. I’ve always said my favorite past times were fishing and plein air painting.  This week has marked the first time I have tried to do both simultaneously.  And it was a joy.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Colorado Dizziness! Durango-Silverton Railroad Watercolor Finished!

July 4, 2011

Durango Silverton RxR finished

This 4th of July finds me somewhere between Vincent Van Gogh’s steam locomotive and Andy Warhol’s factory.  I’m possessed with an energy to kick out some art work on an assembly line.  I frequently allow a number of watercolor partial attempts to accumulate in my studio–some that I regarded as “finished enough” en plein air and others that just started out badly and I abandoned them but did not throw them away–just threw them aside.

Now and then a day comes along like this one, where I choose to line up the unfinished pieces and resolve to bring them to their conclusions, sign them, blog them and move on.

This painting began during the Art in the Park festival in Kennedale, Texas.  During a slow moment in sales and traffic I sat on my stool and began this work, using a small reference photo (3 x 5″).  I never thought anything significant would come of it–just passing time (festivals can become rather long when the sales taper off).  In the months following (this began in April), I took the sketch out now and then and “diddled” with it.  I thought it was finished last week, but then saw some more things in it that bothered me.  Now I’m satisfied.

I long for the next time I get to board the Durango-Silverton.  My wife and I are thinking seriously about a trip to Colorado when the Aspens start to turn.  We’ll see.

Oh well, I have another railroad composition awaiting-one that started badly.  We’ll see if anything positive can come out of that.

Thanks for reading, and happy 4th of July.

Durango-Silverton Railroad, painted at an Art Festival

April 10, 2011

Durango-Silverton Railroad

On the final day of Art in the Park in Kennedale, Texas, I began this quick watercolor sketch of one of my favorite subjects–the Durango-Silverton railroad in Colorado.  The first time I rode this train, I was seated in the rear car and was able to photograph the front section of the train repeatedly.  I have already done several watercolors of this subject, but never from this angle.  I had very little time to paint this today, as (gratefully) the festival was extremely busy with patrons and prospective buyers.  I enjoyed every conversation throughout the day, and even made special friends of a family from London, England and Aberdeen, Scotland, in the United States on a holiday.

Well, school resumes tomorrow, I am absolutely “wiped out” from the 3-day weekend festival, I have high school all day and college all night, plus I need to make a delivery to one of the patrons who purchased art that was not available in the booth.  Time for bed.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll try to post more tomorrow (when both eyes are open and focused!)

Pages from my Colorado Plein Air Journal, August 17, 2010

August 17, 2010

Pike's Peak from Garden of the Gods

Most of my blog entries are tossed in rather quickly.  But I’ve kept a journal since the late 1980’s, and tonight I thought I might go ahead and post what I wrote in my journal while on my Colorado vacation.  Following are the pages related to my Garden of the Gods plein air watercolor sketches:

August 5, 2010, 2:25 p.m.–“Today while Sandi rested and napped at the La Quinta, I met Carolye at Garden of the Gods at 7:00 a.m.  We painted three hours and produced a pair of paintings each.  Tomorrow we’ll begin around 6:00 and I’ll paint Camel’s Kiss–a huge pink rock formation with ribbons of mountain ranges behind it.”

“I jumped right into the plein air this morning.  My eye was engaged with every detail on those mountains, trees and sky colors.  I tried in earnest to match my colors to reality.  And I really studied the terrain with joy and enthusiasm.  Carolye was pleasant to visit with–totally engaged in her work.  She asked plenty of questions and I was all-too-glad to respond.  We also talked of other things.  All in all, a very pleasant morning of conversation and painting.”

“I was pleased with my two watercolor sketches.  I feel that I got the job done.  I was pleased as soon as I had ‘one painting in the box’ as I’ve heard other plein air artists say.  Words cannot capture what I feel when I’m painting en plein air. And especially today–my first Colorado mountains en plein air. I was always such a chicken shit before–taking photographs, first the 35mm and then later the digital, and still not watercoloring mountainscapes.  Well–the enthusiasm began last night as Sandi and I admired the mountain ranges along the Colorado City rest stop, and finally this morning, I did it!”

“Tomorrow, at the 6:00 a.m. Garden of the Gods excursion, I shall set up the French easel and use if for the first time.  I plan a watercolor landscape this time on a full sheet of block paper.  It will be my first endeavor, standing to watercolor at an easel.”

[O.K., there is the journal entry.  I note that there is no journal entry describing the above photo, and that is because I painted it from about 6:00-8:00 a.m., then Sandi and I dashed to the hotel to pack, check out, and drive to Denver International Airport to pick up a fishing buddy who had flown up from Arlington and arrived around 7:00 that morning.]

And finally, the last of my Vacation Posts, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010

Morning Mist at the Garden of the Gods

One last watercolor sketch–this was my second plein air work done at the Garden of the Gods on the first morning, following my initial Pike’s Peak sketch attempt.  Yesterday, while wrapping up my vacation in Lubbock, Texas, I re-worked the foreground foliage on this to try and set it off  better.

Thank you for reading.

Back Home Again; Plenty to Post, August 15, 2010

August 15, 2010

Colorado Vistas

After more than 3,000 miles of driving over twelve days, Sandi and I finally returned home late this evening.  I have plenty of watercolors to post–I managed to do seven of them during the trip.  Some have already appeared in their working stages, but today in Lubbock I put finishing touches to a number of them and thus will post them again.

My agenda in Colorado was to paint for the first time there en plein air. And my primary subject was going to be mountains.  I had hoped to paint stands of Aspen trees as well, but didn’t get that done.  If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that I did some sketches of Pike’s Peak, Crested Butte and the bluffs behind the town of Creede.  What is posted above is the result of a silly inclination that seized me on the final day that we left Colorado, with Sandi driving.  Sitting in the passenger seat, I was intoxicated at the endless passing of mountain ranges, so I giggled and pulled out my leather bag of watercolor supplies, opened a bottle of water, drew out a block, and began doing sketches of the mountain ranges as they passed us by.  I held the block in my lap and just continued to add mountain ranges, one ribbon at a time.  This is what finally emerged.  I cannot tell you where this location is, because it is the combination of ranges and meadows that I witnessed over a 3 1/2 hour drive from Almont to Salida to Canon City to Walzenburg to Trinidad to Raton Pass.  And I enjoyed every minute of the experimentation.

Thanks for reading.