Monday, April 11, 2011


On our recent camping trip to Lone Pine, it was a paint-a-palooza for me. For a change, we didn't run hither and yon, nor hike, we just fished and relaxed in camp.

Saturday, we awoke to a sunrise of giant fluorescent-orange doughnut clouds decorating the sky over the Inyos. It was a shot of inspiration. My juices were flowing. Once we'd teased the trout a bit (not the other way around, of course) and had breakfast, I broke out my art gear. Over the next several hours, I started and nearly completed three paintings.

For the first piece, I settled on painting a small segment of the Sierra Nevada ridge to the southwest. It was a mere bump in a series on a long ridge that stepped up to Mt. Corcoran. That is truly the challenge when you work outdoors painting landscapes. There is so much to see and choose from—narrowing your focus is not always easy.

You can see here I started with a quick pencil sketch to work out the composition, noting the prominent features and shadows. I don't like to spend a lot of time on my drawing because I want the result to be fresh, plus I’m impatient to get my brush on the paper.

Ever had a day that seemed to drag on endlessly? Try drawing or painting outdoors and you'll really notice the speed of the sun rolling across the sky and the movement of the shadows (though having fun sure makes the day fly by too). Where was that shadow again? Oh crap, it's gone now.

In this next image, you can see I've come a long way, with the vegetation in the background fairly well defined. See my rock in my makeshift water container? Cool, huh?

Lower Ridge
6" X 9", Watercolor
Here is the final image, with the foreground completed and the contrast pumped up. 
Ahh, time for lunch.

For my next painting, I turned to the north towards the creek. That piece is larger and not yet complete. Although I finish some pieces on location, often, to make the best use of my time, I'll take a piece to the point where I know what I need to do to finish it without having the subject before me. I can't tell you exactly what that point is, I just know it when I get to it. Stay tuned...

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