Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunset on the Inyos

Sunset on the Inyos
6" X 9", Watercolor and Sepia Ink

After a giant trout spit my hook, I went back to camp and discovered the incredible color on the Inyo Mountains across the valley. I rushed to the car to get out my painting gear; the light moves fast and I wanted to capture it before it was gone.

Unfortunately, my water cup, complements of some Holiday Inn, had sprung a leak. Frantically I looked around for something to put water in besides my coffee cup. Sweet husband came to the rescue, cutting a water bottle in half AND supplying a rock to keep the vessel from blowing away in the sundowner breeze that had kicked up.

The Inyo Mountains frame the eastern side of the Owens Valley. To the west lie the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Yang to the Sierra’s Yin, from a distance the Inyos are unassumingly brown and dusty, old saddle shoes that gladly take what’s left of the moisture dropped by the storms that move through. Up close and personal, they are rugged and richly diverse. They are forested with piƱon pines, juniper, and cactus, with a generous sprinkling of sturdy wildflowers. Further north at higher elevations, you’ll find the breathtaking Bristlecone Forest.

In the middle of the day, the Inyos appear bleached out and flat as a cardboard set for a puppet show. As the sun moves to the west, the ridge comes alive with graceful shapes that emerge once defined by lavender blue shadows. Then, as the sun drops behind the Sierra, there is an intense display of rusts and corals, and the shadows cool to a deep purple.

By the time I got my gear out, the shadows had climbed up the ridge, leaving just the tops lit by the sun. Fighting the wind, I painted wildly to capture colors I’d seen just minutes earlier. It was lovely.

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