Tuesday, December 28, 2021

October Sky


October Sky

15” x 11”

Watercolor + Colored Pencil

For me, there’s no greater way to spend my birthday than to pack up my watercolors or acrylics and go paint. Early October in Durango is a great time to get out and paint…the summer heat is tamed, the air has a coolness, yet the sun keeps you warm.

I was at an overlook along the Animas River when I painted this, and as you might tell from this sky, we had a storm move in that night that left us with a little snow. 

That day held one of those Colorado skies that I love, with layers upon layers of clouds—fluffy and white contrasting against water-laden bands of purple to the north. Another band of billowy clouds lay nestled between rows of ridges, while the nearby hills still showed hints of green from recent rains. The intense blue of the sky between the layers deepened as the afternoon worked its way toward day’s end.

Starting out as a watercolor, I brought this piece back to the studio and finished it with colored pencil. Don’t tell anyone, (especially the art police), but sometimes you can save a so-so watercolor with the addition of another media.

Red Arch

10” x 8”

Through my job with Great Old Broads for Wilderness, I had the opportunity to serve as the organization’s representative at a fundraising event that was a 5-day combination river trip-watercolor workshop on the San Juan River in Utah. I know, isn’t that the greatest thing ever?

I could go on and on about the trip, which was amazing. I had some anxiety beforehand, as it was my first multi-day river trip. Once I acclimated to the heat, the wind, and became “one with the sand” (as advised by a seasoned river woman), I found myself immersed in a magical landscape carved by wind and water with the most wonderful group of women you could hope to travel with.

Our watercolor instructor was the talented Suze Woolf, from whom I hoped to learn some color tricks and how to loosen up my painting. While waiting for a photo opportunity (part of my trip duties), I broke out my kit to paint the ridge to the east. This painting stayed quite loose as I was standing up, holding the paper in my hand. While compensating for the wind, I dabbed my brush into the palette balanced in the crotch of a tree, while my water container sat on the ground. (It was too damn hot to sit in the dirt.)

The cliffs jut impossibly high into the sky along parts of the river and the rock varies from smooth spans of creamy coral sandstone to black, pockmarked, and ribbed slabs of basalt. Of course, there is sand, sand, more sand, and gravel that wants to get into your sandals and chew up your feet. Crows and ravens soar above the cliffs, colorful lizards sun themselves on rocks, bighorn sheep (we saw lambs!) leap up and down ridiculously steep slopes, and feral burros bray through the night. There was no end to the visual entertainment.

We had plenty of painting time too, and while I didn’t come back with many “winners”, I learned a lot, got to know some great women, and have two or three more paintings that need finishing. More on unfinished paintings in a future post…

P.S. A big shout-out to Holiday River Expeditions, who gave us an exceptional adventure, and have the most accomplished kickass young women river guides—probably in the world.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Winter on the Mesa

Winter on the Mesa

20” X 16”
Acrylic on Canvas

Now that summer is nearly here, it’s time to share my last winter painting. One winter afternoon, we went to Mesa Verde National Park on what we thought would be a good day to avoid crowds. It wasn’t such a good day to avoid ice, though. It was sunny, but cold—and the road treacherous in the shady spots, black ice stealthy under a dusting of snow. We didn’t go as deep into the park as we’d hope to—nowhere near any of the ruins—but the landscape in the afternoon light was spectacular. We wandered a bit and enjoyed the crystal clear views along the north edge of the mesa.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Fall on Cascade Creek


Fall on Cascade Creek 

12” X 12”

Acrylic on Canvas

It was gray, with chances of snow, yet I was determined to get out and paint. Covid was surging again, and being housebound—even as a natural homebody—was starting to wear on me. It was late enough in the year that summer’s crowds were gone, so it seemed likely I would find a place that was slightly off the beaten path (in case it started to snow) where I could avoid crowds and spend some quiet time with nature.

I packed up my gear and a lunch, taking off early in the day—destination yet to be determined. As the road climbed, the colors became more intense. I pulled off at a popular stop and found there was just one other quiet group camped a few hundred feet away. It was perfect! It took me a few trips to carry my gear down to the creek, but once settled in, I was in heaven. The gray light of the day intensified the color of the leaves and the creek flowed silvery blue.

It snowed a little, but not enough to make me leave. I spent the entire day painting and soaking up the restorative scenery and occasional sun.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Between Here and There

Between Here and There

24” X 18”

Acrylic on Canvas

There’s a lot of beautiful country out there and sunset makes just about anywhere beautiful—not that this is “just anywhere.” This painting is from I photo I took somewhere outside of Kanab, Utah when traveling between Durango and Wrightwood. 

The color on the landscape helped revive us as we neared the end of a long day on the road. We pulled into Kanab just after dark, hungry and windshield weary, but glad to have enjoyed the breathtaking light show during the last few miles as the sun dropped below the horizon.