Friday, October 15, 2010

Aspen in Black - #7 & 8

After a day immersed in the beauty of Canyonlands NP, hiking, driving and taking hundreds of photos, I'm back to studio work.

Two more of the aspen series.  Different black acrylic paint here - chalkboard paint - after I ran out of the existing black acrylic paint.  I figured that if it were used to create chalkboards, it might have some grit or at least a more matte finish to it.  The dried surface was actually pretty slick, leading me to wonder if it would even hold pastel at all.  It does, but it's not what I'd hoped for.  Plus, it required two coats to adequately darken the paper.

I'm not overly thrilled with either of these; the second is a re-do of the "Fail." piece posted a few days ago.  However, despite that, the practice painting trees was useful, so they were definitely not a waste of time.   Even a failed painting is practice and a learning experience, and the path to better paintings in the future; I think as artists we have to remind ourselves of that, and be okay with the fact that not everything that we create works the way we anticipated it would.

Also, if you're the teacher who left the comment that for some reason went into the "moderate" box, I apologize:  I hit "publish comment", but it never showed up under the post it was linked to.  Thank you for the comment, and I'm glad these aspen paintings are an inspiration for you to use with your students!

Aspen #7
12x9 inches
pastel on black toned w/c paper

Aspen #8

Here are a few images from our trip to Canyonlands NP.  For those that haven't been there, it's composed of three "districts"- the Needles; the Maze and the Island in the Sky.  The Needles district is to the east, and bordered by the Colorado River, and is probably the most popular/visited district of the park, and where we spent this visit.  

It is like Disneyland for hikers, backpackers and geology nerds, so I was in heaven.  I decided it is now my second favorite canyon area behind the Grand Canyon.   It only edges out Zion NP because of the scope and size.  

A view to the northeast along Hwy 211 towards the park.  Red Wingate sandstone forming an imposing vertical cliff is topped with a horizontal bed of Kayenta sandstone, and overlies a slope of Chinle formation.  

Continuing west along the highway.

A colorful cottonwood within a wash amongst the fanciful eroded forms of Cedar Mesa sandstone within the park.

A view to the north along the short Slickrock Trail loop hike, showing the La Sal mountains in the distance.

Another view along the trail, with the view to the west.  Mid-day light is a buzzkill for great photos, but this gives you a sense of the amazing landscape.


  1. These pastels are actually lovely, you should be happy with them. (Don't you like how people tell you how you *should* feel?)
    I have been to Canyonlands and also Arches NP. Fantastic and fantastical places. Came very close to getting lost and becoming crow fodder in Canyonlands with a boyfriend in that era.

  2. Hi Jala - thanks, as always, for your visit and comments. Sometimes, to use the oft-used phrase "it's hard to see the forest through the trees", that's how I feel about my art: only the bad elements stand out. There've been plenty of times I've seen someone hate their own painting, yet I love it, which makes me laugh.

    re Canyonlands: the concept of getting lost (very easily!) there is what is both appealing and scary about it. The Maze district is apparently one of the most remote places in the country, and is notoriously easy to get lost in (hence the name, I guess). In most of that park, if you get really lost, you're screwed (and crow fodder).

  3. Just found this quote and liked it: ‎"A painting is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places." Paul Gardner... maybe the "failed re-do" just stopped in 2 interesting places...

    Love the colors.

  4. Hi Liz - that's a great quote! I've also heard paintings described as abandoned rather than finished, which seems apropos, since there is always *more* that one could do to a painting. Our skill as artists comes from knowing when to stop or abandon the painting, I think ;).

    I keep doing these because the bright colors and simple shapes make me happy. I'm glad others like them as well.


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