Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Aspen on Black #9, and fall color photos

I got a late start today, so only one aspen painting finished.  The surface for this was a mix of the acrylic chalkboard paint and Golden fine pumice ground, applied in two coats to the w/c paper.  It was the best so far of the black surfaces I've worked on for this series; the pumice ground really helped improve the tooth.

For those interested in making your own black surface, here is the method I used:

- approximately 1:1 mix of acrylic paint and Golden pumice ground mixed in small container.  I have a spray bottle, so I added enough water to thin the paint to a thick spreadable consistency; adding too much water will result in more than two layers required.

- tape watercolor paper to masonite board or other hard surface with blue or pale yellow masking tape (made for going around corners; its adhesive isn't as robust as regular masking tape, making it easier to remove), leaving a 1/4" border on each side.

- using a 1" el-cheapo house painting brush, apply in linear strokes to cover the paper with an even layer of the acrylic/pumice mix, insuring that the entire surface is covered.  Let dry.

- apply a second layer, either perpendicular to the first or in the same direction.  Let dry.

- once paper is completely dry and the tape is removed, there may still be some curling of the paper.   I then place them between the pages of a heavy book for the rest of the day to completely flatten the sheets.  They're ready to go the next day.

Aspen #9
12x9 inches

The fall colors here in the Durango area are pretty much at their peak now - that includes the cottonwood and various species of oak that cover the hillsides of the mesas surrounding town.  One of my favorite locations to go for photos is out by the town of Hesperus, out towards La Plata Cyn.  We first went there last summer on our trip out here, and again shortly after we moved to town.   

Here are some photos from that drive, including two from the road south that leads to Farmington, NM.  I will be going back there probably tomorrow during better light to get more photos of the road to the south - the cottonwoods and other river trees were stunning!

Towards La Plata Canyon.

          Waxing moon over oak-covered hillside.

Clouds to the east, and rich browns and yellows of fall foliage.

Aspen, spruce and oak.

Sunset sky near New Mexico.

Approaching twilight.


  1. More great views! You live in a magical place. The painting is nice too. Will tell my husband about the black surface - sounds very technical - not sure he's up to it!

  2. Thanks, Helen :) After spending the past 3 1/2 years in CT, I am just overjoyed to be back in the southwest, which has always been what I'd call my spiritual homeland. I wake up every day, grateful that I live in such beautiful country. I'm glad you enjoy these photos.

    And, the black paper is really, really easy to make - it's just mixing up some grit with paint plus water, and just making sure the surface is evenly painted. I probably detailed it out more than was necessary, but that was a necessity in my previous life [as a physician], and old habits die hard, I guess :).


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