Monday, October 18, 2010

Four Corners & Colorado Plateau series - #20, 21 & 22

Back to the oils today.  And, the last two I'll do on the canvas paper - it was just a tedious chore to try and get any wet-in-wet work done; the paint layers were tacky within minutes of going on the paper, so it seemed like a fight between myself, the oils and the paper.

Out of frustration, I decided I'd at least try and get the first layer/underpainting done on the next in the series, using OMS-thinned washes of the existing paints on one of the primed canvas boards I have.  Paint went on much easier and even with the thin layers, allowed for blending.  So, there you have it:  canvas paper pads (Strathmore) = exercise in frustration.  No mas.

At this point in the road trip,  Hwy 160 terminates on Hwy 89, which runs N-S, south to Flagstaff and north through some small towns in the Navajo Nation (Gap and Bitter Springs), splitting to Hwy's 89 and 89A, which lead to Page & southern UT, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon, respectively.

It is an incredibly scenic drive, and starts at the 160 junction in the Chinle formation, more commonly known as the Painted Desert.  This Triassic period rock, created from colorful mudstones from Mesozoic-era river sediments, forms flattened hills and slopes.  Once its overlying harder rock layer (Wingate sandstone) is worn off, the Chinle formation quickly erodes away.

Painted Desert Intro
6x8 inches - canvas paper
Initially, the hills are separated from the road by a wash with sagebrush and other high desert vegetation

Painted Desert #1
6x8 inches - canvas paper
As we head north, the Chinle slopes cover more of the landscape and their mauve, yellow and red layers line the highway.  I love the abstracted shapes and contours they form.

underpainting for Painted Desert #2
9x12 inches
canvas on board

Photo taken indoors with a flash...

Here are a few photos from the sky this afternoon - we had clouds and rain throughout the day, and some snow was visible on the highest peaks of the La Platas northwest of town.


  1. The photos of the sky are wonderful - like the paintings too!

  2. Hi Helen - thanks! The view off our deck has offered countless stunning views in the ~3 months that we've been here; storms frequently build to the northwest. It's hard to tell in the first photo, but Perins Peak is in full fall colors - rich browns and dark oranges from the oak along the slopes.

  3. These paintings are really great, Sonya! I am having fun following your blog.

  4. Hi Casey - thanks, as always, for your visits and comments :). It has been a fun, yet challenging, exercise to transform these snapshot images into meaningful paintings that hopefully give viewers a bit of the emotive sense I feel about this landscape, and share the journey with them.

    Thanks again for your suggestion to paint bigger - larger canvases cut eliminate at least one level of frustration!


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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