Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fading Light - pastel

Number three in the Impressions of Winter series was begun two days ago, but I decided to split it into two sessions.  While waiting for that to dry, I started this piece, in pastel, yesterday late afternoon and finished it up this morning...before our snowshoeing trip, so at least I'd have something to post today.

Unlike my Four Corners roadtrip series, which was purposely done in sequence, this series is not.  I started out with what I thought would be the simplest image to paint and have been choosing references based on what appeals to me at that moment.

Having been working in oils now for the past 3 1/2 months almost exclusively, returning to pastel seemed so...easy?  If not for the more detailed graphite drawing and alcohol wash underpainting, this would have come together even quicker than it did.

More fun with shadows here.  This piece reminded me of why I love pastels:  their immediacy and ability to layer without waiting for anything to dry.  And snow is really a blast to paint in pastels.

Fading Light
pastel on Wallis sanded paper - 9x12

Snow is really the magical transformer of the land and the elements within.  Its effect on mountains is, of course, stating the obvious.  But, it makes for a glorious addition to sandstone.

Another thing it does is distill and simplify.  Needless detail is eliminated.  Elements of the land emerge as abstract shapes, and there is more contrast of values.  I think this is one reason why winter scenes are so compelling and popular to paint; I am seeing them show up on so many blogs lately, and the work is just fantastic!

Speaking of simplification, here are a few photos from today's snowshoeing trip near Molas Lake, shot with W's new Nikon Coolpix that I commandeered as I decided to leave my D40 at home today.  We hiked the section of the Colorado Trail that passes through, and we did end up catching part of it today.  It's just amazing how the land is transformed, and is hardly recognizable in many ways.  

Embracing aspen and shadows
Aspen are one of the few trees that are simply beautiful no matter what the season.  I think I have an obsession with them...and the shadows they cast on snow.

The Grenadier Range to the east

Zen Tree
The essence of transformation.   The little critter tracks everywhere fascinate me.

Molas Creek
As seen near the section of the Colorado Trail, and looking back towards the rock outcropping where the second photo was taken.  


  1. Beautiful winter photos along The Colorado Trail. Thanks for posting. Connect anytime...

    Bill Manning, The Colorado Trail Foundation

  2. Beautiful color in that pastel.

    And I love the very zen winter photos.

  3. Beautiful pastel the soft colors.

  4. Bill - thanks for dropping by again! I don't know if you'll see this, but feel free to use any of the CT photos on my blog on your website...I have dozens more taken over the past 6 months we've been here.

    Jala - thanks! I had a feeling some of these would appeal to your aesthetic sense ;). I see these neat abstract patterns and compositions, and think: "Jala would love this!"

    Hilda - thank you so much for your comment!

  5. Love the pastel and the photos, especially the little zen tree. I've been seeing alot of winter landscape posts too:-)

  6. Thanks, Liz! Isn't the Zen tree cool? I love minimalist type images like that, and when I can take/make them myself, it's even better :).


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

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