Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Prelude to Winter: La Plata Canyon

After working on the sanded black board for yesterday's pastel, I decided to do a piece that I've had in mind for a while now, on the same surface, but in a 1:2 format I've been really wanting to try.  So, I'm sneaking it in between the winter series.

It's based on a photo taken right after one of our early snows, as we were heading out for our Arches trip in October, looking towards La Plata Canyon along Hwy 160.  Fall colors have faded, leaving large patchworks of bare aspen interspersed with stands of evergreen spruce and fir.  The grasses of the meadows leading into the canyon area have turned shades of golden and earthy brown.  The road to La Plata Cyn follows the row of cottonwoods, and one of the handful of ranches off the road can be seen.

Consulting a local map, I believe that one of the distal peaks may be Hesperus Mountain, the tallest of this group in the La Platas.  Hesperus is Latin for "evening star", and it has significance as being one of the four Sacred Mountains to the Navajo people.

A Prelude to Winter:  La Plata Canyon
pastel on black-toned archival board 
10 x 20 inches

And a photo of the waning gibbous moon, taken earlier this morning, before it passed behind the crest of Smelter Mtn:


  1. Photo and painting are great! In fact painting looks like it could be a photo - how do you do that?

  2. Hi Helen - thanks! It's interesting you say that about the painting looking like a photo, since I try to avoid painting in an overly realistic manner (that is, with lots of detail and being faithful to the reference photo). I do try to match the local colors as best I can, though :).

  3. Perfect format for that pastel, and wonderful color play with the ochre and plum colors.
    And I of course LOVE the photo!!

  4. Thanks, Jala - I am totally digging this format! It is well-suited to our amazing western and southwestern landscapes. I was considering scumbling some of the umber/ochre over the purples to harmonize them better; I wasn't completely sure the colors worked.

    I knew you'd like the photo ;). I have a moon fixation, I think.


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