Saturday, April 16, 2011

Comb Ridge & Butler Wash road - pastel painting

"Towards Comb Ridge"
9x12 inches
pastel on 90# w/c paper

This started out as a quick study a few days ago and I finally tinkered with it a bit more today to finish it.   It was one of those "spontaneous" choices for a subject:  the road, of course, and my attempt to render the monocline of Comb Ridge as simple, abstract shapes with contours of the sandstone defined by the lines of juniper scrub growing along them.  The neutral, earthy palette doesn't give much in the way of strong values or contrasts, which is why I didn't use this before.  It was more an excuse to paint a road and just try to depict those glorious uplifted slabs of sedimentary rock where the glorious remains of a culture long since passed are tucked away.

It originally started out as a loose (read:  crude) watercolor painting, which morphed into the underpainting for a pastel.  Prior to applying the pastel, I used a sanding pad to vigorously scrub the surface to remove more texture from the paper.


A few more photos from our trip to the Cedar Mesa area:

Road just west of the Comb, en route to Cedar Mesa
This will definitely end up as a painting one day, and hopefully, much better than this photo

Precarious position
A large balanced rock on the trail in South Mule Canyon on Cedar Mesa

House on Fire ruin - our destination
Mid-morning reflected light produces a beautiful orange-yellow glow on the distinctly eroded sandstone roof, giving these ruins their informal name.   It is absolutely stunning!

Roadside Kiva
A well-preserved ceremonial kiva and the crumbling ruins of the small pueblo-style dwelling behind it are located right off the highway through Cedar Mesa


  1. Very fun, and good depth. Makes me think that I need to get out and paint outdoors!

  2. Thanks, Casey; it was fun to do, probably because I had low expectations. That's helpful sometimes.

    It is finally getting warm enough to start painting outdoors, and I'm excited to head out when it's not windy and go at it! I hope the weather is finally warming up in your area so you can head out of your studio as well.

  3. Beautiful pastel. Love the colors. Also, house on fire is amazing.

  4. Thanks Liz - I seem to be all over the place as far as subjects, media and such go, but it keeps me from getting in a rut.

    And yes, the House on Fire ruin was absolutely amazing! I love everything related to these ancestral inhabitants of the region.

  5. Windy weather is a huge pain for me. I dumped a big box of pastels the last time I went out. I needed that to remind me - don't go on a windy day!

  6. Casey, that is awful! My nightmare with pastels: dumping a box and having them shatter into the dirt...

    I've had wind ruin so many things (running, camping, hiking, backpacking, etc.) that it is the one weather event I detest. The rest I can deal with. Right now, the wind is kicking up my allergies, which is another thing I can't stand about it.

  7. Comb Ridge & Butler Wash road painting is great!...Daniel

  8. Nice painting! I like the "Towards Comb Ridge".. By the way, If u have time, drop by my painting blog. Thanks!.. .daniel

  9. That "house on fire" is freaking me out! Wow!
    I like the palette in this pastel.
    I think that next road photo is going to make an excellent painting. Value-wise, it's very strong.

  10. Hi Jala - isn't that ruin just so cool? I just love it!
    The strong values and abstract shapes are why I want to paint that road photo; the problem with many of the photos I took on the trip, including the one I used for the painting above, is that they are mostly mid-value. Not very interesting to paint.


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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...