Along the Florida
pastel on black Strathmore
Today's trip was to Lemon Reservoir, which is about 15 miles east of Durango, along the same road that leads to Vallecito Reservoir. The Florida river (pronounced Floor-EE-da) runs down from the mountains and into the reservoir, and there is a day use area with lots of parking right where it enters, which was ideal.
I was lucky to sit in the shade of some cottonwood trees to paint this view looking upstream. Decided to try a square format for it, partially for grins, and partially because I didn't have any sheets trimmed to the usual 9x12. I think it worked pretty well, although I see I need to adjust the right shoreline a bit...it is a bit too sloped.
After I finished, I wandered back up and decided to do a view of the lake itself, using the 1:2 format boards, which I'm totally into now:
Looking Across Lemon
pastel on 4-ply board with Golden pumice/black acrylic ground
The dam of the reservoir is situated in the left 1/3 of the painting (purposely), right behind the tip of the pine-covered slope. I liked the group of rocks in the foreground and the solo shoreline tree on the right bank, so I kept those in the painting. The grassy meadows were so many different shades of greens, with reddish-brown grasses, which required some creativity to render with my plein air palette.
And, now, more reasons to always carry one's camera on these painting trips...
While driving down the dirt road, which follows the eastern shore of the lake, to this location, I encountered a most unusual site:
"Where is mom?"
Sheep! A herd of a few hundred, at least. Ewes and lambs were pouring off the side of the hill and onto the road, right before the dam. They were slowly heading in the same direction I was. I shot a few photos from my car window while waiting for the stream of ovines to break so I could continue on.
After I finished the first painting, I took a break and walked around with my camera before heading back up to the main parking area, and I noticed this Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia), running back and forth down to the edge of the river. What a cute little thing he is:
Tons of butterflies, but I only got photos of two:
Common Branded skipper
Unidentified - a Frittilary species? - on one of the many species of fleabane daisies
About the time I was heading up with my gear, I heard the unmistakable sounds of...sheep! In the 1-2 hrs. that I'd passed them, the herd had caught up. Some had wandered down the trail and were grazing right by the lake:
At the parking area, which is separated from the dirt road by a grassy field, this is what we see:
I had no idea there were this many sheep in CO
And, now, following up behind to keep everything in order and moving - a Border Collie:
Along with a Great Pyreneese following up the rear:
And finally...one of the three sheepherders, as the flock disappeared up the road:
Honestly, this is a big part of the reason I enjoy the plein air trips. The wildlife, butterflies, and the unexpected events like these sheep just add to the experience, and I'd have missed all of it if I decided to stay inside and paint.
Of course, I love taking these photos, and sharing them with you all. I hope you enjoy them, and the story that goes with them.