Monday, July 25, 2011

Shoreline - pastel, plein air, 12x12 inches

Another of the pieces done on location and finished up in the studio:

12x12 inches - pastel on Strathmore
©2011 Sonya Johnson

This was painted last Friday, I believe, during a fishing/painting trip to Haviland Lake.  Back in mid-May, we'd hiked to the north end of the lake to a small and somewhat secluded peninsula away from the main shore that all the campers and most fishermen use, and it didn't seem that, I decided to bring my french easel along for this trip.  However, after hauling it over 1/2 mile from the parking lot and across a good section of large broken rock, I was less enthusiastic about my decision and my shoulder and hand were nice and fatigued by the time we arrived to the location.

However, it took me pretty much no time at all to settle on this view - this small extension with its rocks, lots of neat grasses and reeds, and of course the lake reflections.  The distal shore has a slope of pine-fir-spruce to the left that transitions to a flat open area with some scattered pines and the distal Hermosa Cliffs and their aspen-covered slopes.  

I was thankful I'd put the Terry Ludwig dark eggplant (V100) pastel stick in my plein air box, because it's one of the few dark pastels I have to use for deep shadows (and I can see why so many pastelists find it an indispensable part of their palette).  I ended up finishing up the conifers in my studio, and did some touch-ups on the reeds and water reflection.  

I'm not sure the blue on the right side of the lake reads properly, but that's what was going on - small ripples were producing these sky blue bands and the bottom wasn't visible at all.  If this was sanded paper, I could keep tinkering with them until they looked right, but it isn't and thus my ability to make adjustments is a bit limited.  I already adjusted them twice (and reshot the photo just before I started this post), but I don't think it helped.  

I've wanted a hummingbird feeder ever since we've lived in Durango, and in June, I bought a couple of inexpensive feeders.  It's been a few weeks, and now the little birds have been visiting the one off our lower deck regularly.  Of course, one of my ulterior motives was having them for photographic subjects. So, there will no doubt be periodic pictures of little hummers showing up here from time to time.  

They are so entertaining and fascinating to watch, and quite frankly, just plain cute.  I can't identify this species from my Audubon field guide, unfortunately.

Here are a few from the other day:

Having a look inside
This one was literally right outside the door, perhaps 2' away, and hovered long enough for me to get this photo.  What I like about this photo (aside from the unique perspective) is that the directional motion of the wings is visible - they appear to be moving in a figure-8.

Having a drink
How these birds manage to live on nothing but sugar water is amazing to me

Taking a break
The birds seem to use the little perches maybe 1/3 of the time during their visits.  A few will just sit for close to a minute, either feeding or just sitting and looking around


  1. I think the blues in the water are working well. You recorded them as you saw them. These laconic natures studies are so nice because of this--the inaccuracies are part of their charm. They're not photographs. They're not supposed to be. I see your hand and your silent decision making, and the time spent. This I appreciate.

    Great piece.

  2. Love the shoreline--reminds me of home. (I grew up in Lake County, SD.)

    And your hummingbird photos are amazing.

  3. love this painting! great idea about the hummingbird feeder. too.

  4. Hi Bill - I always enjoy your thoughtful, insightful posts. Your comment makes me realize that one of the things I am really loving about these plein air outings is the quiet, contemplative time I spend - both on the painting and just in the moment. Thanks as always for your words.

    Hi LeAnn - thank you! I do think a painting like this has no geographic bounds; it is symbolic of places many, if not most, people can relate to. I'm glad it reminds you of home :).

    Hi Susie - thanks for stopping by and commenting; I appreciate it!

  5. Don't you love the hummingbirds? They are so fun to watch! Great pictures!

    Lovely painting. I especially like the area near the shore - the transparency of the water there versus the area where the light reflects. Very nicely done!

  6. Thanks, Debbie - I was really drawn to the shallow area of the lake near the shore in contrast to the deeper areas of reflections, so I'm pleased you appreciate that aspect of the painting :).

    Agree about the hummingbirds - the feeder is rather cheap entertainment along with providing a resource for the birds, so it's a win-win.


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

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