Monday, August 15, 2011

Approaching Teec Nos Pos - graphite on paper

Approaching Teec Nos Pos
9x12 - graphite on sketchpad

So, today was one of those days I felt inclined to sit down and draw.   Drawing skills, aside from being an absolute necessary skill for painters, are something that I suspect many of us don't practice enough.  I'm always in awe of the artists whose blogs I follow who regularly post drawings they do, either as the beautiful loose field sketches of Sherrie Y or more detailed renderings in colored pencil, such as William (Bill) Cook.

I'm in a slight lull as far as my sense of direction goes for painting.  It's not really an artistic block, but more like being overwhelmed by the possibilities and all the things I want to accomplish.  Yesterday, we took an afternoon trip to Haviland Lake, and I brought along my gear (noting to leave the heavy French easel at home), excited about getting out to paint.  And, I painted, but it didn't go anywhere, and I felt my concentration sort of slip away as things just didn't come together.  But, that was totally okay - it was good practice to try and paint the ever-changing reflections on the lake.

Ever since we got back from AZ, I've been itching to do a new roadrtrip series based on the photos I took.  It seems that Hwy 160 is my artistic muse, always beckoning with that constantly changing landscape that draws me in every time.  I see the same features, and structures, and even creatures, on each trip, yet they never get old.  

So, I thought I'd at least dip a toe in that proverbial bathtub and do a drawing of what will be one of the first paintings in the series...whenever I decide to start them.  It is of this long sweeping stretch of highway that is just east of that small Navajo community Teec Nos Pos, and a few miles west of the actual Four Corners monument.  

The drawing thing was good.  I like it because, unlike painting, I can draw right at my computer, and listen to my favorite songs on my YouTube playlist.  After getting into "the zone", it's great.  Drawing with pencil is a very disciplined thing - you can't be lazy and use color.  It's all about value.  Since this particular image doesn't have a great deal of value range, that made it a bit difficult.    And, it took me longer to do this drawing, which isn't much to write home about, than it does to do a painting of the same size.  It was exceedingly difficult to photograph as well.  

But, it was just what I needed today.

On an unrelated note, I was delighted to find out that all 3 of the photos I entered in the county fair last week won ribbons!  And, both of the paintings took blues and reserve champions, but there weren't many entries this year, so it wasn't quite as exciting as the photography wins.

Here are two of the three photos - both entered in the "Wild Animal" category in the Adult Intermediate division:

"Melissa Blue"
10x8 inches
First Place and Reserve Champion in its category

"Bramble Hairstreak"
8x10 inches
Second Place

Both shot with my entry level Nikon D40, Nikkor 55-200mm DX AF lens, and printed at Walmart's 1 hr. photo lab.  Just in case anyone thinks it's all about having expensive DSLR's and high-end's not.


  1. Beautiful butterfly photos! I'm not surprised they were prize winners.

  2. The drawing is both sensitive and expansive at the same time.

    You carry a French easel on your hikes? I thought climbing gear was too heavy!!

    Congrats on the ribbons.

  3. Thanks, LeAnn - they were my new favorite subject to shoot this summer. And welcome back from your trip - sounds like you had a great time despite the plane ride.

    Thanks, Casey. Even though the result wasn't that great, it did make me want to start drawing more regularly...which is a good thing.

    I have 3 different plein air set-ups, and I only bring the French easel on trips where I think/assume I won't have to walk far, and where I want to stand. Hauling it 1/2 mile = not fun. I did, however, purchase a set of backpacking straps for it, which would extend somewhat the distance I'm willing to carry it, but still not on long, uphill hikes.

  4. Love the drawing Sonya, it feels like you're actually moving in the car! And WOW are your photos gorgeous. Just breathtaking. :) Can't wait to see the painting when you get to it.

  5. Sonya, I really enjoyed your post. Your drawing looks like a completed piece of art already!

    Congratulations on your wins, both for your photos and your paintings. I am certain all were deserving regardless the number of entries.

  6. Crystal - thank you so much for your sweet comments :). I like that the drawing gives you the sense of being in the moving car - I love to take photos during our road trips, and I'm almost always the passenger, which means I get a lot of them. I hope the painting turns out as compelling as the reference photo is!

    Sandy, I appreciate your comments, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post. That is very kind of you to say that about the drawing; I guess I tend to be really self-critical about my work at times.

  7. Congrats on the prize! The photos are lovely!

    Wonderful drawing. There is something about the lure of the road, isn't there? I, too, have a stack of road reference photos from all our road trips to use for future paintings. Unfortunately, I've been guilty of holding the camera up and taking photos while I am driving....

  8. Congrats on the wins! Beautiful photos, deserving of a prize! Lovely drawing too. Looks like you had a nice road trip.

  9. Thanks, Debbie! I'm not sure exactly what the allure of the road is to me, other than I have always loved road trips, ever since I was a kid - I've done many over the years. And, I think they are something everyone can relate to; most people have taken family vacations that involved long stretches of highway driving.

    Thanks Liz! Yes, the driving part of these trips is always one of the highlights of the trip itself, rather than the destination quite often (esp. if it's Phoenix - ick). I'm glad to see you posting again, too - I was wondering where you had been :).

  10. Congratulations on the ribbons Sonya. I am always envious of your photos. You take such spectacular view shots and intimate portraits too.

    I am sure that the pastel you do of this drawing will be wonderful.

  11. Ruth - thank you for your generous comments about my photos - I appreciate them very much! It brings me great joy to be able to capture the beauty of the land and its living things and share them with others.

    I'm unsure whether I'll do this drawing in oil or oils are languishing in my studio as of late. I'm looking forward to putting it in color, though.


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