Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Late Afternoon Storm - plein air, pastel, 12x12 inches

Late Afternoon Storm
12x12" - pastel on Strathmore
©2011 S.Johnson

Yesterday was a restless sort of day, and my intentions to paint in the morning, or at least before the storms were due to kick in, yet again didn't materialize.  By the time I made the decision to go out and paint, clouds were filling the sky, and painting outdoors seemed like a dicey proposition.

But, no matter - I headed down to my favorite location along the Animas, intending to paint the river rapids, or maybe the cottonwood tree across the way.   Nothing was working, even my nice shaded location right along the river:  no sooner did I set my chair down, than some large red ants started crawling on my shoes, clearly perturbed.  When one stung me, that was it.  Gear slung back over my shoulder, I wandered aimlessly around, and even crossed the river to a small singletrack trail that looks down upon it from the east.

By this time, the problem wasn't insect-related, but that the impending storm was closer and I was now hearing thunder.  With some reluctance, I decided my trip was for not, and started back to Santa Rita park.

Upon reaching the grassy (and ant-free) area of the park, I looked back and saw this most glorious cloud!    It was in a shape resembling the African continent, and all sorts of fun things were happening with it.  The car was about 30' away, so getting out of the rain in a hurry wasn't a problem, so I threw down my chair and got busy painting.

Needless to say, by the time I was finished, the cloud had morphed into a huge mass, having long since merged with the cloud on the left.  One of these days, I'm going to set my tripod up and get a series of photos of these clouds to turn into an animated .gif file.  It's really something else to watch them change.

When painting clouds from life, I have pretty much abandoned any idea of getting something that is compositionally very good; the clouds just don't wait for anything.  But, the neat thing is that you can keep changing things about your painting as you go - like adding the virga - which lasted for maybe 5 min.

Some photos shot today:

From the deck

Perins Peak from the deck

From the flower bed across the street...

We are leaving for AZ tomorrow morning - Phx to visit family and then Flagstaff to visit friends.
A day trip to the Grand Canyon is planned...
Occasional internet access, maybe, but no ability to post to the blog.  So, I'll try and do a couple to post while I'm gone, of photos from recent outings and such.


  1. I think that was the same cloud I was watching yesterday. You really caught this scene. I wanted to paint it but by the time I got home it was a monstrosity and not as interesting. Great job!

  2. Thanks, Susan. Yeah, it started out very neat, but by the time I finished, it was a large, solid gray monstrosity (apt description).

    Oddly, we haven't been getting as much rain here in town as all the clouds would suggest we should be.

  3. Hi LeAnn - aren't they? I love pansies! They are sort of an antidote to the dark, brooding skies. Ironically, the photos were taken under the very same skies, which is the best time to photograph flowers outdoors.

  4. Wonderful cloud image. I love the vertical counter pose - awesome!

  5. Thanks Casey! It was a challenge to paint, for sure, but I was happy with the end result, all things considered.


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