Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Painting in the Pine River Valley - Four Corners Plein Air

So a week has passed since my last post...not really sure where the time has gone, but it took that long to get back in the groove of painting, I guess.   My sole excursion outdoors last week did net an unfinished painting, but it's not one I'm likely to bring to any conclusion.  Add to that an alarming wind gust out of nowhere that produced a wind vortex over the river (it was essentially a dust devil over water) less than 30 feet from my easel was so unnerving that I couldn't finish on location if I wanted to.

Today was the biweekly paint-out for the 4CPAP group, and I decided that I would go and that perhaps I could get my mojo back.
Late Summer in the Pine River Valley
12x12 inches - pastel on black Strathmore
© 2011, S.Johnson

Location was well east of Durango, on a huge private ranch located in an area known as the Pine River Valley.  East of Vallecito Lake, along a FS road and tucked away from civilization, it's incredibly scenic.     The granite peaks and valley layout have tones of the Sierras.

It took me probably 20 minutes to settle on a location to paint.  Not only from being overwhelmed with choices, but at the time we arrived at this location, it was in full shade, which I found unappealing to paint.  Despite the presence of a charming little creek running right near the road, I decided that I'd beg off painting water for a bit, and decided to paint this mountain peak.   As is often the case, the dirt road clinched the deal.  The slope to the right was in full shadow, as was the left side of the granite peak.

Monsoon season is still in full throttle here in southwestern CO, and while the sky was initially clear when I set up, clouds soon started developing, and I couldn't resist adding some.  

What the sky looked like around 12:30 PM - yikes!
Thankfully, I was finished by this time

As usual, the group offered up some good suggestions during the critique session, so I came home and made a few adjustments and reworked the blue spruce trees in the middle ground, added some more yellow to the foreground grasses, and called it done.

A few more photos taken from the area where many of us painted:


  1. Very nice. Looks like it was a fun excursion.

  2. Thanks Liz - as you know, it's always good to get together with a group of artists.

  3. Your "Mojo" is on track beautiful painting...

  4. Thank you Jo Ann - the painting seems to be coming in bits and spurts, but I'll take the successful one where I can get it!

  5. That looks like Granite Peak Ranch (for those who don't live here), where the Pine River trail begins (or ends, depending on which way your headed!). So glad your getting your mojo back, I am too, it's the seasonal late summer blahs I think.

  6. Sarah - it is indeed Granite Peak Ranch! I knew you'd know it and recognize it. The place is amazing!


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