Thursday, September 15, 2011

Along the Pine - pastel

Along The Pine
pastel on Strathmore 400-series charcoal paper
9x12 inches

Started last week (on the day I got sick), and finally finished and photographed.  Done at my computer with my plein air set, because I've just been too lazy to move the painting operations to my downstairs studio.

I could have titled this:  "What I would have painted if I had painted on location", because that's essentially what it is.  Over Labor Day weekend, we decided to hike/fish/paint along the Pine River, located east of town about an hour away.  In fact, the Pine River (also called "Los Pinos") trailhead is about 1/4 mile from the recent PAP4C paint-out piece I did - "Late Summer in the Pine River Valley".

I brought my streamlined plein air set-up with me (stadium chair, pastel box, foamboard with this 9x12 piece of paper taped to it) intending to paint while Wayne fished.  The Granite Peak Ranch (where we painted) is huge, and one must hike about 3 miles along the ranch easement in order to get to FS land and thus fish and camp, but luckily, the trail is is level and a really easy hike, so I didn't mind hiking the gear in that far.

Painting didn't happen - got distracted with photographing flying things, and the rapidly building monsoon clouds eventually killed the light completely.  But, I took this one photo of the river and knew I'd paint it.  I also discovered that my stadium chair is ideal for protecting my pastel box from getting soaked when hiking back in a rainstorm.

Biggest challenge was that dark forest background and trying to balance abstract shapes with just enough detail.  One thing I've noticed is that my darkity-dark-dark pastels are actually *plenty dark* for this tan paper, vs. the black Strathmore, where I was always working to get things dark enough.  Gee - who knew?  So, I found it much easier to obtain those values.

Some obligatory photos from the hike:

Unidentified flower, filterized
A section of the trail through an aspen stand
"Me and My Shadow"
A Green Comma butterfly shows off its brilliant topside colors on a dead tree

Green Comma on white thistle
With folded wings, it looks like a dead leaf - perfect camouflage! 


  1. Sonya, I really love the water in your pastels, whether it is swiftly moving or a quiet pool. It is always so wonderful. I'm glad you found a good substitute fot your paper so quickly.

  2. Looks like a great place to spend the day. Nice job on the water, I also particularly like the edge lighting on the background trees.

  3. I like your soft edges and great color. I really enjoyed your photos too.

  4. Thanks, Ruth - I really appreciate that! Water is such a challenge to paint, but I find myself drawn to it, including these complicated scenes with the underwater rocks. I'm glad it looks somewhat convincing!

    Hey Dan - thanks! Those background always do those so well, and I was thinking: "WWDD?" when I was working on them. More later in email. This piece would have been well-served using some Wallis, I think.

    Hi Sheri - thanks so much! And I'm glad you enjoyed the photos; they're sort of an integral part of the whole experience for me :).

  5. Beautiful! It reminds me of Spearfish Creek in the Black Hills of SD. I haven't been there for years.

  6. Thanks, LeAnn. I like that this painting reminds people of places they've been elsewhere in the country :).

  7. Loving your photographs, Sonya. I want to follow that path!

    The painting came out well - I can almost hear the water rushing over the rocks!

  8. Thanks, Debbie - I always like to grab at least one shot of the trail during a hike, maybe more. This area was incredibly lush green despite being on the outer edges of summer.

    I'm pleased that the effect of the shallow river running over rocks comes through in this painting.


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