Monday, October 24, 2011

Animas River, rocks and reflections SOLD

River Rocks and Fall Reflections
12x9 inches - pastel on Artagain
© S.Johnson
Yesterday's painting, done along the east side of the Animas about 1/4 of a mile up river from our location on Friday, and a new location for me.  We went there at Pat's suggestion, and while both of us were initially drawn to this amazing pair of cottonwoods on the opposite side of the river in backlit fall light, I found couldn't make the composition work, so I moved downstream a bit, and when I saw this big boulder its coterie of smaller rocks, and the reflection, my first thought was: "fun!", so I was compelled to paint it.

Care to guess what the most difficult part of this painting was?  Hint:  not the water or reflections, which I find pretty easy to paint.  It was actually the grouping of rocks in front of the boulder.  As I set about to block them in, I was thinking:  "must avoid cloning rocks", but that's exactly what started to happen.  Basically, the left brain came in and tried to over-ride operations for this part of the painting...and sort of succeeded.

The light faded before I had time to address this on location, so I tinkered with them in the studio this morning.  An improvement, but could be better.  Another thing to work on...

We are supposed to have a system move through tomorrow that will bring rain and much colder temps for a couple of days, so my plein air bender is coming to a close.  So, it will be back to the studio for a bit.


  1. This is definitely my favorite from your fall PAs. The little ripples in the foreground are perfect, they don't attract undue attention, but really add interest -- a great touch for adding depth to the picture plane.

  2. Very effective pastel, Sonya. I am the world's worst rock cloner - I like your description of that phenomenon.

  3. Thanks, Dan. I honestly wasn't sure anyone would like it but me, but since I don't paint for anyone but me, I just went with it. It's the time I got to the bottom of the painting, I wasn't using my viewfinder anymore, and honestly, I don't even know if that close part of the shore was "supposed" to be there, but I liked it, so in it went. Plus, my paper handles the light scumbling technique I used for those ripples really well, so that was the easiest part of the painting. After I put that in, I realized that it really did add a lot to the painting as you said.

    Thanks, Casey, I'm glad you think so. Yesterday, Pat and I were discussing how difficult it is to paint rocks (though the big one was easy and fun to do), and I think they, along with trees, are the hardest elements of the landscape to not reproduce as a left brain stored image. It's one of the things that keeps on our toes, so to speak.

  4. Loving this, brave of you to tackle one biggie, nevermind the babies. Just finished a year's worth of painting rocks (stones) and so really love seeing other's work on the subject. Very nice.

  5. Thanks, Cindy - rocks are quite a subject to try and paint, aren't they? I enjoyed looking at your recent paintings of rocks, and I really like all the bright colors you used. I think the only way I can break out of using "local color" is to paint from a grayscale photograph! It just doesn't happen when I'm painting on location...

  6. nice job on painting the rocks and the reflection on the water is great..nice job! thanks for sharing this painting...

  7. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Daniel - I appreciate it!

  8. Love this one! Looks like it would be really difficult to paint. Wonderful depth - and the reflections are just amazing!

  9. Thanks Debbie - save for the small rocks that I mentioned, it was actually pretty easy to paint. Reflections really aren't that difficult to do once you remember that you are not painting "reflections" or "water", but just interlocking abstract shapes of different colors. If match them okay in terms of color and value - viola: you have reflections!


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