Monday, October 3, 2011

Plein air and studio pastels - practice for Moab

Ranch Near Lavender Canyon
pastel on black Artagain - 9x12 inches
© S.Johnson
A quick studio piece started on Saturday, based on a photo taken last October on our first trip to Canyonlands.  The area east of Canyonlands NP was homesteaded back in the mid 1800's, and as you drive along the road leading to the park, most of the ranch properties are still there and inhabited, including this one.  

In preparation for Plein Air Moab, I'm completely revamping my plein air pastel set to switch from a summer Rocky Mountain palette to a "fall in Utah canyon country" set, which is - not surprisingly - quite different.  Pastels that don't work on the black paper are getting put back in the large studio trays and I'm revisiting others I haven't used much in the past, which is kind of cool.

I spent a good part of yesterday preparing my panels and frames for the event, which turned out to be somewhat time-consuming.  I'll post photos later.

Anyway, here's a plein air done on Saturday afternoon, further down La Plata Canyon Rd.  It is right across from the parking lot where the PAP4C met on Tuesday to do the group critique.  I saw this small cabin tucked between aspen coming into fall color, and knew I had to paint it:

Canyon Cabin
pastel on Artagain - 12x9 inches
© S.Johnson
It's not going to go down as a favorite PA piece, but the effort was satisfactory nonetheless.  I got most of it finished in 70 minutes on location, and did some minor tweaking back home.

So, both radically different landscape paintings here, both as part of getting ready for Moab.  Today will be another studio Utah piece, and tomorrow is another trip with the Four Corners group.  Then, Wed, Wayne and I go to Moab for an overnight trip and two solid days of hiking (and, for me, casing for locations to paint the following week).

Should be a busy few days!


  1. I really love your PA work, Sonya. So lively and fresh! I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip. I am already looking forward to seeing your photos! Take care.

  2. Thanks so much, Darla - I appreciate your comments. It looks like we'll be skipping our trip to Moab this Wed because there is a 70% chance of cold rain and wind on Thursday...:(. Hopefully, it clears up by next Tuesday when I go up for the PA event!

  3. You're coming to Utah!! Cool!! Too bad it's way down in Moab, it would be cool to meet up. But that's like five hours away from me!

    I really love the sky and clouds and the texture of the trees. Your work is so lovely Sonya. :)

  4. Beautiful area of country you live in, I'm sure you will never run out of wonderful scenery to paint. Lovely paintings!

  5. Hi Crystal - yes, I'm so excited to return to Utah's beautiful canyon country! I didn't realize you lived in Utah; for some reason, I thought you were in Washington. You must live in the greater SLC area, then? Whenever it is that I find myself in that area, I will give you a shout.

    Thanks so much, Diana for stopping by and commenting. I'm blessed to live in this part of the country - a wide variety of landscapes that I never grow tired of.

    Thanks LeAnn - the aspen are always the stars of fall here in CO.

  6. Beautiful pastels, both of them. Look forward to seeing your UT PA posts!

  7. Thanks, Liz. We had to cancel our Moab trip tomorrow due to poor weather, but so far, it sounds like it will be clear by next Monday and hopefully through the rest of the week when I'm there.


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