Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Southern Utah in fall, pastel, 9x12

Fall Light in Canyonlands
9x12 inches - pastel on Artagain
© 2011, S.Johnson
Today's paint out with the Four Corners group was canceled due to rain, so it was a studio day instead.   Based on a photo taken last October during our trip to Canyonlands, it depicts a scene I absolutely love:  backlit fall color trees against shadowed canyon walls, in this case - cottonwoods.  Next to aspen, they are my favorite tree, and I really enjoy painting them.

Unfortunately, this didn't photograph very well; in real life, the slopes and cliffs of the canyon walls aren't as contrasty.  After looking at the photo, I went back down to make adjustments and realized that it was the photo...you'll just have to take my word that it does look much better in person.

I leave for Moab in a week.  Our planned trip to go tomorrow is canceled because of - bad weather.  I'm disappointed, as I'd intended for this week's trip to be a scouting trip to secure locations to paint ahead of time.  Ah well...it's not the first time lousy weather has caused plans to change, so I'll just have to go with the flow.

Test sheet of pastels on scrap of Artagain

Revised plein air set - 175 pieces of pastel goodness
NuPastel, Sennelier, Mt Vision, Unison, Richeson Handmade and Ludwig 


  1. So very pretty, Sonya. I really love the play of sunlight and shadow. You see light so beautifully. Great work!

  2. Beautiful, Sonya. Your genuine love of the land really comes through.

  3. Beautiful painting!
    Love the back lit trees and the blues in the grasses and colors around them.
    (Sorry - your blog hasn't been letting me leave comments for last week or so - I'll have to go back and try again!)

  4. The aerial perspective is very well done, and those trees are just glowing. I also think you did a very nice job with the edge lighting, creating eye movement through the picture without over-stating the highlights.

  5. Darla, thank you so much for your encouraging comments - I appreciate them!

    Thanks so much, Don. Even though I love our San Juans, my favorite landscape will always be the arid canyon country of southern Utah and northern AZ. I'm delighted that this painting captures that.

    Hi Debbie - thanks! It's amazing to me how much color exists in the desert scrub of this region - a spectrum of warm, cool and neutral greens. (re the blogger comments...I have no idea what that is about! I haven't touched the settings for posting, so it's something with Blogger)

    Dan - I always appreciate your analytical comments, because they usually point out the very issue(s) I was trying to capture, or in this case avoid (over-done highlights). I'm glad you think the aerial perspective works, because I had to do some "creative layering" to achieve it, which is not easy on this paper. So, thanks again!

  6. Sonya - I even like the test sheet of pastels...thought it was a beautiful scene of cottonwoods for a minute. Good luck with the upcoming trip.

  7. Hi Cindy - ha! I liked the sheet with all the colors together, so I thought it would be fun to include it. I'm glad you liked it as well :)!

  8. the burst of fresh colours have been captured beautifully by you in a difficult medium!

  9. Hi Sparrowhawk - so nice to hear from you! And, as I commented on your blog, watercolor is far more difficult than pastel. I appreciate your kind words about this painting :).


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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