12x16 inches - pastel on black construction paper
Anyway, our trip was great, as expected. It's just hard to go wrong with any hikes in the area, and I we had sort of planned the areas we wanted to hike, based on what I did and didn't get a chance to do when I was in town for the plein air event. On Thursday, we drove out Hwy 128 to hike Fisher Towers, which is about 24 miles east of Moab. I hadn't made it quite that far east when I was out for the plein air event.
Yesterday, temperatures were about 20 degrees warmer and no wind was predicted until later in the afternoon. Having spent a lot of time exploring Kane Creek Rd during my last visit, I suggested we drive down Hwy 279, which follows the Colorado south and west of Moab, and specifically go hike the trail to Corona Arch, which is also short (~3 mi RT). Actually, it's a two-fer, since it is right next to Bowtie Arch.
Most people are familiar with the arches in Arches NP, of which there are many. Delicate Arch is arguably the most well-known arch in the country, having achieved iconic status as the symbol on Utah's license plate. It is well-deserving of awe as possibly the only free-standing arch in the world, as is Landscape Arch, which is one of the longest spanning arches in the world.
The arches outside the park don't get nearly the attention or the visitors that those inside the park do, which is actually perfectly fine by me. The hike to Corona and Bowtie arches was by far one of the most scenic hikes we've done in the area, and then there are the arches themselves. You round the corner of the slickrock bench, and there they are: sculpted over millions of years out of the petrified sand dunes of Navajo sandstone. No other type of sandstone produces arches quite like Navajo.
After taking several photos of the arches from various perspectives, I knew I had to paint Corona at least. I've not had that same urge with the other arches I've seen and photographed. I also was thinking that I really need to get a lightweight plein air set up that will fit in a backpack so I can paint this baby on location, because, really - how cool would that be? There is one set of metal stairs and a cable with Moki steps (areas cut into the sandstone for climbing up a steep sandstone face), but that's it as far as difficulty goes (in other words: not a problem).
So, after doing several small color studies for more abstract landscapes (none of which were worth posting), I decided to whip this out from one of my photos. After using a piece of the el-cheapo construction paper I bought a few months ago for some color testing, I realized it worked pretty darn good when used without sanding the surface. As is always the case, some pastels work better than others, but for the most part, I got it to do what I wanted. The sky was the main issue.
This would turn out even better in oils, where I could finesse the temperatures and values better. It sort of has a graphic feel to it, which I like.
Some photos from Thursday, the first day of the trip:
|The Colorado along Rocky Rapids on Hwy 128|
|One of the Fisher Towers, as seen along the trail....|
|...and a close-up of the same tower a bit later with a climber peep standing on the top!|
|This extreme example of a balanced rock along the trail, that I named "Striking Cobra rock"|
|Some of the towers along the trail|
|The Colorado River as seen at the end of the Fisher Towers trail - view is to the north|
|The view to the south at the end of the trail - looking down to Onion Creek Canyon|
|Fisher Towers as seen from the trailhead in afternoon light|
|Half moon rising over The Titan - the tallest sandstone spire in the world at 900'|
View is from Hwy 128