Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Painting in New Mexico with the PAP4C

Well, I can now officially say I've painted on location in all the Four Corner states:

Along The Wash
12x12 inches - pastel on Artagain
© S.Johnson
Today was the next-to-last official paint-out held by the Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners for the year.  Since the fall color is now history in the Durango area, today's location was moved south into an area right near Farmington known as The Glades.  Primarily known as an OHV (off-highway vehicle) site, it is mostly low sandstone cliffs along a wide wash.  

Lori and Sharon and I went down together, and initially we weren't sure the area had much appeal for painting, as the light seemed very flat, but we finally settled on a small spur road leading to one of the countless natural gas pads found in the area.

I immediately gravitated to this wash and shadowed sandstone with all the desert scrub (pinyon, chamisa and sage).  Originally, I hadn't planned for there to be so much of the wash in the painting, but as is sometimes the case, the composition deviates from what I originally frame in my viewfinder.  Before our group critique, I showed it to Lori, who agreed that cropping some of the bottom off would be good.  However, at the critique session, everyone pretty much liked it as is and didn't think it needed cropping.

I did play around with cropping the photo and am undecided, since the crop didn't improve the painting to the degree I thought it would..either way, I love this very desert look and I think a few of us will probably come back down here over the winter on warm days to paint - the light got better and better as the day went on, which is often the case in the winter months when the sun is near its lowest angle in the sky.

More photos from today's paint-out, which turned out to be a beautiful, warm day:



  1. looks like you have had a fantastic time out! the light and shadow in this rugged terrain is difficult to catch and you have done that exceedingly well! nice painting and nice post!

  2. You have a land of riches there.

    The depth in your painting always wows me.

  3. Hi M.R. - thanks! You are right that the light is a difficult thing to capture in this area (one reason I've never tried painting it from the various photos I've taken).

    Thanks Casey - I agree that we do have a land of riches here; an hour north, west or south puts you into radically different landscapes, which is sort of amazing when you think about it. It's one of the many things I enjoy about living in this area.

  4. What a beautiful area - and looks like a fun group!

    I love the colors and the depth of this piece - I agree with not cropping the piece - I think the bottom adds to the depth and helps to draw you in. Wonderful painting.

  5. Thanks Debbie - I have found that the only thing better than painting on location is painting with other artists on location :).

    I appreciate your thoughts re the painting and crop/no crop; it's easy to lose perspective and ability to objectively analyze something you've worked on for a few hours, so that's why other artist's eyes and critiques are so helpful.

  6. Wonderful array of paintings! I enjoyed looking through your pictures. Good for you guys getting out there and painting plein-air! I hope to do more of that this winter, to do some snowscapes.... brrr!
    Happy Painting,

  7. Thanks so much for stopping by (and following!), Nora - I appreciate it :). You're brave to think about painting outside during winter in Toronto!


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