Friday, April 20, 2012

Comb Ridge, Utah - pastel

Inspired by tomorrow's trip to Cedar Mesa:  another road painting...

Towards the Comb
10x20 inches - pastel on Canson Mi-Tientes paper
© 2012, S.Johnson
Based on a photo taken last April during our first trip to Cedar Mesa/Butler Wash, this was one of those paintings that arose somewhat spontaneously.  I was preparing some of my 8x16" matboard panels for painting and thought that a 1:2 painting seemed like a good idea.  Going through my photos, this one epitomized the majestic view of the Comb Ridge monocline as seen from Hwy 95 heading west, which made it a logical choice.

Instead of using the prepared board, I thought I might try using the other half of a sheet of rust-colored Canson paper I've had for ages - seriously, I think I've been dragging this sheet around for at least 10 years.  I bought it back when Canson was pretty much the only readily available paper for pastels.

And besides - what better way to resume pastel painting after being in a recent rut than using a surface that has always proved challenging and really never produced a painting worth keeping?  Sounds like a great recipe for failure!

I was reminded again how much I admire pastelists that are able to use this paper to great success, such as Bill Cone and Lorenzo Chavez.  Really, I don't know how they do it.

I suppose this turned out better than it could have/should have, perhaps, given the circumstances.  It allows for more layering than my favorite black Artagain, but the rough texture (smooth side, even) sort of rubs me the wrong way...pun intended.  I am trying to get away from finger blending my pastels, but this just didn't seem to work without blending.

Anyway, with luck and motivation, I'll return from our trip on Tuesday with at least a few paintings and probably more photos of Anasazi cliff dwellings.


  1. That is so funny that you've been carting paper around for ten years because I do the exact same thing!! :) I think this piece is beautiful Sonya, I love the long format, it suits the subject perfectly.

  2. Crystal - that is so funny that you've done the same thing with paper! This sheet has literally moved around the country with me, I guess just waiting for this moment. Pretty funny when you think about it. And thank you so much for the kind words about the painting :).


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