Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Cottonwood in canyon country - pastel

Another in the mini-series of "Spring in Moab"...

Canyon Cottonwood
12x9 inches, pastel on black cardstock
© 2012, S.Johnson

I love the twisted and irregular shapes of the trunks and branches of these large Fremont cottonwoods that are found throughout the southwest in desert washes and canyons, which explains why they always end up in my trip photos and as subjects for paintings.  Can't be helped.

I originally wanted this to be a really loose piece, maybe bordering on abstract, but it went in a different direction.  Trees are always a challenge for the landscape painter on different levels, and this one was no exception.

A few more photos from Moab:


  1. I like Canyon Cottonwood. I'm reading every post, but sorry I don't comment as often. Moab looks wonderful this time of year - glad you are getting out!

  2. Hi Casey - thanks so much for stopping by. I totally understand about the comments; I'm the same: reading everything but not commenting as much. I'm thrilled that it's finally warm enough to get outside and paint/hike; it really recharges my batteries!

  3. You live in a lovely part of the country and your are is lovely too!

  4. Sonya, your tree is wonderful! It has such depth and I think that is so difficult to pull off correctly. Very nice photos, too!

  5. This is so pretty, Sonya. The colors are beautifully evocative of this time of year, and your tree is spectacular. Nice work!

  6. Thanks so much, Helen - I feel lucky that we live so close to Utah canyon and slickrock country!

    Hi Sandy - thank you so much for the kind comments. They really are hard to pull off, and I figure if I keep plugging away at them, eventually they get easier to paint...maybe?

    Thank you as always for the encouraging words, Darla. These bright greens of early spring are my favorite greens to paint, for sure. In the summer, the greens overwhelm me and become my nemesis color.

  7. Love this one Sonya. And I do think that the tree has a very abstract shape, must be the effect of old age you think? It looks like an old tree. :) And I always enjoy seeing your awesome photos too.

  8. You really captured the feeling of spring in your pastel, great job. I absolutely love that top photo of the rock and reflection too.

  9. Thanks so much, Crystal. I agree about this cottonwood - it's a big'un, and pretty old, and with tons of character = my favorite kind to paint :).

    Hi Susan - thanks for dropping by; it's always nice to hear from you. Springtime is glorious in our region, isn't it? We really have to make a point to paint together sometime, maybe when the cottonwoods start greening up around our area rivers.

  10. I love the shape of that tree!
    And wonderful photos, too. I especially like the top one!

  11. Thanks, Debbie - the old cottonwoods in these desert canyons are always a highlight on hikes, especially during spring and fall. I just love them!


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