Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cedar Mesa, UT, part III - a still life of sorts, plein air pastel

Sandstone Still Life - plein air, 12x12 inches
pastel on brown cardstock
© 2012, S.Johnson
The last painting done on the trip, quite different than the others.  This sandstone cliff, divided into tiered layers, offers mini alcoves and undercut areas that are ideal for a variety of shrubs and grasses to eke out an existence, producing a most attractive rock garden.  I was impressed with the tenacity of the small juniper at the top, and the contrast with the cool blue-gray-green of the adjacent sage.  

This was about 20' away from the RV, so I was able to sit in the shade to do this painting.  With mid-afternoon sun directly on the facade of the rock, the color nuances from variegations within the sedimentary layers,  mineralized desert varnish and organic contributions from lichen were readily appreciated.

I had plans and visions of painting more grand, sweeping views of the landscape, but I've come to realize that I really dislike standing in full sun to paint.  So, an umbrella for my easel is next on my equipment purchase, and next time, I'll paint the view up Arch Canyon one sees from atop this sandstone outcropping...



  1. Your painting is beautiful, Sonya. And your photographs are stunning. You amaze and inspire me! :)

  2. I love the painting! Nice photos too.

  3. Aw, thanks Darla - I appreciate your sweet comments! I could have found subjects to paint (and photograph) in this area for probably a few weeks, if not more.

    Hey Cary - thanks for stopping by!

  4. As always, I love your wildflower photos.

  5. Thanks, LeAnn. If I can say so, probably the most impressive thing about these wildflower shots for me is that they are all manual focus, since I haven't replaced my telephoto lens yet...and they are in sharp focus. Go me and my nearly 46 y.o. eyesight!

  6. Hee-hee, I hear you with the eyesight. It sounds like our eyes are about the same vintage. I got bifocals for the first time this year - I can read again!

    The wildflowers made me catch my breath. The cactus blooms are particularly vibrant. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Changing/fading eyesight - ugh! I had to stop using my regular glasses a few years ago for reading and close-up work because I was getting blurry vision and headaches. Aging is no fun, I must say!

    The Claret Cup (cactus) is my favorite shot of the group. They are so striking to see in the middle of a mostly green and earthy neutral landscape!

  8. Sandstone Still Life has such an intricate balance of muted and full-on saturated colors, Sonya!!! ...all in perfect harmony, it's really wonderful!!

  9. Thanks for your comments, Diane! The medley of colors and variations found within this region is one of the great appeals to me as a painter. It's even better when I have the right pastels to effectively capture those nuances, too!


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