Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Animas River in plein air - pastel

Two recent paintings done along the Smelter Mountain rapids section of the Animas River:

River Boulders and Whitewater #2 - 8.5"x11
pastel on forest green cardstock
© S.Johnson

Saturday afternoon's painting.  It continues with my fascination with the flow patterns of water over and around partially submerged boulders.  This past weekend was the Animas River Days; readers may remember photos from last year's kayak rodeo during that event.  The river is less than 1/4 of that flow now.  I sat on the bank of the river in my stadium chair and painted this.  I managed to wrap it up just as the first participants in the rafting costume contest floated by.

Fallen Rock and Riverside Tree - 12x12"
pastel on black cardstock
© S.Johnson
Yesterday's painting.  This huge slab of fallen rock from Smelter was intriguing with its color gradations, fissures and shadows.  And then, this little cottonwood growing out of one of the junctions. I finally remembered to pull out the boxes of new Senn's that I bought last month, which included a cool green that I thought would be a good addition for all the foliage I paint.  Turns out, it was just perfect for river water.  


  1. That is so wonderful - I thought they were both photos - you are so good!

  2. These are both so beautiful, Sonya. I feel like I could look at them forever; they are so pleasing. Great work!

  3. I especially like the first one... we spend a little time almost every day walking down to the F Street bridge and watching the patterns as the water spins off rocks in the Arkansas. But this weekend is FIBArk.. we won't even be able to get NEAR the bridge until Monday. (sigh) I'll have to look at art instead. ;-)

  4. Wonderful work! I especially like the fallen rock.

  5. Thank you so much, Darla - what a generous and sweet thing to say!

    Hi Sherrie - it's really mesmerizing to watch the water swirling around the rocks isn't it? Definitely one of my favorite things about being around the rivers and creeks in our area. I imagine the Arkansas is really low as well. Scary, this season is. Have fun looking at art this weekend - another favorite thing of mine to do!

    Thanks so much, LeAnn.

  6. Great work, Sonya. As a painter of rocks and water myself I especially admire you painting on site. What is your set up like? Do you take a lot of colors? Do you have a plein air easel you prefer? I paint plein air in oils and do my pasels in the studio.

  7. Thanks so much for stopping by, Michael - it's always nice to hear from a fellow pastelist! Regarding my plein air set-ups, they vary, depending upon where I'm painting and such. I use a MABEF french easel when I want to stand and don't have to walk far, or the camp stool and small folding table you can see here: http://sonyajohnsonart.blogspot.com/2012/05/back-from-southern-utah-12-tour-days-1.html. I carry two boxes of pastels which you can also see. I'll take better close-up pics of those at some point to better show the colors I use.


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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