Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Falls Creek - pastel, plein air landscape

Falls Creek Cliffs - 12x12"
pastel on brown cardstock
© S.Johnson
Yesterday's painting, with details (and wind damage) finished up today.

A quick departure from the river and rocks to paint in a new location near town.  I can't believe I hadn't thought to paint here before, but the only other time I've been to this somewhat hidden creek valley was last year in early spring.  I knew I wanted to come back and paint it, but forgot until yesterday.

The area, known as Falls Creek Archaeological Area, is just a few miles north of town and adjacent to Hwy 550.  However, it's not visible from the highway because of a section of cliff separating it from the valley.  There are no visible ruins, but there was/is archaeological evidence of the Basketmaker culture that lived in the area 2500-1400 years ago.  This particular view, to the west, is closed to the public to protect fragile archaeological areas.

What drew me to paint here was, of course, those striking cliffs of white sandstone.  It's as close as I can get to the Utah landscape I adore so much...just more of that pesky green to contend with, which I consider the bane of my existence as a landscape painter.  Needless to say, the greens were my least favorite part about doing this painting.

Speaking of painting green, I was thrilled to read Stapleton Kearns' latest blog post addressing that very issue:  Dealing with summer greens.  If you're a landscape painter and haven't read this post, head over there now and check it out.  I should print it out and laminate it to my easel.   If nothing else, I was comforted to read that I am far from being alone in my disdain of painting this season.

After reading Stape's post and studying that fabulous Willard Metcalf painting, I decided to apply his principle of "smuggling red" into this piece.  I frequently use purples and blues to modify the greens, particularly in the shadows, but I've never really tried reds, so this was a very cool thing to try.  Not much, but I did smudge some dark brick-earth reds into those upper dark trees.  I think I could have been more assertive with that.

Next time.  Perhaps tomorrow:  the 4C group is going back out to the private ranch in La Plata Cyn to paint tomorrow, and there's a lot of green.

Wayne and I decided that we had such a great time at Cascade Creek on Sunday that we are going to spend an extended weekend there:  fishing, painting and hiking.   This time, I will be driving my Jeep up so I can cut off a mile of hiking along the high-clearance road to the actual trailhead with my painting gear.  The hardest part will be deciding what to paint from all the areas I saw.

With luck, I'll come back Sunday with a handful of paintings and more new photos!

I am going to have a delayed post go up while I'm gone of photos taken at my friend Sarah's yesterday afternoon, just because they are too fun not to share, and I'm as much a photographer as painter.


  1. Thanks LeAnn - I'm shutting down the computer and heading out as soon as I hit "publish" here :D.

  2. Beautiful painting, Sonya! I hope you and Wayne have a wonderful trip. Looking forward to seeing your new pieces!

  3. Thank you, Darla :). I have 3, but just need to sit down and do some minor tweaking before I can post them.

    Thanks for stopping by, Barry.


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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...