Saturday, June 30, 2012

Painting in Durango - plein air pastel

It's nice when you don't have to travel far to find something to paint.

Sky From 3rd Ave - 12x12"
pastel on light brown cardstock
© S.Johnson
And, after hiking up Engineer trail this morning, I was feeling too lazy to drive anywhere, so I just walked half-way across our street to the grassy median, and painted from there.  Sitting, of course.

I've sort of been wanting to paint this house for a while, so this seemed like the perfect time, especially since the next 4C paint out is in Silverton, and that's all about the buildings and architecture.  Good practice for that.

Photos from the hike, which was about 8 miles and topped out above timberline at 11,900'.  This is a top-notch hike for wildflowers, and they were stunning this year - surprising, given the lack of rain and light snowpack.

No landscape photos, because about 1/2 mile from the junction to hike up Engineer, a cloud positioned itself right in front of the sun, and proceeded to grow to epic proportions in the windless sky, killing the light.  Disappointing from a photographer's standpoint, but that's the way it goes.

Instead, I bring you a batch of butterflies and paintbrushes:

Coronis Fritillary

Western Paintbrush - while the sun was still out
Rocky Mountain Parnassian
This, and the butterfly below, were stationary on flowers while the sun was behind
the clouds above timberline.  They require the warmth from the sun in order to fly.
Arctic Blue on Sneezeweed
Rosy Paintbrush

West Coast Lady - first of these I've ever seen

Purplish Fritillary

Painted Lady - underside

Milbert's Tortoiseshell


  1. Your butterfly photos are incredible!!

  2. Thanks ladies! Lots of luck and patience to get these :)

  3. I LOVE the way you paint clouds and skies. And the barn is great too. One of my favorite things about pastels is how you can see some of the texture of the paper through it, but with colored pencil work that drives me crazy. Weird huh?

    ANd yes your butterflies are incredible!! :) I bet it took patience. :)

  4. Aw, thanks, Crystal! Painting clouds is always a challenge to me - much harder than painting moving water. I always worry that the clouds look too stiff or contrived, so it's nice to hear that they read okay to others :).

    Photographing butterflies really does teach one about patience, I've found ;). I tossed probably 2x the number that I took.


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