Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A trio of paintings along Cascade creek - plein air, pastel

Finishing touches and photographs, finally, for the paintings done over the weekend's trip.

Orange Lichen and the Green Pool - 12x12" - plein air
pastel on dark brown cardstock
© S.Johnson
Thursday afternoon's painting, done about 30' from our campsite right along the creek.  There were so many fun things going on here that I had no trouble deciding on this as my first painting.  Some new challenges for painting water as well, such as being able to convey the effect of underwater bubbles and turbulence produced by the little fall of water passing through the channel of boulders.  The foreground pool appealed to my abstract gene, and then there is the river itself.

And the boulder, with its fissures and color variations, including some bright orange lichen, which ultimately inspired the sort of unusual title for this painting.

Embankment Aspen and Shadows - 11x8.5"
pastel on maroon cardstock
© S.Johnson
Another view right from the campsite, looking up and across the creek.  This is aspen country, so it was a given that they had to figure into at least one painting.  This was Friday morning's painting, done before breakfast.  I was reminded again of what a challenge it is to try and depict the massed greens of a forest - in this case, aspen, spruce, fir and probably some ponderosa pine.  

Fallen Rock and Tree - 8.5x11"
pastel on turquoise cardstock
© S.Johnson
Friday afternoon's painting, done a mere 15' from last weekend's painting "Creek Cascade".  Wayne and I had both been fascinated by the fact this full-grown tree was coming right up out of a large slab of limestone.  Strong shadows and patches of rust-colored moss - along with that tangle of roots - made it a fun challenge to paint.  The hardest part was dealing with the shadows, which changed by the minute:  by the time I'd finished the painting, the blue shadows had covered most of the creek.

We had great weather on Thursday and Friday, and because of the long hike we did on Friday, I'd planned to spend Saturday painting some aspen and road views I'd scouted out.  Alas, clouds rolled in early and stayed late, killing the light and dramatic shadows I wanted to paint.  So, I went out with my camera instead and spent a few hours photographing the creek..

...Wait:  hadn't I recently mentioned that I seldom take photos of moving water because they just don't do justice and aren't inspiring to paint from?   That's true.   That wasn't the intent with these photos, as you'll see in tomorrow's post, which I will dedicate just to this subject.

Here are a few flora and fauna photos from the weekend's hikes:

Blue and White Columbine in profile - one can never have enough photos
of this beautiful wildflower

Another native orchid!  Species unidentified
Fritillary species

Common Ringlet

male blue - unidentified species

Common Arctic - they seldom land and are very wary, so this was a luck shot indeed


  1. You certainly have captured some incredible butterflies and fauna too!

  2. The butterfly photos are amazing! And I love the birch trees.

  3. Thanks, ladies - butterflies are definitely a favorite photography subject, and there will be more of them in the future!

  4. Fantastic paintings and photographs, Sonya!

  5. Thanks so much, Antonia and Fabio!

  6. These are all so lovely, Sonya. I especially love "Embankment Aspen and Shadows." Great work!


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