Friday, August 24, 2012

More from Conejos - plein air pastels

I was able to photograph and do some minor tweaking to one of the paintings from the trip, and because the storm system still lingers in our region, I haven't been out painting since we got back.  So, here are the other three, because I got nothin' else right now.

Conejos Reflections - 12x9"
pastel on black cardstock

The first painting on the trip, from a short (1.5 mi) hike along the main trail.  I brought along my folding table and camp stool from Walmart - the second one I've owned - to paint.  Unfortunately, as with the first one, one of the legs has torn through the nylon corner, making it uncomfortable to sit on and resulting in a sore back (and groin) for the next 2 days.

Rock Study - 6x6"
pastel on brown cardstock
From camp.  Sarah, who makes a good living as an equine sculptor, had been wanting to try pastel/landscape painting for a while, and I thought this landscape still life would be an excellent subject to start out with.    So, we sat and painted these rocks and willows between rainstorms.  I wish I could have gotten a photo of the golden-colored marmot that made these rocks his home.

Rock slope study - 12x12"
pastel on black cardstock

Another from our campsite, with Sarah, on another day.  Unfinished, and an example of how I got sort of sloppy with my composition.  I always use a viewfinder, but this one got away from me.  It was also a reminder that one needs to take ownership of the view nature presents, and adjust accordingly.

Had I been putting more thought into this, I'd have completely left out the distal mountain (which is the same as in the diptych I posted) and eliminated all but a sliver of the lower slope/road.   The focus was intended to be on the rocky slope with the trees on it; the distal mountains add nothing but clutter.  I just fell into the "lazy" trap of painting what was in front of me...for shame!

I mention this, and post it, because I think as artists, we tend to have the unspoken expectation that all of our paintings should have successful outcomes (that is:  a painting that is fit for selling).  Sometimes, however, there is much to be gained from the paintings that don't work.  A self-critique of "why didn't this work?" is useful; if we're lucky, the same mistake perhaps won't be repeated again.


  1. I love the abstract quality of the first one. I also think that sometimes what we think doesn't work, works for others. I think the third one is great, beautiful color and painterly quality.

  2. I like them very much. The third one will work out well after you tweak it. Glad you posted these!

  3. Sheri - thank you for your generous comments. I completely agree about how widely perceptions of an artist's work may vary! It's an interesting thing, and I hear lots of artists speak of in their own work (and photography, too).

    Thanks Casey - I'm glad you thought they were worthwhile to post. I may keep the 3rd around for a bit, just to see if I ever get in the mood to finish it.

  4. Love the first one. I'm always taken in by the beautiful reflections/quality of water that you paint. About the 3rd, it is true, this one may well be work for someone else. And with maybe a bit of tweaking you may change your mind.

  5. Sonya, I always love seeing your paintings and reading about your travels. I've been wiping off a lot of my daily paintings lately, so your post is a timely one for me. Thanks for reminding me that much can be learned through our failures. It definitely helps to make them sting less. :)

    I hope your back is feeling better now. Looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful work!

  6. amazing talent...fantastic works sonya

  7. Thanks Liz - the reflections are a fun, but never-ending challenge, to paint.

    Hi Darla - thanks as always for your sweet comments :). I believe that it is quite possible that more is learned during the "wipers" than the successful paintings, but we just don't see it that way. They are without a doubt very frustrating, but the anecdotal evidence I've seen from fellow bloggers, as well as my own experience, shows that the paintings that follow a bunch of "failures" are quite often exceptional. So, worry not, my friend!

    Hi Ashok - thanks so much for the visit and comment!


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

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