Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More Escalante, UT studio works on new papers

Fifty-Mile Cliffs - 9x9"
pastel on toned UArt #600
© S.Johnson
I spent a good portion of yesterday morning "processing" some of the larger sheets of various papers I have been accumulating, and getting them ready for possible inclusion for the Escalante Plein Air festival.

I had planned to take a piece of acrylic-toned UArt #400 paper that I had toned with a thick wash of sienna acrylic out yesterday to paint, but ran out of time.  Instead, I decided to experiment with smaller studio pieces.

For some reason, when Blick sent me the paper order with the incorrect surface of UArt, they also sent the incorrect size:  27x21", I think.  I ordered 18x24", which I can trim down into smaller sizes I use on location.  Anyway, to get some 9x12" and 12x16" pieces, I was left with an odd size:  this 9x9.  But, hey - it's a square, and a workable size.   I toned it with a dark warm gray acrylic wash.

I had earlier selected out this photo from our May trip, near our campsite off Hole-in-the-Rock road (HITR), of afternoon light on the Fifty-Mile Cliffs.  These cliffs, which run parallel and south of the HITR road, look most appealing to me in the late afternoon as distal bluish silhouettes.  I could easily go back out and paint at the exact location on this upcoming trip.

I painted this as if it were on location:  quickly, no fussing with details.   It handled so much better than the #400 or Wallis, in terms of not having an overly aggressive surface; it may even be the Goldilocks of the sanded pastel paper continuum, at least for me.  I'm betting I'll also dig the #800 surface.

Next, two small and quick studies on Artagain paper, from trimmings, surface prepared with #400 wet-dry sandpaper:

Wash Study - 6x3"
Artagain "Moonstone"
Verdict:  love it.  Turquoise skies look great on this paper.

Boulder, UT study - 3x6"
Artagain "Gothic Gray"
Another winner (the paper, not the painting).

I could easily paint this same view - overlooking the small town of Boulder, UT, south from Hwy 24 - on this trip.  I got to use several of the new MV pastels I ordered, including the two dark greens and those sandstone colors in this study.


  1. These are all so pretty, Sonya! I really love the Artagain Moonstone piece. Wow, your turquoise sky just pops against the earthy reds of the landscape. Beautiful works!

  2. Love the Fifty Mile Cliffs painting! The colors and depth are just amazing.

    It is interesting to hear about your experiments with the different papers and paper colors - they have such different effects with the pastels - part of what makes pastels such an intriguing medium!

  3. Darla, thank you, as always, for your supportive comments. I am hoping I find the right scene to do a turquoise sky on this trip using this paper :).

    Debbie - thanks so much; the colors and depth were what grabbed me, and I am glad I was able to capture them in the painting. The afternoon light does amazing things to this landscape, that is for sure!

  4. All beautiful. I'm especially fond of the little 3x6 study. All nice colors. Interesting you got the wrong paper, but nice for experimenting.

  5. These are all so lovely. I can't say which one I like best! I do like the elongated shapes of the bottom two. It makes for a different perception.

  6. Thanks so much, Ruth. I really enjoy the panoramic formats for landscapes, and they are particularly well-suited to such open, sweeping landscapes.


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