Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Painting in McElmo Canyon - plein air pastel

Behind Kelly Place - 16x12", plein air
Pastel on black Strathmore
Today's 4CPAP paint-out was held at a charming Bed & Breakfast in McElmo Canyon - Kelly Place , which is about 12 miles west of Cortez.  I've seen the sign when we have driven along the highway, either on our way to Bluff, UT, or to hike in Sand Canyon, but have never been to the property before; it is tucked back off the highway about 1/2 mile.

It was definitely one of my favorite locations the group has painted this year, and I'd go back any time and paint there; in fact, Jerene, one of the owners, was  in finding painters willing to teach a class - I told her I'd be interested.  I've thought it would be fun to do a workshop for beginning pastelists or plein air painters, and this would be an ideal venue for that!

Anyway, it didn't take me long to decide on this particular location for my painting - a colorful sandstone cliff with desert scrub and a wash:  in other words, a subject right up my painting alley, so speak.

While I was painting, one of the guests drove by and asked if he could look over my shoulder.  That's never bothered me, and since I was almost finished, I was happy to take a break and chat with him.  It turns out he's purchased works from a pastel artist who lives in Boulder, UT, whose work I am familiar with, and has attended the Maynard Dixon Country plein air invitational in the past, so he's quite knowledgable about plein air painting and many of the top landscape painters.

And, he decided he liked my painting enough to buy it on the spot, which, needless to say, made my day.

I think it's a good sign, too, since I have gone ahead and registered for both the Escalante Canyons Art Festival, which is just over 3 weeks away, and PleinAir Moab (thanks for the nudge, Dan!), which follows closely on its heels a week later.

To say that I'm excited to get back to southern Utah and paint would be a bit of an understatement - it's almost all I've been thinking about for the past few weeks!


  1. I wish I wish I could come see you at Plein Aire Moab!! THat would be so fun! And I love the new painting Sonya (how awesome is that that he bought it right there!!), my favorite part is the gradation in the blue sky, and the rocks, they are such powerful rocks. :)

  2. I know - wouldn't that be fun, Crystal? Well, one of these days we'll make a get-together happen. Somewhere :D. Rocks are a glorious subject to paint, I think, although apparently many painters find them very difficult. But, yes, that rocky cliff commanded attention right away, and it was pretty much love at first sight!

  3. This is a little masterpiece, Sonya! Very beautiful!!!

  4. It's easy to see why this one sold. I's beautiful. I love the way you color the various shades in the rock. You always do such a lovely job.

  5. Hi Ruth - thank you so much. It was fun to return to such a favorite subject to paint.


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