Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Colors, and studio skies - pastel landscapes

The Green Shed - 12x12"
 pastel on black cardstock
Saturday afternoon's painting, from one of my favorite locations along the river, which of course, isn't visible in this piece.  Each year at this time, I'm reminded of what a fleeting season fall is, or at least as it pertains to fall color and painting.  

The cottonwoods, both narrow leaf, and Fremont, are rapidly fading and dumping their leaves, and I am sort of bummed I wasn't able to make the most of this season.  But, it was peaking in the high country when we were in Escalante, and here in town when we were in Moab, so I can at least bandy that around as an excuse, right?

I had plans to go up to Baker's Bridge and paint there, which I did last year around this time, but I think the window for that is shut; tomorrow, the 4C group has a paint-out in northern NM, and after that, the temperatures are supposed to drop precipitously as the storm hitting CA moves east to our region.  By the time things warm up again, no color will likely remain anywhere in our area.

Here's a small piece I did during the 4CPAP's recent outing the Wildflower Ranch in La Plata Canyon a couple of weeks ago.  This paint-out fell between the Escalante and Moab trips, and was the only painting I got done that week. The larger morning piece, of aspen, I worked on for about two hours before deciding I didn't like the direction it was going, and became bored with it.  I know from experience that it's best to just quit and move on, rather than keep pounding away at it, hoping I can make it work.  This was done after lunch, about 1/2 mile down the road on this property, and the first "keeper" painting I've done of the La Plata river.

Cottonwood Shadows Across the La Plata
8x6", pastel on black paper
And, finally - two studio pieces, small, both done for this week's DailyPaintworks challenge - "The Sky's the Challenge". 

Both reminded me that painting skies/clouds is always a challenge, and that I find it increasingly difficult to work from photographs, probably because it is so easy to overwork the clouds.  You just don't that as an option when painting them in real time.

Burr Trail Sunset - 9x12"
pastel on Strathmore 400-series paper

Monsoon on the Mesa - 6x12"
pastel on black cardstock


  1. I think I have a new favorite color combination: the blue of the sky and the golden yellow of the leaves in "The Green Shed" - wow! The other pieces are beautiful, but I just can't stop looking at that one.

  2. Thanks Gabrielle - I agree about the blue sky and contrast of the yellow from the leaves being eye-catching; it's one of the most compelling reasons to paint this season, I think. In a cloudless blue sky with the lower light, it's always stunning.

  3. Gabrielle took the words right out of my mouth....the golds and blues are stunning! And no one paints sky as prettily as you, Sonya. Gorgeous paintings!

  4. Aw, thanks so much, Darla - you are sweet to say that!

  5. Beautiful fall colors. I love the cottonwoods. with the winds from hurricane Sandy. Hard to believe we felt effects from it here in Indiana. Our leaves are all gone now and we have settled into the winter browns.


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