Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two more plein air pastels from Escalante Canyons Art Festival

Not posted in the order painted...

Storm Over Escalante Canyon - 12x16", plein air
pastel on gray Artagain paper
This piece was done (and still not quite finished) in two afternoon sessions.  I'd intended to head back out for a third session to finish it up completely on location, but time and weather/light conditions didn't permit that.  So, after dragging it around on my easel for the better part of a week, it's now finished!

It was started Wed early evening, less than an hour before sunset.  The location is along the road to the Escalante State Park/Campground, where we spent the first two nights in Escalante.  It is about 2 miles west of town, so this view is to the east.  The late afternoon light lit up the beautiful sandstone cliffs and canyon walls, and I knew I had to paint it as we drove back from picking up my Quick Draw entry.

I jumped right back in the car when we got back to our campsite, drove to this location by a cattle ranch, and quickly established the main composition and the basic colors of the rock  and foreground while the light was still good.  I had to stop when the sun went down behind the distal plateau behind me, and the light had completely disappeared.  

I returned around 4PM the next afternoon, and was in luck that the stormy skies that had provided the contrast for the original view were staging an encore, albeit a bit different.  So, I worked quickly to capture the ever-changing clouds.

One thing I love about painting skies such as these, are the edges.  Hard, soft, lost and found - these clouds had them all.   

Buttes Near Harris Wash - 9x12", plein air
pastel on toned UArt #600
An "unofficial" piece done (not stamped) on Friday, along the trail leading to the Zebra slot canyon.  We loved this hike when we did it back in May, and I wanted to do a painting somewhere along the trail, or in the washes.  These stunning striped buttes, of Jurassic period Navajo sandstone, are a stand-out feature along the hike, and these are about 2 miles into the hike.  When I found a large juniper to provide shade right near the trail with this view, it was a no-brainer.  I spent about an hour or so working on this while Wayne explored Harris Wash downstream.

I even had him take a picture of me at the scene after he got back:

Two more pictures from that hike:

Forming cumulonimbus anvil looking north from where I painted

Clouds against sandstone - Halfway Hollow wash on the hike back


  1. Magnificent clouds! I especially liked the photo of you.

  2. Thanks LeAnn - we were lucky to have such beautiful skies during the trip. Sometimes, that meant rain later in the afternoon, but not on this day!

  3. Thanks Dan - I find that when I am mindful of the edges, the painting(s) usually are pretty successful, at least in my opinion.


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