Sunday, October 4, 2009

What I Saw

My husband Eric and I just returned from a trip West to get out annual mountain fix. To accommodate all of the paraphernalia that goes with plein air painting and fly fishing, we drove. It was wonderful. We took a relaxed three days to drive to Utah and returned the same non-rushed way. In the middle he fished and I painted for a week using Park City as our base of operation. On the drive to and from Utah I did small paintings of the scenes along the road in my journal. I'll show some of them in a future post.

We had been to Utah to ski and had seen the state in the Summer but we were not prepared for the glory of Utah's Fall. Or the great fishing! The maples had turned a fluorescent red and the aspens were starting to yellow. The color is almost too much for a landscape painter to deal with. Frankly, it just doesn't look real. Painting it risks going down the road of sentimentality or cliche. As it was, most of the spots I found myself oil painting in were in the Provo River Valley near the good fishing waters of the Middle Provo River. No maples or aspen there, just the willows and cottonwoods of the river bottoms and long stretches of meadow. Fall color was obvious but not shouting at me.

I left home with about twenty panels primed with either a rusty red or a medium gray. It was good having the choice of grounds. Evening subjects turned out better on the gray panels. You can see a bit of the red ground showing on the image above. In the image below I used a gray panel. It turned out that not having to deal with the red ground helped me catch the mercury-like color of the water as it looked long after the sun had faded. In fact, I was doing this painting almost in the dark by the time I finished. The red you see around the mountains in the background are bits of the drawing I did on the panel using some thinned down alizarin crimson.

These two images were painted at the same site. The top one looks south toward giant Mt. Timpanogos, the second one, immediately above, looks north along a lower section of the Middle Provo.
I came home with thirteen paintings. I'm still trying to get to 200.

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