Plein Air Painting Trip Part 2

Pronghorn antelope at a cattle salt lick, NV.

Pronghorn antelope at a cattle salt lick, NV.

The next stop was Wild Horse Crossing campgrounds in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, still in Nevada. Again rain stopped my painting so I turned to my sketch book while hunched under my umbrella. But the winds and hail drove us into the cab of the truck. We left in the morning, taking a Forest Service road through some wild lands and got to see pronghorn and wild horses.

Allen photographing an antelope

Allen photographing an antelope

Threatening skies kept us going to our next stop in Oregon at the Malheur National Forest.

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Plein Air painting in Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Its been a while since I posted anything as I have been in Cerrillos for a few weeks and then back up in Paonia again.

I did a little plein air painting while I was in New Mexico. Most of the time it was typical spring weather, which means windy and dirt storms. The sunny calm days brought out the gnats. So painting was a challenge but I did go out in all that.

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

I enjoyed the calm and wind-less days and found there was so much subject matter to paint that I was out a lot.

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

I got a couple paintings that turned out well and a few more that will be great help when I paint bigger ones of the same subject in the studio.

But I’m glad I’m home! I missed my studio.

A Month on Retreat

Morning Walk

Morning Walk, Oil, 11″ x 14″

This month I am on retreat at my friends house in the mountains on the Front Range. I’m about an hour from Denver and don’t feel like going into the hub bub of civilization if I can avoid it. I am house/dog/horse/cat sitting for them while they are on a family vacation. As you can see from the above painting, I take the dogs for a walk on a very scenic road every morning.

I am painting, both in the studio and plein air. The following painting is the plein air study for the one that follows. I went to Morrison with my friend before she left and met up with her plein air painting pals on a warm Sunday morning.

Study for Bear Meadow

Study for Bear Meadow, Oil, 8″ x 10″     

Plein Air in Bear Meadow

Plein Air in Bear Meadow, Oil, 11″ x 14″

I also used this time to refine other plein air studies I did near my home in Paonia. This one is of the confluence of the North Fork and the Gunnison Rivers at a place named the Pleasure Park. Odd name for a riparian area in a desert environment but its a nice place to paint as well as a Gold Medal Stream for fishing.

Confluence Cliffs

Confluence Cliffs, Oil 9″ x 12″

I am still here for a little while longer, so I hope to be productive and creative. I always enjoy myself, especially while painting.

Trees in a desert environment

I love trees, there is no doubt about it. I am a tree hug-er, literally! I must admit I do get a lot of sap and needles on me but that goes well with the oil paint, horse snot and dog fur already on my clothes. I am always impressed when I see trees growing in the desert. Its a tough environment and the trees are equally tough to live there. Their adaptations are laudable.

Utah piñon tree

Utah piñon tree

When I was camping in Utah last weekend, there were lots of trees around us. Piñon and Juniper were the main species. Juniper are one of my favorite trees with Piñon coming in second, so I was content. I painted a couple of really informative plein air paintings of one juniper. The first one I did in an hour, the second one I did in 20 minutes. The short times were to get me to glean the important information I wanted and put it on the canvas fast. I didn’t think about any side details or worry about minutia. Just getting the impression of the moment was the goal of these paintings.

Piñon at 10 a.m. plein air oil painting, 8" x 6"

Piñon at 10 a.m. plein air oil painting, 8″ x 6″

Pinon At Noon, plein air oil painting, 8" x 6"

Pinon At Noon, plein air oil painting, 8″ x 6″

With the information I got outside, I came home this week and painted another tree. I did it from a photo and in the studio but I still felt like I was out on the flats. I referred to the 2 tree paintings to get information I included in the bigger studio painting. I believe it worked. I call it McKay Flats Juniper.

McKay Flats Juniper, 14" x 18" oil painting

McKay Flats Juniper, 14″ x 18″ oil painting

You can view and bid on these 3 paintings on my Daily Paintworks gallery. More work is at my FASO website, cedarkeshet.com.

Wild areas help me recharge my battery.

I just returned from a long weekend of camping in Utah with dogs and friends. My mountain rescue team I belong to held a training in the slot canyons of the San Rafael Swell. I opted to paint and hike rather than rappel and squeeze.

The break was great, I enjoyed the relaxed pace. The plein air sketches and exercises I did are going to provide ideas and inspiration for studio paintings for a long time.  Little road trips like this to wild areas are a balm for my spirit. My internal battery needed the recharge.

Looking north from the campsite.

Looking north from the campsite.

It was a fun drive (translation = rough) on 4WD roads to our meeting point, but the Tacoma was a champ. Our training leader provided us with a highway map pdf, some directions off a website and GPS coordinates. The destination was about 5 hours from home.

The road into our campsite. The left side road is behind and the right side road is in front.

The road into our campsite. The left side road is behind and the right side road is in front.

We had a view of an area called Sinbad country from out campsite.

UTView1

The view from the campsite.

It was very remote but that was fine with us! We are a hardy group.

I hiked with my friend and our dogs before she set out on an explore of the canyons, with all the required gear and knowledge. I painted all day. She returned mid afternoon and joined the plein air fun with her watercolors.

Shade is at a premium in the San Rafael Swell, McKay Flat, UT.

Shade is at a premium in the San Rafael Swell, McKay Flat, UT.

The wind was pretty strong and even with extra tent stakes and lots of big rocks, the umbrella was not an option, so standing in the meager shade of a juniper was my plan. Seems like the dogs had the same idea. The rest of the team returned early evening after 18 miles or so of canyoneering and hiking.

Just a small portion of the pictoglyphs in San Rafael Swell, UT

Just a small portion of the pictoglyphs in San Rafael Swell, UT

The next day we drove around in the swell, which is an ancient reef and uplifted seabed, and caught some glyphs and hiked around Goblin Valley State park. We then traveled to Erby canyon and started a hike up it but the weather with rain clouds threatening a flash flood changed our minds for us. We drove out of the very sketchy road just in time for the downpour.

Me & my climbing dog at Goblin Valley State Park, UT

Me & my climbing dog at Goblin Valley State Park, UT

We ended our weekend at a whitewater rafters’ hang out in Green River UT for burgers and fries and headed back to cooler Colorado.