Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Painting Zion Canyon

I just finished my first painting of Zion Canyon. I spent a week there in November of 2004 and took about 800 photos. I didn't try painting them sooner because I had no confidence that I could do justice to the rock formations. But I finally decided to try this spring (and hey—it's spring!) so I sorted through them several times and pulled out ten that I think have pretty good compositions. I liked this one for the soft light and the rich colors. This photo was taken in the morning on one of my last days there, when the temperature dropped about 30º and I woke up to a quarter inch of solid ice all over my car.

If you've never been there, it's definitely worth a trip, and as long a stay as you can manage. Going in the off-season was particularly nice. I was entertained by the fact that almost all of the people I saw there, especially early in the day, had cameras, tripods, and varying amounts of other photographic gear. That was the first trip I had ever made where there were more photographers than tourists. I didn't do any real hiking, just followed all the roads I could find. I think a committed visitor could spend 3 months there—or as many years—without running out of new sights.

And I have a special fondness for it because it's the setting for my story book, Take The Wind Up With You.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Finished—after 5 years!

Blue Ridge Railway
Six (I think) years ago, I flew to VA to visit my older brother, and he took me up to some of his favorite photograph-shooting places on the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of them was this old—very old—railroad track, just off the parkway near a tiny creek and pool. I started painting it the next year and worked on it for several weeks until I lost confidence in my ability to finish it the way I wanted it to look. It came off the easel and went into the stacks for later. Much later, as it turned out.

After finishing my latest painting, I finally felt good about picking it up again. I was pleasantly surprised that I could get back into the style I was using then and didn't have to do any repainting, except for the color of the sky I had previously chosen. The foreground leaves that had scared me enough to make me stop turned out to be just a matter of continuing painting on it until I got just the right mix of colors and shading.

My biggest problem was with the overall color scheme, which was so warm that I always felt like I needed a glass of water every time I looked at it. It only took a brief moment of meditation with my color wheel to realize that all I needed was some blue violet and and violet and viridian to balance it out. Ta-da.

I'm pretty happy just to say it's finished, and I'm planning on entering it in the County Fair show this August.

If I were starting it now, I think I would approach it very differently. I did have a fleeting urge to redo the whole thing and make it softer and looser. But, as the saying goes—the urge fled. I want to move on to my Zion photos next, and it's an early gardening season this year, and there's never enough time for everything I want to do, especially during gardening season.