Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trail to LIcking River

"Licking River Trail Evening Light" 24"x18" pastel

"Licking River Trail sketch" 12"x8" pastel

Reference photograph "BlueLicks Trail"

"Licking River Trail Evening Light" is not finished but I like to view things 2/3 the way finished. This is one of those pieces I don't want to overwork and lose the abstracted freshness.

The next image is the sketch I created at BlueLicks State Park when I visited in June. The evening light illuminated the trail and made the vegetation glow. 

And the final image is the reference photograph that I took that evening.

I think its fun to see how the progression of a final piece from photo, to sketch, to studio piece.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Upstream at Cumberland Falls

"Upstream at Cumberland Falls"   16"x20" pastel on Uart paper

Upstream in the Morning Cumberland River  photo

Looking through all my reference photos from the Cumberland Falls trip, my eye keeps wandering back to a photo of Cumberland River above the falls. I took the photo early in the morning with the hillside and bridge backlit with morning sun hitting the maple trees and bank. The bridge is barely visible in the background.

In the pastel drawing "Upstream at Cumberland Falls" I pushed the background color to play on complementary colors between the maple tree and riverside against background hillside.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pines and Maples Evening Light

"Pines and Maples Evening Light" 17"x17" on Uart sanded paper

When I left Natural Bridge the evening light fell on the pines with the darkness of the forest creeping up the valley floor. No time to create a plein air drawing but I snapped lots of photographs.

Bright light hit the maples but to make the drawing work I had to choose to quiet the maples in the background to keep the focus on the pine tree.

I worked slowly today to finish the piece but not overwork it. Adding some color and then leaving the room, re-entering with fresh eyes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Evening Light on Pines

"Evening Light on Pines"   16"x17" pastel on Uart paper toned with acrylic
I like to photograph my work when it's partially finished. The small format of the photograph helps you see the composition and what areas need to be simplified or the value changed.

I used my reference photograph from my trip yesterday to Natural Bridge. The evening light was streaming through the forest and illuminating the pine trees. Light was fading too quickly to set up for a plein air drawing so I knew I'd have to depend on the photographs.

Maple tree colors glowed on the right side and my challenge is to keep some of that glow but not let it distract from the light on the pine tree.  I know that my photos overexpose the lights and block up the darks, but I like strong contrast and that contrast helps focus on the pine tree. This is a drawing I don't want to overwork and I want to keep a lot of the colors fairly neutral to keep the focus on the light on the tree trunk.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Natural Bridge

"Natural Bridge 1"   8"x13" pastel on Uart sanded paper
"Natural Bridge 2"   8"x13" on Uart sanded paper
"Natural Bridge 3"   8"x12" on Wallis sanded paper
"Natural Bridge Vista"   8"x12" on Uart sanded paper

After the nasty weather passed I drove down to Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, KY and it was a beautiful late fall day with full sunshine.

Because I didn't get to stay overnight at the park my drawing time was limited so I concentrated on the main feature - the hugh sandstone arch.

The paper for the first two drawings was Uart sanded paper with an acrylic wash color of warm gray which I created to match the color Belgium Mist from Wallis. That is such a great color to go any direction with my drawings, (light or dark, warm or cool) but Wallis had significant manufacturing difficulties and my last order was on backorder for 3 months. Now I'm looking for an alternative "favorite". My other favorite is PastelMat but it's considerably more expensive than Uart.

The trail around Natural Bridge is steep and tree-covered and I had to set up very close to the arch. The underneath color of the arch was warm which doesn't show at all in my photographs of the arch. That's why I'm so hooked on plein air drawing. I can really see colors especially in the shadow areas. 

I'm not happy with the last drawing of the Natural Bridge vista. If I get time I'm going to try another with more expressive colors.

Natural Bridge State Park was the last park on my grant from the Kentucky Department of Parks. What a wonderful adventure of visiting all these beautiful places and I'm so grateful to Sam Devine from the Park Department for making the grant happen.