Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Snow in Sedona

Snow is an uncommon event here in Sedona, and yesterday we had 5 inches of it. It lay like a comforter over the hills, but more like lace on the finely-ridged mountaintops. Needless to say, the workshop didn't venture outside. Instead, we painted indoors but looking out. We took advantage of the large, floor-to-ceiling windows and the wonderful view toward the south. Even as we painted, the snow was visibly diminishing on Coxcomb, Doe and Bear Mountains.

I worked on an oil sketch, thinking more about value and color relationships than precise form. I built up the paint pretty thickly. In the end, I took a palette knife to the piece to smooth out the texture in some areas. Surprisingly, the hard-edged knife ended up being a good tool for rendering the softness of snow and cloud. You have to let the flat side of the knife "slide" over the surface lightly.

The day before, we had rain, which is another uncommon event. (I don't think my students believe me when I say we just experienced nearly six weeks of unbroken sun and excellent weather!) I chose pastel to do two small sketches. Again, I was interested more in color and value than anything else. I worked especially on the cool reds and greens in the distant hills and the relationship to the warmer foreground greens. For the distant hills, I chose two pastels of the same value - a rather vivid red-violet and a blue-green. After blocking in the hills, I layered the complement of each over them to neutralize the rich color somewhat. I also used a bit of "real" grey to cool them down further.

I'll put these sketches in chronological order below. By the way, in second pastel, that's a home on a hilltop that resembles an Italian villa. Homes here run the gamut from modest to supreme examples of Veblen's "conspicuous consumption." Trina and I like the villa house; well-designed, it looks like a weathered outcrop of rocks on the hilltop - almost as if the winter rains revealed it naturally after centuries of erosion.

Coxcomb in Rain
5x7, pastel,

Hilltop Home
5x7, pastel,

Coxcomb in Snow
8x10, oil,

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