On almost any clear morning, you can see hot air balloons drifting lazily through the sky. You have to get up early to see them, though, because the tour operators launch them at dawn. There are few things more beautiful than the quiet majesty of a hot air balloon. They are absolutely silent, save for the moment when the gas flares to give the balloon enough lift to safely pass a summit. It's not unusual to see two or three, sometimes even more. Typically, you'll see them south of town, toward Cottonwood, but one day we saw them flying past Cathedral Rock. Here's a photo I took:
One morning, we headed out to the Cultural Park to paint. From there, you get a sweeping panorama of Mingus and Black Mountains, Sycamore Canyon, Thunder Mountain and then on north to Wilson Mountain and the beautiful red rock formations there. We were early enough to catch the balloons.
Balloons are tricky to paint because they are full of intense color. If they are distant, as they were in this case, you can't paint them that way. Instead, you have to make sure the colors are painted dull enough to make them look like they're the right distance from the viewer. (True with pretty much any intensely-colored object.) On the shadowed side, you can go a bit duller than you think you should, and it'll look right. Save a slightly brighter, warmer touch of that color for the sunlit side.