Saturday, February 23, 2013

Plein Air Painting Workshop Update: Snow in Red Rock Country

6x12, View of Ship Rock oil/panel.
I will get better photos of these and post them at Daily Paintworks
for auction later this week.
Snow comes to Sedona only a few times a winter, and usually it only lasts a day.   This week, however, we had a widespread storm that even dropped significant snow in Scottsdale and Phoenix.   Luckily, I had advanced students who were eager to paint snow.  Cold weather was no problem for the students from Washington State and Taos, New Mexico, and even the student from Phoenix brought warm clothes and did fine with it.  I wore several layers myself - turtleneck, fleece jacket, down vest and down parka, plus corduroy pants, glomitts and what L.L. Bean calls a "Maine Warden's Hat." I stayed toasty-warm.

Snoopy Rock as it is not often seen

Happy, warm students.  We did not build the little snowman; it was already there.
View from the Cultural Park
We had two different types of snow days.  One day, snow squalls drifted over Sedona, obscuring most of the red rocks.  It was an opportunity to figure out how to handle soft edges and subject matter that could simply vanish - and then reappear - without warning.  The other situation was snow on a bright, clear day.  This was a chance to learn how to paint snow in shadow and light.  The trick with snow in shadow is that it must be dark enough to read as shadow but still be light enough to read as snow.  When I run into situations like this, I try to push the brightness of shadowed snow as much as I can but also try keep it in shadow.

On our stormy day, while waiting for things to warm up (it never really did), I did a quick pastel demonstration of Chimney Rock from our studio window. Next, we headed up to Sedona's Cultural Park where there was shelter and a panorama with the Cockscomb butte, Doe Mesa and Bear Mountain in the distance.  I did another pastel of the scene, plus a little oil sketch.

5x7 pastel sketches:  Chimney Rock (top), Cockscomb (bottom)
Cockcomb oil sketch (6x8) on paper.  I did the whole painting in
Torrit Grey (Gamblin) and then added hints of color to "colorize" it.
The vertical lines showing through the paint are an artifact from another
project (this was a scrap piece of paper), and I will eliminate those later.
On the sunny day, we headed right out to paint, even though the temperatures were lower.  We knew that if we stood in sunshine, we'd be comfortable.  We wanted to get closer to the rocks, so we headed up to the Sedona Heritage Park where we had a nice view of Steamboat Rock and Ship Rock.  I did three little paintings there.  The third one, which features an Italian Cypress, is an odd piece, but I needed that cypress to give a proper sense of distance to the rocks.

View from the Sedona Heritage Park

9x12, oil/panel

12x9, oil/panel

My Alla Prima Pochade box
We'll still probably have a few days left of snow on the rocks.  Later today, I'll be taking a beginning plein air class from the Sedona Arts Center out to paint some of it.  Lucky for them, it won't be anywhere near as cold, but we'll still have some snow to paint!

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