Friday, March 29, 2013

Late Winter Trail - East Bench

Late Winter Trail - East Bench, 6" x 8" Oil on Board
The town I live in sits in a wide valley which once was the bottom of a huge prehistoric lake. Lake Bonneville once covered much of what is now Utah and parts of Idaho and Nevada. Today what is left of the lake is mere puddles, comparatively speaking. The Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, and Sevier Lake are what remain of the once great Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, and Sevier Lake isn't even there all of the time! Besides these present-day lakes, other evidences of the prehistoric lake are imprinted into the landscape. The waves of  Lake Bonneville washed shorelines into the bases of the Wasatch Front and many of the Basin and Range Mountains. Many of these old shorelines still show where the boundaries of Lake Bonneville were tens of thousands of years ago. Looking up from the town, you can see these prehistoric shorelines a couple hundred feet or so up the mountain slope. 

The old shorelines make natural pathways around parts of the valley. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail (what I call the East Bench Trail) follows large parts of the old shore. It's a popular place for hikers, mountain bikers and joggers, and provides a place in nature with spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains. It's also a place I go to paint from time to time. The painting above was made a couple weeks ago just above town looking south along the trail toward Mt. Nebo, many miles away.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Profile on Tan Paper

14" x 11" Charcoal and White Pencil on Tan Paper.
People who run drawing sessions like the one I go to every week often get their relatives to model for the class. Yesterday it was the 19 year old grandson of the person who runs the drawing session. I've never had to stay stock-still for twenty minutes at a time several times in a session, but I'm impressed when the person modeling does, like yesterday's subject did. Maybe he's a still-hunter.

The new drawing pad I've been trying out is by Strathmore, and is called "Toned Tan." I also have it in gray. Toned paper provides sort of a middle tone, allowing you to work up the darks and punch in the highlights more expeditiously. I wish the paper was a little less grainy, and I ought to find a pencil that has a warmer tone for highlights, more in line with the tan paper. But I think these drawing pads are going to find a lot of use for me in drawing sessions and field sketches.

The drawing sessions I attend are held in the north end of the Springville Recreation Facilities Building, 443 S. 200 E. in Springville, Utah. It's directly east of, and across the street from the Springville Museum's parking lot. The sessions are every Thursday evening from 5:30 to 8:30, and cost $8 a session. Yesterday's subject wore street clothes, but the models often come from all over the world, all decked out in colorful ethnic outfits. Either way, it's a great opportunity to sharpen your drawing or painting skills. Anyone looking for a place to practice their art is welcome to come and work in whatever style and medium you prefer. We sometimes even have sculptors working in clay!

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

(Edited to clarify second sentence in first paragraph.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Charcoal Sketch - Japanese Woman

Charcoal and "White Charcoal" Pencils on Gray Paper
Here's another sketch from a past drawing session. I often set up with the light angled so it illuminates only a few small areas of the model's face visible from my point of view. Most of the model is in shadow, but the contrast of the illuminated planes, set as they are around the eyes and other facial features, carry the weight of the drawing's interest.

When drawing with a set-up like this it's helpful to wear a hat with a good brim to keep the light source from shining directly into your eyes. A baseball cap works for me!

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Outcrops and Talus

Outcrops and Talus, 8" x 6" Oil on Panel
Instead of painting a wide open scene last Saturday, I narrowed the subject for this painting to some outcrops and talus at the mouth of Rock Canyon. Rock Canyon is a popular local spot in the Wasatch Mountains for hikers and rock climbers. The lowest section of the canyon is desert, surrounded by towering sandstone and limestone cliffs. A little ways up the canyon the trail passes through the heavily wooded canyon bottom. A few miles more, and the steep mountain scenery becomes more open, with scattered stands of aspen and evergreen. If you go farther than most people do, the treeless alpine zone provides stunning views thousands of feet above the valley.

The upper reaches of Rock Canyon are deep in avalanche prone snow right now, so I decided to paint in the lower end of the canyon, where the south and southwest slopes are free of snow. The painting above is of one of the few snow free areas in the canyon. The quartzite talus provides the lightest tones in the painting.