Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Down in the Valley and up on a Mountain Ridge

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
Here are two paintings made recently in the July heat. The first one is of marsh willows near the lake. The temperature that day was over 100° F. The paper towels I use to wipe paint off of brushes became damp from sweat running down my arm as I worked. 

When I first arrived at this spot, some ducks in a little canal (shown in the painting) were startled. The ducks, which included a few adults, some half-grown ducklings, and some very young ducklings, took off up the stream. That is, all but the littlest ducklings, who seemed unalarmed by everything. The group of little fluffy yellow ducklings paddled around through the duckweed apparently unconcerned by my presence. I kind of enjoyed their company.

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
One way to beat the summer heat is to head up into the mountains. The second painting was painted on a granite ridge way up Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains.

I'm not real familiar with Big Cottonwood Canyon, so after parking in a ski resort parking lot I just picked a trail and began hiking, confident I would find something to paint. The steep trail wound up past big stands of aspens and evergreens, and through alpine meadows covered with dazzling wildflowers of every color. I came across several scenes that would have been worth a painting, but I could see a couple trees high up on a ridge and kept pushing on to reach them. Storm clouds moved in, but I set to painting anyways. 

As I painted, I noticed that about a hundred and fifty yards or so down the slope from me, a moose lay at the edge of a meadow near a thick stand of evergreens. The moose's ears were constantly flicking, no doubt against mosquitoes like the ones that were beginning to bother me. Other wildlife I saw that day were a couple mule deer in their red summer coats, and a golden-mantled ground squirrel that briefly ventured out onto the granite boulders I was painting. 

The storm clouds never dropped rain nor produced any lightning. The storm of mosquitoes, however, was becoming nearly intolerable. By the end of the painting I was killing mosquitoes two or three per swat. Unfortunately, my insect repellent was with my sunscreen, forgotten and left back in the car. In spite of that, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and the wonderful beauty of the alpine meadows and granite peaks and ridges. I'm definitely looking forward to more painting trips up into both Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyons, next time with insect repellent, of course.

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