Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sketchbooking From the Tailgate

So I decided to brave the heat and head out to paint on location. I brought lots of water and a spray bottle to mist myself. The temperature has been between 102 and 108 degrees in the afternoon for about a month now so I have been working on oils in the studio primarily. I haven't been setting up an easel out in the field because when I stay in the shade of the top half of the back door of my car I have a larger shade area than with my umbrella. An old paint tarp thrown across the top of the door helps extend the shade as well. The above photo shows a watercolor of the Calico Hills done in a Canson Montval sketchbook. I really like this paper as it has just the right amount of surface texture and sizing. I spent about an hour on the sketch. I had taken an hour to set-up, but to be fair that time included a leisurely eaten breakfast while watching the rock climbers ascend the cliff face to my right.

This is a snapshot of the scene I was painting. Most of the plants on these hillsides were consumed in a lightening fire a couple of years ago. But the trees and shrubs in the gully are growing back nicely. I read in the Spring-Summer issue of Red Rock Canyon Keystone Visitor Guide that it takes 40 years for these plant communities to recover. Sometimes I paint the recovering areas with the mature growth I remember from before the fire.

This watercolor is from last weekend. It is a study of the big boulder where indigenous people left their handprints. The prints are called pictographs which are paintings or drawings done on rock. It is believed that these pictographs are 800 years old.

This is a snapshot of the scene. It's difficult to see the pictographs on the rock in this photo because they are located were the shadow side and light side meet at this time of day. I emphasized them in my painting though. This was another nice morning of painting as it included several interesting conversations with visitors. One family was from Israel and they told me that the topography of this valley is similar to that back home. Another family was from Japan and they were so appreciative of watercolor they made a point of showing it to their children before heading down the trail.