Winter River

Colorado River
Watercolor on 140lb paper, 3.75″ x 5.75″

This scene is copied from a photo I took of the Colorado River in the Rocky Mountains. I think it was a little east of the Upper Gore Canyon, after the canyon opens up into a relatively broad expanse.

The five paints used on this were made from scratch with dry pigments. The palette can be seen on Instagram here. The yellow and ultramarine were only used a little. Mostly it’s zirconium cerulean, red ochre, and mars black. Because the cerulean was weak in mixes, mixing a large amount of it to the mars black produced a useful cool black that was easy to handle and wasn’t overpowering. The granulation from both of those and the red ochre did make it a little difficult to really get the smoothness of the water or the ice in the foreground. This was painted on the back of a piece of 140 lb cold press Arches paper, which I’m starting to prefer over using the front of the paper.

Winter Lookout

Two Deer in Snow
Watercolor on 140 lb paper, 4.25″ x 6″

The setting for this painting is in the same Azure Valley as in the last post, and because I’ve passed through there many times I have many photos from different times of year. One of them had a buck walking through an open area of snow with some scrubby brush and low trees around. It seemed like a good start for a scene, but he was too small and the brush too far away, so I made a few edits to the photo.

Winter Lookout 1 ref 1

After cutting the buck away from the snowy background and positioning him closer to the darker and more interesting shapes of the trees and brush it still seemed too minimal. I did like the contrast of the brown against the cooler background colors, but the lighting on that cloudy day wasn’t very interesting.

Winter Lookout 1 ref 2

These two deer were in that same area, maybe even the same field, but on a different day. I liked their different poses, but they didn’t fit into the vertical format I was planning. By cutting out and repositioning the deer on the right to be next to the deer on the left it helped them fit and also changed the dynamic between them. Now their closeness might better emphasize a sense of togetherness and mutual trust.

Winter Lookout 1 wip

I then drew everything with the lead holder, seen on the far right, with a 7H lead in it. Everything was painted in sections, with each section being mostly finished before moving on. There were a couple of other small brushes used after this photo. The palette for everything was the five color palette I posted on Instagram a few days ago here.

Azure Valley

Rocky Mountain Valley
Watercolor on 140 lb paper, 4.25″ x 6″

This may or may not be the Azure Valley of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. At least, that’s what the train conductor keeps calling it, even though I can’t find the name online. It’s one of the best places on the whole trip through the mountains. There’s often mule deer, elk, and sometimes bald eagles flying or perched on the taller trees. The Colorado River passes through here.

Old Snowy Tree

Snowy Snag
Watercolor on paper, 4.75″ x 6.25″

The palette for this painting is the same as for the last sunrise painting, with all of the same colors being used. There wasn’t a black or grey on the palette, so I made a black by mixing the Prussian blue with the sicklerite (brown) and a more opaque grey using cerulean with sicklerite. For the browns of the tree I mixed quinacridone red, new gamboge (yellow), and more sicklerite. The base coat for the tree was painted using that warm orangish brown mix, and then on top of that some of the black mix was painted in various amounts for the shadows and details.

Vermilion Cloud

Red Morning Cloud
Watercolor and gouache on aquaboard, 5″ x 7″

I have this one photo of a cloud with the morning light on it that’s very similar to this, but not exactly the same, and I wanted to paint something like that. I was especially impressed with how this cloud was dark, which made it stand out from the lighter higher altitude clouds behind it, and had such strong vermilion highlights under it from the sun. That really made it stand out in the sky. The cliffs and trees are made up though, as the original photo had the roofs of houses at the bottom instead.

This was painted on aquaboard, which is like gesso board but made for watermedia. It’s been a long time since I’ve used aquaboard for anything, but it has its advantages. Like Yupo, it’s very easy to rewet and wipe dried paint off of it, but quite not as easily as Yupo can. The palette is the new weekly theme that I posted on Instagram here a couple of days ago. Only the cerulean is gouache, the rest is watercolor. The reason for using gouache for the cerulean is because both of my tubes of cerulean watercolor are experiencing a lot of binder separation, which often happens with cerulean, and it was faster to just use this gouache to fill that role on the palette. It’s very similar, but more opaque.

Blue Evening Forest

Year's End
Watercolor on sketch paper, 8.5″ x 5.25″

Here’s the last post for the year. It’s from a combination of a few photos I took of these trees.

So looking back on this past year’s posts it looks like I’ve been more productive and I hope to keep the pace up in 2017. I wanted to thank all of you guys for your encouragement. Some of you have been following my posts for years now, which I think is amazing, and although I’m not very good at responding I do notice.

Next year less than two days away now. Some of you might be thinking about a New Year’s Resolution. A few might even keep theirs. Positive change really is possible though. You probably can’t tell from looking at my art now, but many years ago before I became a Christian the things I drew were much different and had a lot of blood and gore. God can help make lasting changes in people.

Evening Train in Mountains

Mountain Train at Sunset
Watercolor on 300 lb paper, 4.75″ x 7″

This scene is based on a photo I took in the mountains, but it’s not the exact original scene. I drew it from memory without actually looking at the photo, so some of it is different and the rocks are definitely more monumental in this painting. The palette is the same one from last post, seen on Instagram here. This time all six of the paints were used, though mostly all mixed together for the shadows.

Evening Train in Mountains 1 linework