Sometimes an idea strikes and I have to paint it. Sometimes the image itself is strong and compelling or the idea behind it is the strength. My fractals were all about the idea. I didn’t know where I was going. But lately I have been obsessed with an image. Not an idea or a concept, but a real place… a real image. And the hardest part about painting from the real is trying to do justice to the real. I really like abstract and non objective… it is liberating and freeing! No need to recreate the real… I can paint outside the lines. I can choose colors I never saw, I can paint by feel and gut and it’s somewhat mindless. For me that’s true, not sure about other artists. However, I can’t say I prefer abstract… there is a meditation to painting with your eyes and not your heart. By that, I mean, I spend a lot of time looking at the image of what I am painting and for the first time EVER… that looking was at a computer screen. A modern process I had not embraced before this image.
THIS image… oh, it was so brilliantly beautiful; I wanted to, no, I had to, capture the moment. It’s a photo of a sliver of time… just as the sun peeks out over the edge of a mountain in Colorado. I’m not sure which one… but the photographer will research that for me. She’s a bit busy right now, but she did give permission for me to use her photo so I could try to capture where she was on that early morning last month. My photographer is a young woman by the name of Ashley Lowe (trail name: Iguana) and I met her last spring on the coast of Oregon where she was giving a lecture on her 2011 thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.
A “thru hiker” is someone who finishes a long trail. In our country, we have 3 major trails that run North to South, two of which go border to border from Canada to Mexico. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and the Appalachian Trail (ACT). I’ve done a few bits of the PCT and ACT and am awed by the drive and determination it takes to actually finish one of these endeavors. I loved hearing Ashley’s tale of the trail and she had a wonderful video of the hike as well. You can watch it yourself here:
She graciously allowed us all to friend her on Facebook and watch as she tackles her next big thru hike, the CDT. Remember the part where I said she was busy right now? She is actually getting close to the end right now as I write this post. I’ve been amazed at how she is able to upload photos and keep in touch as she hikes thousands of miles through such rugged and remote trails. It’s been inspiring and has refueled my own interest in returning to backpacking (another story all together). But last month, she took a photo from high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains that rocked me. I had to paint it. I won’t post the photo… it’s not fair to compare the two, but I will say that the colors in her photo were more subtle that what I chose. Artist’s license and all that.
Ashley was kind enough (and even a little excited) to grant me permission to use her brilliant photo. I sketched it out, posted a photo of the outline and got to work. Which is why my blog has been a bit quiet lately. One of her followers made a comment about my “paint by numbers” sketch, but really, that just says how old the guy is. Do they even make paint by numbers anymore?
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this painting because I am using a glazing technique (sometimes called “Old Masters”) that requires layers of thin washes. Fortunately modern oil painters have fast drying mediums to mix into their paint, so I don’t have to wait months, but still, it is a time consuming process. And because it is, I have decided to post a picture of Golden Dawn in progress. I am getting close to the end, I want to add some shadows and layer in some depth, but for the most part it’s time to share. When I get an exact location from Ashley (other than it was near the Twin Lakes) and I get all the final layers in place I will repost. But for now… enjoy my latest obsession.