Winter, East Fork Jemez River

A couple of winters ago, I went through the canyon of the Jemez River near Valles Caldera in New Mexico. I wore some cheap waders and some good crampons, as the landscape was filled with ice and snow. This is a watercolor towards the end of the day from pretty far in the canyon, but out of the rocks. I had been following a coyote for most of the way, and wanted to include his (her) tracks. Here are some of the stagesof the painting along the way.

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It’s always tricky knowing how to begin a complicated scene. In this case, I put in some of the foreground snow and the warm reflection on the water before starting on the trees.
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Some of the darker trees in the middle are indicated, and the pattern of ripples on the water. 
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This gives an indication of the slow process of painting the crazy detail of snow covered forest!.
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Now that things have started to be in the right place, I realized I needed to bring things to the right value, so the river gets darker and more accurate now.
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This is a photograph from my phone. The trick that I use for complicated scenes is to print the photo from which I’m working at the same size as the painting, and then cut it into little pieces that I can use for reference when I work.
East Fork Jemez River
Here’s the final painting after being scanned at high resolution.The final steps were to finish the coyote tracks and to add an ultramarine blue wash to the foreground snow.

6 thoughts on “Winter, East Fork Jemez River

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