Cottonwood Trail Oil On Canvas 24″ x 36″

This painting is from a visit to Crestone, Colorado early last fall. It’s on the west slopes of the Sangre De Christo Mountains, and overlooks what was once the huge Lake Alamosa, and is now a large plain. The Cottonwood Trail heads up into the mountains and I was struck by this exquisite scene. The early sun was just starting to rise high enough above the mountains to illuminate the magical world I was in, and I decided to make a painting of it. It’s crazy complicated, but kind of perfect, and I was sort of entranced by the combination of landscape and light. Here are the stages along the way:

Here again is the primatura, or underpainting. I didn’t want to show white underneath as I painted, so did a very loose approximation of blues and greys before starting.
These days I’m using alcohol based permanent markers to sketch out the scene. This is just the beginning. I recognize that there is something wonderful in this early stage, and hope that after perhaps a few more years of painting, i will be able to retain something of this sort of mystical image in the finished painting.
Here the drawing – the marker drawing – is fairly well along, but still nowhere near completion.
Now the drawing is pretty complete, and the real work begins.
First I’m working in the darker areas, trying to put some foundation in.
I’ve done more some work in the leaves and the water in the distance, and begun laying in parts of the foreground.
The thing is, there are lots of areas addressed, but there is so much still to do! A little more work on the water in the foreground. The leaves are are a little loose and I don’t feel the light hitting the leaves at the top center, and the leaves along the edges aren’t right yet…
This is kind of getting there, but I still don’t feel it’s quite right. The next stage is to make little changes all over…
It sometimes, as in this case, takes me a while before I can see the painting enough to go in and make little improvements here and there to where it feels complete. A lot of the leaves have been more clearly delineated, and there is more clarity in the light and dark areas. The foreground had little areas where I discovered I had sort of forgotten about them, then adding detail to the leaning tree in the foreground was one of the last steps.

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