Moonrise, Chama River

I wander around at night sometimes, partially to be out in the wilderness at dawn or twilight, but also because the night itself is so powerful and magical to me. This is overlooking the Chama River as the moon rose early one morning; I was actually heading somewhere else but had to stop. This is another painting ( 3′ x 3′) that I started as an acrylic, and then was able to finish once I started painting in oils.

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Just the beginnings of a sketch, using colored pencils on a prepared panel.
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Starting to put in some values with the water, and acrylic markers for the shadows. The milky way ended up disappearing.
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One of the ten times that I would paint the sky and the reflections…
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Now with the background details begun there is a cartoon, giving a sense of the piece.
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New sky, new water…
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Another new sky…
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Okay, sky is massaged back into place. I just began using oils on the distant hills, making them darker so that I would have to balance everything to that. It’s amazing how much harder this would have been as a watercolor!
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Here, a lot of the painting has been repainted in oils. It’s still a little cartoony, though, and the trees aren’t right and are too dark…
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The trees are participating in the moonlight now, and everything has been touched. Not right yet, but it’s easier to see what to do once one gets closer all around.
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Here’s the final painting. 

Morning, Canyonlands

This is a large (3′ x 4′) painting that I started a while ago and just finished, showing the valley and mesas on the way to the southern entrance to Canyonlands National Park one morning. It’s from a car trip back from San Francisco when my wife Melinda and I traveled through Utah, where she is from originally. I began it as an acrylic painting and got stuck for a while. Even using Open Acrylics, I had a hard time feathering edges and gradations of transparent color. Once I started painting in oils, the problems that I couldn’t overcome using acrylic seemed solvable to me, (still hard but solvable) so I was able to finish.

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This is the initial sketch in acrylics.
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Still initial work, with the sky darkened, and a little more detail added. 
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Right about here was when I realized how hard this was all going to be.
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I slowly started working on the foreground grasses and the mid ground line of trees. There is no way to do this without music.

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Much more work on the foreground in this stage, and a little re-working of the sky and clouds. For someone who has worked for so long in watercolors, to be able to mess around and revise is pretty amazing! (Although it’s still pretty rough)
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Now the sky and  clouds and part of the mesas have been repainted in oils.
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This is the final painting, with everything reworked – and finally a proper scan as well.

Big Ivy North Carolina

These are from a lovely foggy autumn day in Big Ivy, North Carolina driving up state road 2173 to Douglas Falls. I was visiting my sister and her family in Asheville and my brother in law and he took me to this special place.

This was a year ago, and I was too depressed with the political news, and a beloved dog dying to post them, so I waited a year to do it. It’s such a lovely place that I didn’t want to not post them! And now of course we are surrounded by two new young canine family members…

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On the foggy road up Big Ivy
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As we were walking to Douglas Falls, the fog cleared for a little while and revealed this lovely view.
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Douglas Falls in fog…
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..and after the fog cleared
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Peach Orchard Creek
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Staire Branch in the fog
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Walker Branch
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Little Andy creek
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Walker Branch after the fog rolled back in
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A view from the trees near Asheville

Seattle & the Olympic Peninsula

My lovely and talented wife, Melinda Tidwell, recently traveled to Seattle to work with the great Carla Sonheim (https://www.carlasonheim.com/) to film a series of online collage/composition workshops. I took the opportunity to wander around up there and here are some photographs from those rambles.

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This is the ferry to Southworth on the first morning. It was delightfully (for a Santa Fean) overcast and rainy as we headed west to the Olympic Peninsula)
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This is the view from near Union, Washington looking over the Hood Canal towards the mountains.
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This is overlooking Lake Cushman above Hoodsport, Washington.
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Looking back towards Seattle from the 6:10am ferry to Bainbridge Island.
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The beautiful Lake Crescent.
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Elwha River at the entrance to Olympic National Park, which unfortunately had the road closed this day.
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Ruby Beach, on the Pacific. Time to turn around.
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Looking south along the shore.
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Next morning I headed out to the southern entrance to Olympic National Park at Staircase on the Skokomish River.
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This is a wildly beautiful place, and of course I didn’t encounter a soul.
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Some of the amazing staircase rapids on the Skokomish River.
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End of the day on the Skokomish River, near where it enters Hood Canal.
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Looking back towards the mountains as I head to the ferry.
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An Edward Hopper moment on the ferry.
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The night skyline of Seattle as the ferry approaches.

People’s Choice Award

I got some lovely news yesterday: my watercolor, Winter, East Fork Jemez River, won the People’s Choice Award at the New Mexico Watercolor Society Fall Show! It also won another small award, but I’m especially pleased by the People’s Choice Award.

East Fork Jemez River

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.
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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.