We spent the day at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and it was an incredible visual experience. It is unbelievable that so much beauty exists underground and is definitely a place that you have to see for yourself.
However, it turns out that you can’t take watercolors down into the caves so this sketch is of the buildings across the street from where we stopped for the night. I really liked the way the setting sun lit the hill and filled the sky with soft color.
We hustled today and arrived at Pine Springs Campground in the Guadalupe Mountains just in time for a quick hike and a gorgeous sunset. It was too cold to paint outside so I sat in the front seat of our camper with the heat on and tried to capture the essence of the moment in a series of quick sketches.
One of my college friends grew up to be a botanist and was able to make a big difference by helping to reclaim habitat along the Colorado River near Yuma. She showed me her reclamation work last fall and it was so gorgeous that I wanted to go back a spend a week there painting. So far this week of painting has eluded me but I was able to camp there last night.
The area is full of birds, especially migratory birds, who rest there while on route back north. Last night we enjoyed a full moon and a gorgeous night sky. This morning we woke to a beautiful dawn along the Colorado River which I attempted to capture in the painting below.
It turns out that reclaimation is good for wildlife and artists too.
They stood so closely as they chopped onions, their body language stating that they clearly were a team and were clearly delighted to be with each other. There was something about this young couple cooking together that got my heart.
At the time all I completed was a line sketch and then later tonight I added color. I surrounded then with dark colors to try and emphasize their togetherness, but I think I overdid the darks.
Stan Kurth, my instructor from the workshop I took in February, said something that I keep pondering. He said that people like a painting with some mystery. If the meaning of a painting is clear, we lose interest and move on, same as we would with a novel or movie. Of course, there are other elements that make a painting intriguing, but I notice as I look at art, that there is a lot of truth to his observation about mystery. Accordingly, I have been working to make things a bit more puzzling in my sketches.
I painted the figure above this morning at a live sketching session, and then this evening made an effort to add mystery by adding a background that I think does not match where a well-dressed woman is likely to be. I, at least, wonder why she is sitting in a room that seems to be under construction, and why she is all dressed up but alone.
What do you call it when a group of plein air painters retreats to shelter due to rain? Rained out, rained in?
Whatever it is, today we painted indoors. These two artists looked through the window and captured the spring garden while I stood back at my easel and surreptitiously painted them.
It was such a misty morning, looking beyond the working artists to the scene beyond the room, the muted colors connected the foliage, mountains, and sky. Taking my cue from the landscape, I simplified and exaggerated the big shapes of the windows, chair, table, plant, and woman, and then, for contrast, included more detail for the man