My husband and I took a drive over Trial Ridge Road above Rocky Mountain National. It’s a drive I remember fondly from my childhood. But that late June day a storm was brewing. I should have known. Foul weather is perfectly normal in June, at 10,000 feet and even lower. I have been snowed on backpacking in July at 7,000 feet.
But Stephen and I drove happily on. We enjoyed the brisk cool weather and admired the clouds, ignoring their warning. The later half of the drive was white knuckles all the way. The coming storm brought so much snow and wind that we couldn’t see enough to turn around. Road construction in progress but temporarily abandoned for the snow, added to the tension. We stopped with relief at would have been the half way point of the drive, the Visitor’s Center. The Center has a lovely wall of windows for panoramic views. But that day they showed white, white and white. So we drove back down the way we had come, slowly carefully, tensely. Twenty minutes later we were below the clouds and our experience was already becoming funny.
The I took photos for this painting at the last overlook before we should have turned back. Shortly after that, all was white.
I used the rough side Canson Mi-Teins gray paper for this painting. Mi-Tieins paper has a chicken wire looking texture on the rough side which I intended to use for texture in the foreground. Like detail and warm colors, texture advances.
I began by blocking in the mountains, big and small in hard pastels. I lowered back range a little to emphasize the looming foreground mountain. In retrospect I could have brought it down even further.
Then I worked down and from left to right. Once again I worked the sky in PanPastels: phthalo blue tint, white, ultramarine, and magenta. I added some blue and purple soft pastels as well. The back range of mountains came next beginning with dark blue shade and lightening it up until it look far enough back. The darker background hills came next.
Finally I added the mountain in dark blues and greens. I used burnt sienna tint to add the lighter areas, but color contrasted oddly with the sky, so I added light violets and greens as well. When I got the mountain modeled to my satisfaction I added the trees with a final layer of dark green soft pastels which I applied lightly to allow the texture of the paper to show through. Lower down some of the gray paper itself shows through.
Prints available at Fine Art America.com.