Meeker Sunrise

Meeker Sunrise, 20" x 16", mounted UART 320

Meeker Sunrise, 20″ x 16″, mounted UART 320

Hard pastel and alcohol underpainting

Hard pastel and alcohol underpainting

Reference photo

Reference photo

Today I worked on a commissioned painting that I offered to our church auction. It’s taken several years for the purchaser to get back to me, then we decided that I’d use my own photo.  This is Mt. Meeker in Colorado. I was staying in Allenspark, giving a small pastel workshop and I took this photo early one morning.  The photos that the purchaser had were even less interesting than mine!  So I was happy that she agreed to let me use this one.

Compositionally, I knew that I had to make a lot of changes. To begin with, I knew right away that it would be a vertical rather than horizontal.  I also did a lot of tree pruning! I chose to keep in the large evergreen on the left, but shortened or removed some of the aspens.  And, perhaps most importantly, I moved the main cloud to the right side, and added a smaller one by the mountain.  I also added a distant mountain on the left, with a hint of light on it, which I thought made it more interesting.

Since this is UART, I was able to do an underpainting with hard pastel and alcohol, which was a very big help!  You can see how dark the bottom is: a combination of dark blue, violet, and dark cool green.  I used a Caran d’ache almond color for the sky to add some underlying brightness.  I used a warm under cool/cool under warm approach to the mountain, using a reddish brown under the violet, and light violet under the orange.

For the sky, I began with Ludwig aqua, the a very pale Ludwig violet, then a softer very light green that added some yellow to it. I also used the lightest of the Blue Earth violets on the sky.  I LOVED doing the clouds!  So much fun. Have to get back to sky pictures!

The mountain was easy. But then I had to put the dark tree in over the heavily painted sky.  I used soft pastels, trying to keep the branches fine as possible. A the bottom I used my trusty Ludwig eggplant to brush in color, then added various greens around it. The tree trunks with light on them helped break up the foreground.

All of this took 2.5 hours!  I was really quite pleased with it.  Fortunately, I had a clear idea in my head as to what I would do with it.  I hope the buyer likes it!

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