The Dallas Divide – near Telluride, Day Five – “A most wonderful feeling!” My goose bumps almost made me faint. Here I am in this most beautiful place, a painter, and even after 30 years – It feels so good to feel like this, to paint, to create.
As I was finishing this painting, a mountain bluebird landed atop a fence post. He was almost cerulean in color not cobalt as I had seen before. He waited for me to paint him in! Incredible, thank you! The moment this happened, the light for the rest of the day failed… bright sunlight and colorful shadow – faded to grey. It was at this moment that I realized… “I am a painter, I am a painter… say it three times – I am a painter!”
My painting trip has been a great adventure to this point…Driving over the Dallas Divide was so inspiring! Painting the Dallas Divide – early spring in the high mountain air. Then the grey sky and wind were back on the scene. Wind is not a plein air painter’s friend. My large canvas becomes a sail catching the wind. As the conditions were not good for painting, I found myself wandering in the grey cold.
Then it happened! Out in the middle of a lost aspen forest I found a couple friends. These old trucks had been at rest in this forest for many years. They were both covered with thick dust and leaf mold. I dusted them off and painted them. Both Chevy trucks with wonderful chrome grill work, one orange and one green.
This was a crowning achievement to my painting trip! As I painted in the wind and sleet, the aspen trees groaned and cried, even screamed as the wind made them rub together. For a quiet, still lost place – there was much noise and a great ruckus of sound and fury. Behind the background of aspens lay the great snowy mountains – hidden but found. Now time to head home.
As soon as I arrived in Crested Butte, I stopped to paint the first thing that interested me – (instead of wasting time roaming around, thinking a better view was around the corner) – a wonderful, old leaning barn in the backyard of Shaun and Dawn Horne, owners of Oh Be Joyful Gallery. What caught my eye was the dark barn in contrast against the lighter, pile of dirty white melting snow – many contrasts of color and temperature.
Immediately after finishing the barn painting, I wandered around to the front of the house; across the street was a white house with the green and red trim. The old house was surrounded by snow which had slide off the roof, gathering over the winter. The day was very cold with little sunshine. This charming “white” house was very colorful, very cool and wonderful to paint.
The skies darkened and it began to snow. With a few more hours still left in the day, I set up to paint, just off main street (Elk Street), the community church with Mount Crested Butte in the background. As the snow fell, I painted – oil paint and snow (oil and water) don’t mix. Wanting to paint in the snow was why I had come to the area.
End of first day – a good day, this was going to be a great painting trip. I just felt it! Three plein air paintings completed! Tired, I was looking forward to what the next day would bring.
On my last day in Crested Butte, I painted on Elk Avenue again, this time in the sunshine – but still cold! I choose the old white gas station with green trim, an odd shaped building, now a museum. A passerby took my photo as I painted and sent it to me. I also was painting with a new painter friend, Nicholas Reti, who lives and shows at Oh Be Joyful Gallery in Crested Butte, here he is talking with a friend painting on the corner.
I was working outdoors on a 30 x 40 canvas, the wind was beginning to pick up; and I needed to be on my way to Telluride. As I was trying to finish a group of school kids with their teacher came by and halted in line, gathering gathering to regroup. I quickly took a picture of the colorful group as I was packing up. The painting still needed something? That night in my Telluride studio, I worked from the photo on my computer and added the kids… here are pics of the painting before and after this addition.
Crested Butte – Day Two, it snowed all night; and I awoke to much white stuff all around! I set up to paint main street (AKA: Elk Avenue). I worked fast trying to capture the street before it became mushy and brown with muddy dirt – and I had to hurry as parked cars would soon obstruct the view.
The snow continued; and I changed locations to the edge of town where a group of old barns are. The sky was darkened and grey with the snowfall. I painted a simple scene with a very strong composition of the structure of the barn against the snowy grey sky.
As I painted the black crows would caw at me and fly about. At the end of the painting they posed for me and I put them in the grey sky. Just in time as my feet and hands were getting cold and worn from the elements. A good day of snow painting – plein air at its best. A wonderful time, alone lost in the snowfall.
SHARING THE JOURNEY DAY THREE
Crested Butte – Day Three Morning painting – plein air – after the snow storm, Barns and Mount Crested Butte in background. Chilly, cold, crisp – blinding sunshine and blue shadows. A 30 x 36 to start the day of painting! My adrenalin rushed and heart pounded as I painted like a madman. I painted quick and furious – to capture this simple pristine moment. Success! I still get goose bumps when I look at this painting!
Afternoon sunshine appears – winds approach. Plein air in the snow, heavy snow the day and night before. Wonderful simple composition, the old Crested Butte barn atop a hill, dark against the white meadow of snow. A hay catapult and warm willows dress the scene. My easel setup, my plein air studio and painting freshly done.