A Week of Painting ~ Part 1

Black and White Value Studies
Back in February I learned that one of my favorite artists, Marc Hanson, was going to be holding a workshop here in Colorado.  I quickly signed up and was blessed to get a spot in the class!  The workshop took place this past week!  For the first day of class, we focused on doing value studies, learning to see in terms of terms of black and white values.  These are the 4 that I did.

Lily Pond
I choose this lovely spot for the first two studies.

Haystack Mountain
Later in the afternoon, I painted from this view of Haystack Mountain.

Marc Hanson ~ Oil Painting Demo
Our day finished with a painting demo by Marc.  I think I learned as much from watching him paint as I did from the exercises we had done!

Painting Value Studies
Day two was spent at Golden Ponds in Longmont.  Our assignment for the day was to paint the same scene four times.  The first was a three value black and white study.  The second was to add the half tones and highlights to the three value study ~ still in black and white.

Value Studies in B/W & Color
For the third, we switched to working in color, but stayed with a three value study.  Then for the fourth, we once again added half tones and highlights.  I learned so much from this exercise and found myself thinking back to it throughout the rest of the week.

Twin Sisters from Golden Ponds
We had a little free painting time at the end of the day, so I turned around and painted this view of Twin Sisters.  I didn't get it finished, but was able to get enough information down that if I wanted, I could do a larger painting from this study.

Left Hand Creek
On the third day, we headed a short ways up into the mountains to Buckingham Park.  Our assignment on this day was to think about concept, to focus our paintings on an idea or thought, rather than just randomly painting whatever we saw.  I loved the way that Left Hand Creek flowed around the bend through a tunnel of trees.  I tend to work small and these paintings are just 5"x7".  One of the things I'm learning is that I really need to be painting larger!

Buckingham Park "Cabin"
For this one, I loved the idea of following a path to a cabin in the woods.  In this case, the "cabin" is really an outhouse, but it has a great setting!

Marc Hanson Pastel Demo at Buckingham Park
We finished the afternoon with a demonstration from Marc of pastel painting.

Marc Hanson ~ Pastel Demo
Pastels are a medium which I am completely unfamiliar with, so it was a treat to watch it come to life!

Marc Hanson ~ finished pastel
Here it is complete!  Just gorgeous!

Nocturne ~ Downtown Niwot
The day wasn't quite over though!  We spent the evening in the town of Niwot, where we painted nocturnes!  Our light for painting came from the street lights and book lights clipped to our easels.  It's a real challenge painting in the dark armed only with a tiny light!  The colors all come out slightly different once seen in daylight!


A Prairie Journey

Nebraska Sandhills
With a few days off from work, I headed north east from Colorado, into Nebraska, and north into South Dakota following the same roads that my family traveled often when I was a girl.  In those days the road through the Nebraska Sandhills was narrow and winding with no shoulder.  If one pulled off the road for a break, the sand was so soft that the car became stuck, so one kept carefully to the narrow road.  Cars were not air conditioned and the Sandhills were brutally hot and dry.  We hung cloth over the back and side windows of the car to keep it cooler and kept a thermos of ice water in the car, but inevitably it was melted and warm before we were halfway through the Sandhills.  The journey seemed long and difficult, and I can remember how hard it was to find a place to stop for a cool drink.  Today, the journey is easy with a broad easy road, many places to stop along the way and lovely air conditioning in the car.  It gives one a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery.  The hills were beautifully green for late July and blushed with a covering of yellow flowers on the southern slope of the hills.

Sandhills Wildlife Refuge
In the northern Sandhills, the Valentine Wildlife Refuge has numerous lakes where it protects vital habitat for migratory birds and other wild life.  The lakes and ponds shine like sapphire pools among the hills of green grass!

In South Dakota, the road travels through the hills of the Missouri River as it traverses the state.  This is another road that is much changed from days of old when it wound for miles among the hills.  The old road was beautiful, but it was long.  Once again, the new road is smooth and wide and much quicker.  The vistas are still gorgeous!

Farm Buildings in SD
I spent the better part of a week visiting my Aunts and Uncles, one set in southeast South Dakota and the other in the west near the Black Hills.  How good it was to sit and visit and to simply be there with them!  When I got home, I realized that not once did I take my camera out to take a photo of their beloved faces.  Though I did take a few photos in the area where my Dad's family was from.  It's lovely farm country with many gorgeous barns.

I do love white barns.  Much inspiration for future paintings!  The weather was cool and cloudy most of the time I was there.  In fact they set records for low temperatures!  Imagine, 45 degrees for the overnight low in July!  One day it barely made it to 63 degrees during the day.  We wore sweaters the whole time.  

Amber Waves of Grain
The wheat and oat harvest was well underway so I was lucky to get this photo!

Field of Barley
This field of barley is also ready for harvest.  The saturated colors of the landscape were stunning.

Summer Storm in Western SD
As I drove west across South Dakota, the skies cleared except for large thunderstorms that swept across the landscape.  Out here where there are no trees, the scale of the thunderheads is easily seen.  They are immense and powerful!

Elevator by Olive Fenenga
It was lovely to revisit some of the paintings that my Aunt, Olive Fenenga, painted.  She was a fabulous artist, painting mostly scenes of rural South Dakota.  I think this one of a grain elevator may have been one of her best.  It certainly caught the evening light of the prairie that I remember so well.

Bee Hive
I heard many people lamenting about how few bees they had seen this year and how poor their gardens were as a result.  But then my Uncle found this beehive tucked in a tree!  We stood and watched the bees for some time.  At first I thought it must be paper wasps, but no, it really was bees!  The nest was so beautifully made.

Brotherhood of Presidents
On the way home, I drove south through the Black Hills and stopped to see Mount Rushmore, which I hadn't seen in probably 20 years or more.  Still a fun place to stop, though I miss the old road which wound through tunnels in the rock that framed views of the sculptures.