Plein Air in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

"Morning Glow in Palo Duro Canyon" 8x19" acrylic on masonite.  This was a scene at 8am from the Fortress Cliff camping area.
“Morning Glow in Palo Duro Canyon” 8×19″ acrylic on masonite. This was a scene at 8am from the Fortress Cliff camping area.

I just got back from a week learning plein air painting with John Cogan for five days.  I’m still working on writing the adventure to share. I was so focused on learning how to see “color value”, “transitions” and “color temperature” that my memory of the week is a blur. I now have little chunks of time floating around in a vague order of when they occurred.  Luckily, the single lessons and adventure moments themselves are cemented clearly as if I was still there.  Funny how memory works.  Thanks John for all the teaching and your friendship!!

You can see the canyon in the background. The light had changed dramatically from 8am to 10am, but you can roughly how it compares.
You can see the canyon wall in the background. The light had changed dramatically from 8am to 10am, but you can get an idea of my view. I did a few tweaks back home, but the painting was about 90% done. 

This painting was done the next day after camping for five days and painting about 10 hours per day.  It’s sort of a summary of many lessons applied into a single painting.  I was exhausted, but still very inspired by the beauty of the canyon. so I grabbed a panorama panel I’d quickly made before the trip and did my best.  The panel was a dark color, unprepared for acrylic paint and I found out it also had a permanent maker line that bled through my paints like a loud watermark. However, it did nothing to take away from the grandeur of the scene and enjoyment of slapping down the paint as quickly as I could before the light changed too much.  It’ll be a perfect color study for a larger studio painting!

There will be more Palo Duro paintings to come.  I hope you grab your calendar and set a plan to visit this area, especially in the morning or evening when the light is just about the duck behind the rim.  I call it a “magic hour” when the walls start to glow in brilliant oranges, reds, yellows… it too much for words.

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2 thoughts on “Plein Air in Palo Duro Canyon State Park”

  1. Stephen I was wondering if you would consider another camping trip to Palo Duro Canyon soon while the fall weather is optimal. Jim Kendallhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/17402076@N03/with/6810559385/

    1. Sorry for the delay, James! It’s been pretty busy lately getting ready for a show in late October. I’d love to get out there again as well as paint at Caprock, but it’s probably going to be next year before I can get free for a trip up there. If I spend a day or two, it’s just a teaser. Next time I’m heading that way it’ll be for at least a four day camping trip. I’ll let ya know! The morning/evening lighting in that place is unreal!!

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