painting

Miller Springs Plein Air #5: The Explorers

painting
A scene of a couple exploring the area at Miller Springs on New Year’s Day. 8×6″ Acrylic

I got out for another day at Miller Springs to find another good scene.  I think this has become a series now with four previous, recent plein air trips to the area.  I didn’t have to go far this time.  About a quarter mile at the start of the first ravine, I rock hopped down a bit into a area with boulders and trees.  The sun was shining almost directly at me and give great back-lighting to highlight a couple of boulders. With the background cliff in the shadows, the highlights on the boulders stood out even more.  I did a quick sketch of the scene to study the values (lights/darks) for 5-10 min, then started right into the painting.

The initial sketch. Looks like chicken scratch, but if I can see good value from the sketch, only then do I attempt the painting.
The initial sketch. Looks like chicken scratch, but if I can see good value from the sketch, only then do I attempt the painting.

Just as I started painting, a couple walked by and scaled down the 15 foot cliff face (impressive) I was perched on top of.  I asked them if they’d mind climbing on top of the boulder I’m painting and they were happy to help! I took a quick reference pic and then they left, wandering on down the ravine, blazing their own path, carefree.  I paused for a second and thought… rock climbing, bouldering and exploring with someone you love… I bet that happens a lot in heaven. I took another reference pic when they were passing through a picturesque area of the ravine., so it’s possible they be seen again here!

Here's the couple that climbed onto the boulder to help me out.
Here’s the couple that climbed onto the boulder to help me out.

I painted the landscape of the scene in about 3 hours (below):

Here's the scene before adding the couple.
Here’s the scene before adding the couple.

Then I got out my camera to look at the reference pic and put in the couple. The camera kept auto shutting off, so I ended up taking an iPhone pic of the camera screen, a pic of a pic.  You gotta do what ya gotta do, right? It really gave a great sense of scale to the rocks in the area as well as a story, perfect for the day.

I added in the people using the reference photo.
I added in the people using the reference photo.

Usually, I feel a need to touch it up when I get home. I really felt the people deserved things  like hands or feet, or even a shadow to show they’re not transparent ghosts. However,  is just didn’t seem right to add anything later on. The story is told, it “feels” like the area and the even the day with all the new years resolutions to get outside being fulfilled.  Another great day!!

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5 thoughts on “Miller Springs Plein Air #5: The Explorers”

  1. Thanks, for this new adventure, Steve. Great painting! Is it possible to show us your palette as well just to see the colors you are using in every step?

    1. I’d be glad to, thanks for asking! I think of myself as a learning student, so I hesitate to teach, but I’ll tag a little technical section on the ends of posts with a pallet and other info.
      Hope your painting is going well (the one with the birds in the foreground).

  2. That’s very kind of you, Steve! As for my painting with the birds … you were right that its very hard to paint only from imagination … may be its better to paint it over and start a new one (with a photo reference this time).

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