Plein Air Spring-Fed Puddles at Miller Springs (Belton, TX)

 

MSPuddleStudy
No matter how dry it is, these puddles are there at least 50 feet above the lake water level and about 100 feet above the river level behind the dam.

A few days ago I headed out to my favorite painting spot, Miller Springs, in search of some inspiration.  Normally, I wander down into the ravine where creeks and and marsh grass grow, over to the grassland with cacti and golden natural grasses of Texas or to the 50 foot limestone cliffs carved out by a past ocean.  However, this time I stayed up top where people don’t often take notice.  This area is dry, with limestone rock like a big table 10 acres across with soil so thin, half of the field is simply exposed rock; the rest has maybe 1/2″ of soil.  Amazingly, pockets and cracks in the rock have spring water flowing through them making a consistent puddle 50 feet above the lake level, or 80 to 100 feet above the river level behind the lake dam.  It doesn’t seem possible, but for the entire time I’ve gone there, there’s always been this puddle.  So I sat and painting this intriguing aspect of the park.

The technical side of it gave me fits. Dry winds and fast drying acrylics makes it almost unbearable to paint. It was what I experienced with the last plein air painting in Gunnison, CO, but with TX heat.  I was reduced to basically doing a watercolor study with transparent dashed of color in may layers.  It’s like trying to use that really old tape that lost it’s stick years ago, but you’re too stubborn to let it go.  I’ve since solved the dilemma with more expensive slow-dry paints that you’ll see in my next post.  It’s worth every penny.  When I noticed my arms getting notably lobster colored, I called it a day. Phew. This was a battle of wits! The results of my new farmer tan is going to have rave reviews at the beach.  Look out ladies!

Here’s the final painting:

~6x8" acrylic study at Miller Springs
~6×8″ acrylic study at Miller Springs
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