Plein Air Colorado Springs, Red Rock Canyon Open Area


Another path, another painting. I love it here. Red Rock Canyon Open Area is just at the base of the mountains in Colorado Springs, very near Garden of the Gods.  It’s hard to image loving anything more than Garden of the Gods, but this might have it beat. There’s more space, less tourists and tons of mountain biking trails that link up all the way to Pikes Peak. My kind of place.

When going from the main parking lot, this is around the left hand side of the loops if you look at the trail maps at the entrance. I only made it about 1/5th of a mile before having to stop and paint.  Yes, it’s that good of a spot for plein air. If you are a plein air artist reading this, put this on your bucket list.

I spent about three hours on this painting the first day and then saw the acrylic paint darkened a lot in the sky when it dried, so I went back today to finish. It was just the right time right lighting, the paint was on my pallet… no brushes! If you see parts of sunflower pods (brush) and tree bark (knife) along with finger smudges in the acrylic, that’s why.  I managed to get it almost to a finishing point within an hour and the storm clouds rolled in.  So I packed up my gear and put the last few brushstrokes on at home.

Here’s the reference:


And here’s the painting on site:


In walking a bit further in the first trip, I think I found what will be my next big painting. It’s unbelievable beautiful. (yes, this was a cliffhanger).

Artist Chat:

I expanded my pallet a bit! I found that ultramarine and yellow ochre are just right for background mountains, and ultramarine and pyrolle orange with a touch of yellow ochre (not much!) is much better for the rocks than I’ve found previously. That “red” is hard to get. The other items were Titanium White, Lemon yellow, hansa yellow, Ivory black, and crimson red. The lemon yellow and ivory black mix together well for deep greens for the foreground trees. I could use ultramarine and a burnt sienna, but it’s easier, so as long as I don’t use straight black, it looks good.


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