From the field to the studio

For months the urge to just take my art supplies and go paint nature for several days was really strong. When we would go hiking or biking I would constantly wish that I had my art supplies with me so I could paint what my eyes were seeing, the colors and textures that a photograph cannot capture. However, most of time that wasn’t a possibility because I was either hiking with a kid strapped to my back while keeping my “free range” kids from wandering off or I was there to get an adrenaline rush (mountain biking or snowboarding) and painting wasn’t in the agenda. I would paint things around my home and city when I had the chance but I wanted more (cue The Little Mermaid music). I wanted to escape the grown up responsibilities of life for a few days and paint nature.

In March the stars aligned and I was able to take my first official Plein Air painting trip while my husband stayed home to pack up our home. Being that Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, and most of northern Utah were still snowed in I traveled south for this trip. I went to favorite place to hike and explore…Moab, Utah.

The snow covered La Sal Mountains as seen from Arches National park

I think my first trip to Moab as a kid was when I became awestruck by nature. I was raised by mountains, farmlands, and forests, which made it so I didn’t really appreciate their beauty. I took it for granted that every spring I would see the orchards blossoming and waterfalls created from the melting snow. Moab however was nothing like I had ever seen up to that point. The red and orange rocks caught my imagination and love. After that trip, I opened my eyes and started appreciating the beauty of nature everywhere I went and I continued to go back to Moab as often as possible.

A plein air painting from the Moab Rim trail overlooking the Colorado River

To say I was excited to go paint in Moab would be an understatement. Even though it ended up being rainy and overcast for most of the trip I loved hiking to some of my favorite locations and painting them. When the weather would be too wet to paint I would go to the various galleries there and talk to other artists. When it was time for the trip to be over I left feeling inspired and rejuvenated. I had so many painting ideas that I actually sketched/wrote some of them down so I could work on them once I had a working studio again.

My quick Plein air sketches from Arches national park 

Well a little over four months have passed and I am happy to say that I was finally able to work on one of those ideas. Here pastel painting of Delicate Arch with the evening light shinning though the arch with the snow capped La Sal mountains in the distance. This idea came to me as I sat sketching Delicate Arch while fighting some very flat overcast light and sitting on a very hard rock. I wanted to use strong  and unusual colors while keeping it fairly loose with the detail. I absolutely love how this painting turned out.

Delicate Arch


Have you ever done plein air painting? How did it go? Leave a comment letting me know!

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