Month: October 2010

Hope Valley

I generally take a yearly pilgrimage to the Sierra’s to paint the fall colors, alternating between the Lee Vining area (with June Lakes, Virginia Lake, etc.) or the Hope Valley area. This year I chose Hope Valley. The season is a little late this year, primarily, I think as there has not been many cold days and freezing nights to bring the fall colors in.

I’ll just do one post of the entire trip, rather that separate day by day entries.

Monday, 10/11/10
Driving up Hwy 88, after having lunch with my nephew who had been doing contract electrical work close to Caples Lake, I headed over Carson Pass into Hope Valley. Since it was getting late in the day, I spent the time scouting out locations to paint over the next couple days. The valley was mainly green, but there was enough color in areas to make the trip worthwhile.


It was time to head to South Lake Tahoe where I had reservations at Harvey’s Resort and Casino.

Tuesday, 10/12/10
In the morning drove back the 20 miles to Hope Valley, which took twice as long as expected due to road construction, and did a painting along the West Fork of the Carson River, which runs the length of the valley. In fact, all my paintings would turn out to be along the Carson.

carson river hope valley fall colors

After driving down around Markleeville, not much color was showing there, so headed back to the same stretch of the Carson and did another painting.

carson river hope valley fall colors

Right below me in a pool, there must have been a hundred trout. There were a number of fisherman around, all catching them like crazy! Wished I would have had a fishing pole!


Wednesday, 10/13/10
Another trip through the construction down to Hope Valley. This time I painted the Carson in a more open area, however, there were no Aspen trees right in the scene, so no color to paint. I used artistic license and added a few trees in the background.

carson river, hope valley fall colors

I then did a painting right by the junction of Hwy 88 & 89. As it turned out, all the paintings I did were within a mile of each other along the Carson River.

carson river hope valley fall colors

What a difference a few day’s make. By the time I left Hope Valley, much of the green was really starting to turn!


Thursday, 10/14/10
Time to head home, so I had a leisurely morning, and after checking out, drove up to the James Harold Gallery in Tahoe City and dropped a couple of the paintings off.

Above El Capitan VI

Continued work yesterday and today. I put in the rest of the valley floor, with the lower right very roughly painted as much of it will be covered with foreground trees. I continued to work on the foreground, and also all over the painting, making minor adjustments, adding some scattered clouds and other details.

Normally I can do 90% of a painting this size in 3-4 days, then let it sit and occasionally make adjustments here and there over several weeks . It is also good to put it aside for awhile and then look at it with fresh eyes. This phase will start in the next day or so.

Below are two shots, one of the entire painting, and one closeup of part of the sky which shows some of the color better.


Above El Capitan V

I am still recovering from a sick spell, but spent more time today working on El Capitan than I have any day yet. At this stage, the painting becomes more fun as the highlights are starting to develop and the painting is taking on a finished look. You can probably tell from the photos below that a lot of progress was made. I worked the cliffs to the right just in front of El Capitan, more of the valley floor, and sketched in the Merced River as it flows through Yosemite Valley.

I also started some of the foreground cliffs. After some thought, I decided to lower the forground cliff where it is much less pronounced. I did this as the previous sketch boxed the viewer in. I want the eye to follow the cliff right into the middle distance and right to the light on El Capitan.

The quick snapshots I take while the painting is on the easel really wash out a lot of color, particularly the sky, where most of the grey you see is actually a bluish purple.


Below is a closeup of the right hand cliffs which show the actual color and values a little more accurately–


My goal is to get this painting about 95% complete this week. If I continue at today’s pace, I should make it!

Above El Capitan Part IV

Normally I would be finished with this painting by now, but other projects, activities, and several days of being under the weather have slowed me down. Today I finally got back to painting since mid last week.

I am still working mainly top to bottom, but since the entire painting was dry, went back over and put in more clouds and detail in places. I also worked more on the valley floor, which is primarily evergreen trees.


Up to this point I have not decided how the foreground cliffs will appear, so now have to decide. The reason being, I don’t want too put much detail on the valley floor directly below which will be covered by trees, etc.

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