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"Winter Dawn amongst the Ponderosas"
(near Hole-in-the-Ground, Oregon High Desert)
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
with additional coat of Rublev Lead Oil Ground
4" x 6"
The stars were out most of the night, and I watched the Dawn-light on the Ponderosas while having breakfast, and imprinting the light conditions in my mind. I then painted the scene while that lighting was fresh in my mind. The radio weather reported Winter storm warning until Noon the next day for the North Cascades … just what do they mean by the North Cascades? I’m assuming that means at least as far south as the Willamette Pass. The high point of the Willamette Pass is not much higher than my present altitude, so I reckon I will go that way back to the Valley. It is interesting to realize that the Santiam Pass over the Cascade Range, north of Bend, Oregon, is also about the same altitude as I am now, but that I would be descending about 1500’ or more before I got there and have to regain that altitude to climb over the Pass, whereas going via the Willamette Pass there is no real change in altitude from here to there. But that was yet to come. Snow flurries now and again throughout the day, but not amounting to much, although flurries fell while preparing supper, but that seems to be de rigueur on this journey.
I awoke the next morning to an inch of beautiful powdery snow on the SUV, and light snow falling throughout breakfast. As I drove west towards La Pine the snow fell more heavily, continuing to fall as I visited an old friend where lives my other old friend, Tweetie, the finest, friendliest Lovebird in the whole wide world. It’s been two years since I last had seen Tweetie, and by the way he kept looking at me, I knew enough time had passed that he wasn’t quite sure who I was anymore, even though he had been my bosom buddy for seven years … well, he is a bird, and his brain isn’t that large … either that or he was just being standoff-ish (I know … I don’t write, I don’t phone, and years pass between visits!).
Upon leaving La Pine I drove south on Hwy 97 to Crescent, Oregon, where I cut over to Hwy 58 via 15 miles or so on Forest Road 1351, the snow increasing all the way; but it was beautiful; pine and fir limbs drooping towards the ground with the weight of the snow. Once over the Willamette Pass and on the downward slope, I kept a football field’s length between me and the next vehicle and kept a weather eye on the big semi-trailer behind me, who seemed to be keeping a decent distance between us as well; I always worry about the guy behind me on snowy or icy roads. A couple miles on the descent the traffic ahead came to an halt, and it did take me much of the distance I had left to safely and slowly come to a halt behind the car in front, and then I watched the truck behind slowly do the same …phew! We were all halted for about 40 minutes or so, and I never did find out what caused the delay. I turned the engine off and just sat back, ate lunch, and enjoyed the soft snowfall. We were at the Salt Creek Falls turnoff, and I should have gone over there and parked, and seen the falls in Winter, and had I known we were to be halted for that long I would have done, but I knew I had to back to town with plenty of time to unload a lot of gear into my storage unit, before it closed. It had taken roughly twice as long to come thus far through the snowfall than it would have under normal conditions, and … would there be snow in the valley? That question was soon answered to the negative, for by 2000’ in altitude the snow had turned to drizzly rain, and by 1000’ it had all but disappeared from the ground. Another 30 miles or so brought me out of the mountains and onto dry roads and bright late afternoon sunshine, with no clue that 50 miles east was a different snow covered world … until you looked that direction; miles away and high on the forested slopes you could discern the Winter Wonderland up there bathed in the brilliant sunshine and with the tops lost in the snowy cloud. I enjoyed that view as I drove up the center of the wide Willamette Valley until it widened further and the Cascades receded further away. And so I the Winter’s sojourn in the wild was over and the New Year soon to begin. I have a lengthy double commission on which to continue painting.
Imprimatura: Venetian Red.
The Pigments used were: Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna, with Winsor & Newton Cobalt & French Ultramarine Blues, Venetian Red, and Cremnitz White.