Wednesday, March 25, 2015

High Desert in Winter

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"High Desert in Winter"
(Beattys Butte, Oregon High Desert)
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
4" x 6"

I finished the Oil Sketch, “Winter Aspens” (posted last time on the blog), and drove 11 miles to the above view, startling a coyote near the Refuge HQ on the way.  The main mountain in this view is Beattys Butte, but the massif includes 3 or 4 other peaks behind, one of which is Mahogany Butte, for those of you who might be familiar with the area.  I had a bite to eat while I studied the scene.  The flat, white area in the middle distance is the dry bed of Flook Lake, and I am near the entrance to a two track road that goes down there and beyond; worth exploring in the dry season … I’m now experienced in what roads are best left for another time, thanks to the mud-fest. 

Cloud came in slowly from the southwest (off to the right in this painting), while I worked and so I reckon there will be no Geminiids visible tonight.  Just as well, since a good night’s rest is in order, now that I’m daily painting.  Beattys Butte, and its attendant massif, is about 16 miles away.  I have addressed the issue of perceived distance before, and no doubt will again, but it is so interesting to look out over great distances in landscapes such as this, and realizing how distant certain features actually are.  To the left of me, as I paint, Steens Mountain lies about 35 miles distant, with its heights lost in cloud, and behind me there are distant hills 50 miles away. 

After finishing this sketch, second of the day, I drove back to camp in the twilight, and on the Hot Springs road, after passing the HQ, a pair of coyotes came running down the road towards me, and without stopping they split and continued on both sides of my truck.  I got a good look at the one on the driver’s side; healthy, and with bushy fur … all decked out for Winter.  I stopped and inspected their footprints, as they rejoined and ran on down the road.  Yep; same footprints as I have seen before and decided were coyote tracks, at my various track sightings. The Owls were hooting closer tonight as I prepared supper, with my red light headlamp on my head, in the darkening sky and with a light snow falling as I cooked.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

Imprimatura: Venetian Red; the Pigments used the usual Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna & Lead White #2, with Winsor & Newton Venetian Red and Cobalt & Cerulean Blues.

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