Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Wonderful Snowfall of June the 9th.

“The Wonderful Snowfall of June the 9th”
(Winter Ridge, Oregon Basin & Range)
Oil on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
9” x 12”

This painting was intended to be posted not more than a few days after the smaller study that was posted in mid-May, but once I got back to civilization I found that I had more to do than I had thought, so this posting kept being put off. But now after seventeen days in town, I am back out in the wilds, and I can be getting on with things. It was instructive working on the smaller study (see last post), and it was instructive seeing how much longer this larger one took to do, even with the knowledge already gained. The pigments used were exactly the same for both works, and a nicely limited palette as well.

The Pigments used in the painting were:
Imprimatura & Drawing: Rublev Italian Burnt Sienna;
Pigments: W&N Cobalt & French Ultramarine Blues;
Rublev:  Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna, Lead White #1.

Two earth colours and blue ... I could have used only the French Ultramarine, for my blue, but the Cobalt was already on the palette, so was used rather than let it go to waste. The French Ultramarine was necessary to mix the darkest greens; darker than could have been achieved with the Cobalt Blue.

In the Block-in, shown below, you can see the effect the Imprimatura still has on the Block-in layer. It still affects the final paint layer, but is less obvious. In the finished work, the Imprimatura gives warmth to the greens, and helps to grey the blues in the distance. It also gives a hint of the earthy red pine needle covered forest floor beneath the thin snow cover, especially in the roadway.

The Block-in

I returned to the wilds on Thursday, June 4th, passing through La Pine, and heading east on country  road 22, as the Sun was lowering in the west. With the light behind me, I noticed how hazy it was in the rear view mirror, and then I noticed that the haze was swirling, much as if it were smoke. I looked to the hood of my car to see if smoke or steam was coming out from under, but detected nothing. I looked back in the rear view mirror, raising my head so I could see the road closer to the car in my wing mirrors. It looked like faint whispers of smoke, but the colour was a yellowish green, as was the general haze back down the road. I pulled over, popped the hood, looked under and all around the car, with fire extinguisher in hand, and ... nothing. I stopped twice more ... and nothing.  I reached camp about an hour before the Sun set, and noticed that the dust on the car was yellowish green, but down on the car body, near the wheel wells, it was the usual reddish brown ... the last four miles to camp were on dirt roads.

The next day, after tramping around a bit, I noticed the bottom of my trousers had a layer of yellowish green dust on them. I brushed it off, only for it to return after another bit of tramping around. The day after that as I was tramping around in the woods, I noticed that with each footstep I wouldraise a small cloud of yellowish green dust, which would then settle on the bottom of my trouser legs. I have never noticed this before. Oh, ordinary dust, yes.

There are a couple of possibilities that come to mind. One possibility is that perhaps it was dust carried from a far away place on high altitude winds. Occasionally,  when I lived in England, dust would be carried all the way from the Sahara, in North Africa. Perhaps this was a similar occurrence.  The other possibility is that it is  pollen, from these extensive forest hereabouts. In support of that, the colour reminds me of pollen covering the surface of several lakes up in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington, when I was up there in June 2018. It got quite thick in some parts of the lakes. I'm plumping for the pollen theory. If it is pollen I wonder if it is from the pine trees ... I have a vague recollection of hearing of such phenomena.

Additional to the above, is that after a week in camp, I went into La Pine to get ice and fill my water containers. It had rained the previous night, and on the forest roads the now empty puddles and rivulets all had a yellowish green scum-line, like a bathtub ring. I suppose it could be dust from afar, but because it formed these scum-lines, I believe it was finer and lighter than the already fine road dust, and floated on top of the rain water, so I'm still plumping for the pollen.


There is a particular type of American moron that comes out to these wild places. I use the term ‘American’ advisedly as it has to do with an attitude of mind to be found predominately, if not exclusively, in this country. The particular persons to which I refer are those that come out to these wild places with the attitude that “since I have a right to be on these public lands, I can pretty much do what I damn well please.”, forgetting  that with rights come responsibilities. In the little over three weeks since I was at my present camp (I'm stopping here briefly before moving further out), it has been occupied by some of the particular morons to which I'm referring. The evidence is several beer cans, broken bottles and empty food tins left in the fire ring; at least four live trees cut down for firewood (I have photographic proof of two that were alive a month ago), ignoring a couple of dead ones that could have been chopped instead (and which would have made a better less smokey fire); spray painting on a tree trunk, and then using the paint can for target practice and then leaving it littering the landscape; driving ATVs off into the surrounding woods, thus leaving ruts which will take months, and sometimes years to disappear (I know they're called All Terrain Vehicles, but they are supposed to be used on roads and certain trails, not willy nilly into the woods, and the National Forest and BLM personel, I believe, would agree).

With rights come responsibilities, and I would go further and say ... obligations, especially here on our public lands, and to the Natural World. A final note would be the leaving of their spent cartridge casings littered about the camp ... this latter almost every shooter seems to do ... I have done so, but nowadays, if I do a bit of plinking, I try to police up my shell casings as much as I can. The amount of brass piled up since last month, indicates there must have been a tremendous firefight here ... attempting to protect all that toilet paper they no doubt hoarded at the beginning of the pandemic. I have no real objections to a bit of target practice.; I just wish that some of the brass would be picked up afterwards.   What I truly object to is the wanton, and very unnecessary, destruction of living trees for too large campfires, and the littering of the landscape, with no regard, or respect, for others who come afterwards to these same wild places. I say again ... with rights come responsibilities and  obligations, to your fellow man, and especially out here in the wild places ... to Nature.  Learn respect for these wild places,  or please stay home. 

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