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Camping and Plein Air Painting in the Forest

A couple of weekends ago we did a camp out and had a great time. It was a spur of the moment, “let’s do this!” kind of deal, and our destination was up in the mountains at an out of the way campground. We arrived late on Friday and never thought to make a reservation at the campground. To our dismay, the camp was full and without a reservation, things didn’t look good for us. So we asked the camp host if he knew of a spot to camp down the road, and as we were talking, the owner overheard our conversation and came over to us with a wonderful idea! He said they had one spot in the overflow section and if we didn’t mind not having a campfire ring, we were welcome to use it. He cut the rate since it wasn’t a full on campsite, and we were over joyed.

We ended up in a secluded part of the campground near a multi event area which wasn’t being used and the whole situation turned out perfect. We set up camp, made dinner and settled in for the night. The next morning we rode out in the UTV, with the goal of finding a spot for me to paint, and my husband to fish. We rode all over the mountains looking for a place called Mirror lake, and never found it, but did however find a spectacular spot at the top of the mountain and the view was awesome! At 4200 ft. elevation it was a bit cool, and there was still snow on the higher peaks, so I was glad I brought a coat.

The wildflowers were abundant and beautiful and had just begun to bloom. The hillsides were covered in patches of daisies and poking up through them were these beautiful vibrant red flowers.

After, driving around all morning, and not finding the lake, we settled on a spot for lunch next to a creek in the dark and scary forest.

This is Latour Creek and you can see where some folks had camped and left their trash behind. This is just so annoying to me. “Pack it in, Pack it out” is written for a reason! The forest is not the city dump people! Geez.

Anyway, after lunch I brought out the gear and my plan was to fill the panel with a complete underpainting before I lost the light. The dappled light highlighting the stream was absolutely beautiful.

 


 

It was very cool and quiet, with only the sounds of the running creek and an occasional ATV driving by. The creek was too shallow for any fishing so my husband did a bit of hiking while I painted. All was going great, and then the inevitable happened… no, not rain… Mosquitoes. Seriously? For some reason bugs love to eat me and when the mosquitoes discovered I was tasty, my painting session ended, as I was rudely bitten on the chin. I took reference photos and made some sketches, then packed up the gear.


 

We arrived back at camp in time for dinner, and on the menu was campfire pizza and a nice glass of wine. So yummy. I made the dough at home and cut up the veggies at camp and didn’t even know if this would work, but it did.

I don’t know what it is, but camp food just tastes so delish. This pizza had onions, mushrooms, red pepper, tomatoes and Canadian bacon. After we ate, we sat around our little camp stove and gazed upon the fire, sipping our wine and having chocolate for dessert. The clouds moved in to give us a spectacular sunset and it sprinkled during the night which was so nice to listen to.


 

I’m having to paint from my reference photos since I wasn’t able to complete my under painting, and made some adjustments to the composition:

Composition changes

Don’t worry, I didn’t mark up the painting. This is an acetate overlay I use to make sure elements aren’t “dead center”.  I use a dry erase marker to make notes for the changes. This piece will take me longer since there are so many rocks in the scene, and I want to get the dappled light just right.

I will be taking some time away from the easel and blog posts, as I work freelance for an architect and he has sent me some new plans to work on. If you want to stay in the know about when I put up a new blog post, you can sign up for weekly emails, which are delivered on Friday mornings whenever I write a new post. Click HERE to sign up.

See you next time!

Much Love,

Rhonda

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Plein air painting, trail riding and a public service message ~

This last weekend my husband and I spent the day out in nature, riding the trails in the back country on the wheeler. It was a beautiful day with threats of rain, but we decided to pack a picnic lunch and my painting gear and go for it anyway. I made a little video to share my day with you:

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Yes we ate junk food for lunch, but it was delicious! We typically follow a healthy diet, but splurge on outings like this cause it’s fun to cook hot dogs on an open fire. We did buy the non chemical laden dogs, and the chips are the healthier version of the chip world, so it was a less guilty meal.

After lunch, I set up my painting gear and wondered if I should even do so, because the sky was growing ever darker.  I said to my husband who was fishing on the bank, “Time me for one hour and I’ll see how fast I can lay in my base colors”. Wouldn’t you know it, just as I hit the 45 min. mark, it started to rain. First a few sprinkles, as I loudly voiced my disdain, “It’s starting to rain!”, then harder and harder until it was full on pouring. My husband held a trash bag over me as I quickly put away the gear trying to shield my painting from the rain. We got it all packed up in the nick of time and decided to call it a day. I did manage to lay in all the base colors and took reference photos in order to finish in the studio. We had a great time in spite of the weather.

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On the way back, we came upon the second of an unattended camp fire! It was Memorial Day and all the campers were in a hurry to head home. At the beginning of our ride we came across the first smoking camp fire and stopped to put it out. The river was right next to their camp too! Not cool!

The second unattended camp fire was smoking even more than the first one!

And there go the campers!

And of course there was water not more than 100 ft. away!

They could have easily walked over to the stream, filled a bucket, or like we did, our empty water bottles, and put the fire out before they left. And look how close it is to the trees! This kind of stuff really makes me mad! I love camping, and spending time in nature, but this kind of carelessness ruins things for those of us who use the trail systems, campgrounds, and actually live in the forest! We almost lost our home a few years ago to careless campers who left their fire smoking when the winds came up. Here’s what that looked like:

Fire

 

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Cape Horn Fire

Within one hour, the fire, which had started on the other side of the mountain, came across the top and was headed straight for our neighborhood, out on the point. We had twenty minutes to evacuate! It was awful! Thankfully, by the Grace of God, and the quick actions of eleven neighbors who disobeyed the evacuation orders, and stayed to fight the fire, our neighborhood was spared. But we lost six other homes and cabins in the area and the entire top of the beautiful forested mountain.  So I say to anyone reading this post today who goes camping, PLEASE PUT OUT YOUR CAMPFIRES! That means dead out, with water and dirt until you can hold your hand over the fire and not feel heat!

Just because it’s cool outside, not windy and looks like rain, doesn’t mean the weather can’t change! The clouds can go away instantly, and the wind can blow hard, fanning your left behind smoking campfire into a full on fire, and bring devastation to everyone – not only in burnt down homes, and our forests, but the air is filled with toxic smoke lasting for days and weeks on end! It puts all emergency responders in harms way as well; when all you had to do was spend ten extra minutes, and dowse your fire. PLEASE PEOPLE! Have some consideration!

Well, that’s my soapbox and public announcement.

I will share this latest painting when it’s finished.

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The Light at the End of the Road

This weekend we went Christmas Tree hunting in the forest for the “perfect” tree. It had snowed then rained earlier in the day so everything was a sloppy mess. The temps were in the mid 30s, just right for creating fog! After we found our tree and loaded it into the truck, this amazing scene revealed itself at the end of the road:

Light at the end of the Road

I just love it when I’m in the right place at the right time and the Lord reveals Himself!

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Yellow Roses work in progress ~

The last of the roses in our garden had two buds that never opened due to the cold settling in. So I brought them indoors to see if they would open in the warmth of our home. The rose bush I cut them from typically makes peach and dark pink edged roses with hints of yellow, but to my delight when they opened, the roses were all yellow!

I was inspired to paint a new 6″x6″ oil on panel before they were gone, but became frustrated and almost wiped out the smaller rose. I’ll work on it later when I’m in a better frame of mind. Sometimes the paint just gets the better of me.  There will be leaves and a bud  in the composition when it’s finished. My palette is yellow ocher, cad yellow medium, lemon yellow and the background is a mixture of transparent brown oxide and manganese blue.  I hope to work on it some more after Thanksgiving. : ) Stay tuned!

 

Yellow Roses work in progress

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Fall ~ My favorite time of year!

Fall is my most favorite of the seasons, but sadly it doesn’t last! Each year is so different. Last year we had lots of rain just before fall, so the colors were spectacular and lasted quite a long time. It was absolutely unreal!

This year we’ve had very little rain and the colors are not as vibrant and the leaves are falling rapidly. The temps got cold sooner than normal, so no Indian Summer this year. Bummer! Here are a few of my favorite images:

Leaves in the Driveway oil painting

This is a 4″x4″ palette knife oil painting titled ” Leaves in the Driveway”.

It’s part of my fall decorating each year.


 

Bridge at Buttonhook

“The Bridge at Buttonhook” is a 6″x6″ oil on panel.


Aspens in the Fall oil painting

And this is my all time fave! An 8″x10″ oil on canvas titled “Aspens in Fall”

I hope your fall colors are inspiring and delighting you this year!

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Blue Morning Glory

This week has been a busy one with varnishing and framing paintings. This little Blue Morning Glory painting is one of my favorites.

It looks fabulous in its walnut toned frame!

Blue Morning Glory oil painting

Summer sale ends soon! Use code SUN at checkout on select works.

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Working on Roses




Back to working on my Roses painting. 👍🏻 So I laid the Rose on the palette to make sure the color string was right and then I got paint on the rose, aphids crawled out and got in the paint- then little bits of rosebud pellets fell out of the inside of the rose and covered the palette. 😝

Had to stop and clean everything before snapping a photo! This set off a series of mishaps in which I ultimately dropped the cap to Napthol Red paint on the carpet. It bounced twice and left two nice blobs of juicy oil paint on my blue carpet! Nice one! Needless to say it was a little frustrating!