Monday, August 5, 2013

Nature is Imagination Itself

"Let's Twist Again" oil on 11x14 Raymar panel--collection artist
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
William Blake

My primary inspiration is nature.  Even though I live in the heart of the city, one aspect that I think all Denverites love about our mile high city is that the "wild west" is just minutes from home. As Denver plein air artists will attest, you could be painting an urban landscape in the AM and then a more rugged sunlit western landscape in the PM. You simply head west into the foothills or south toward New Mexico.

In an attempt to explore my “region” this summer I bought a Colorado State Park Pass. Within about an hour or so of the city there over half a dozen state parks—each with its own wildlife and unique landscape. So my tip today is to paint a State Park in your area--FYI for more park inspiration check out Paint the Parks--a website devoted to park painting.

One state park I’d heard about many time from other painters was the Castlewood Canyon State Park about 30 miles southeast of the city. It’s a beautiful 2,300 acre park with colorful rock formations, a wide variety of wildlife, and a stunning Pike’s Peak view on a clear day (it’s about a mile higher than the city.)
Pike's Peak from Castlewood Canyon Trail

Because the park is also part of the Black Forest region there are some wonderful old pines and shrubs. This twisted wind worn tree caught my eye right away—it had such a distinct figural quality.  This painting took me a few sessions.

My thanks to one of my own painting mentors (yes, teachers have teachers!) Dan Oakleaf for his guidance on this. Particularly since I wanted a more natural palette for this.  Also, this painting was not a quick alla prima study-the drawing was more complicated but worth it. I'm really motivated now to visit all the parks in the area before winter in search of painting subjects.

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