We had to drive an hour out of the way to make it to Ghost Ranch on our way to Taos, but it was worth it. The landscape is so epic and outlandish you’d swear that it was a movie prop someone carved out of Styrofoam and that a hidden stereo is about to start playing the Lone Ranger theme as you round the next bend. Truly this is the haunt of Wile E. Coyote and Yosemite Sam. It was a sunny but otherwise fairly cool day that day, but I couldn’t help worrying about my water supply as I hauled my stuff down the trail to find a shady spot to paint this butte. It was a harder task than I anticipated, painting these rocks – they looked like the perfect study in light and shadow, but trying to capture the scale, the color shifts from the purple, to red, to sandy white, as well as the surrounding landscape made it hard to keep those light and shadow planes separate.
Not to mention the fight I got into with the clouds.
They started out light and puffy behind the shadow side of the butte and I painted them in first. But by the time I got to painting that shadowed rock, it was sitting against blue sky, so it was hard to judge the value since I was painting against the lighter cloud color. So, like a chump, I tried to paint the sky back in over the clouds. Never do that. You can make things lighter in oil easy enough, but it’s a pain to try and make things darker. Especially clouds. The resulting clash of wills ate up a lot of my precious painting time – my mom, again, was awaiting me in the car and I had visions of buzzards circling my head. I did my best and called it a day. I wish I’d had more chances to paint this type of landscape – I bet it’s breathtaking at sunset.