Winter Night Sky Painting: Wander

This is another painting from a snowshoe trip in Yosemite a few years ago.  We had a long trip in to a stone shelter hut, and due to bad snow conditions it took much longer than we expected.

It was close to midnight when we were still a mile or two from where we needed to be, and we had that exhausted tunnel vision that comes at the end of a long hike at high altitude.  Suddenly we looked up from our plodding snowshoes and saw an amazing sight around us – a burned forest covered in snow, silent, under the moon and stars.


Wander, 30″ x 40″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

Sometimes I need these moments to remember why I love the backcountry, and why it is worth it to be out in the cold in these amazing places, and not home in my warm bed.  We stopped and looked at the stars for a long time before continuing on.

Creating the painting later on from this memory, I decided to work in a very limited palette to capture the starkness of the landscape.  I used only Titanium white, Carbon black, Pthalo blue and Ultramarine blue.  I took some artistic license and added the river to make the composition more surreal and dreamlike.

titaniumwhitecarbonblack pthalobluegs  ultramarine

I also used some Interference blue, which is an iridescent color that looks clear against white and blue against black.  You can see it in the sky around the moon.


I decided I wanted to make this painting very large, 30″ x 40″, which was larger than would fit on my easel in a vertical orientation.  I’m not very tall, so I had to get creative with moving the canvas around to paint the top and bottom of the scene.

This painting is now my best selling print, and you can find it in my Etsy store as a photo print or canvas print.  The original is currently on display at Red Rock, and is for sale through my website.

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