My Sequoia Backpacking Painting at Pacific Art League

This month, my painting Still is at Pacific Art League gallery in Palo Alto, as part of their Landscapes, Seascapes and Urbanscapes juried show.  We’re busy with the new baby so I wasn’t able to attend the opening reception last night, but I’m hoping to make the next one!

This painting was inspired by a backpacking trip to the Sequoia/Kings Canyon region of the Sierra Nevadas in California.  We camped one night in the Big Five Lakes region of Sequoia National Park:

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Still, 24″x 30″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

I took some artistic license with this painting composition, since we didn’t actually camp on this rock (we follow Leave No Trace principles and don’t set up our camp too close to water).  Here’s the reference photo I used to make the painting, later that morning after the sunrise:

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You can buy this painting in my Etsy shop as a digital print or canvas print.  The original painting is for sale for $1000 through Pacific Art League.

Goodnight Moon and the North Star Painting

This is the latest in my starry night camping series, just finished today:

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North Star, 24″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © 2015 Kathryn Beals

For this painting, I decided to experiment with more of a turquoise blue.  I have always loved the night sky in Clement Hurd’s illustrations on the last page of the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, a book I enjoyed when I was little and now read to my children.  The room gets darker and darker on each page until the last page when the lights are out, little bunny is asleep, and the stars are shining through his window:

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“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”(Photo from our copy of Goodnight Moon, 1947 by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd, Harper Collins)

I always liked the way the night sky in those pictures is not black but actually a bright turquoise blue. As an artist, it inspired me to try painting a night sky using little or no black.  I want my night sky paintings to have the same calm, wondrous feel as the sky in Goodnight Moon, even in the very different setting – sleeping on a cold mountaintop, instead of safely tucked into a warm bed.

For this painting, I used my usual combo of Anthraquinone Blue, Paynes Gray and Titanium White, with clear glazes of Quinacridone Magenta, but I also tried adding Turquois (Phthalo) in areas to make it more of a greenish blue like in the Goodnight Moon illustration.

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The tent is something I like to add to bring more emotion and connection to a landscape.  This scene isn’t based on any particular mountain or trip, but it reminds me of the feeling of camping in the high Sierras or the Rockies, above the treeline and under the stars.  I didn’t plan on it being a snow painting, but like many of our camping trips, sometimes it turns out that way.

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This painting is available in my Etsy store as a photo print or canvas print.  The original is for sale through my website.

Alpine lakes painting in progress

I’ve been working on this painting of an alpine lake scene from the Pacific Crest Trail in the high Sierra mountains of California.  This one is loosely based on the area south of Mather Pass. We encountered it on the PCT, but it is also part of the John Muir Trail.

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I need to make adjustments to the composition of the foreground with the lake, but the basic colors of the painting are coming together.  I’m really into starry skies right now and I plan to make a sky similar to this painting. I’ve painted alpine lakes several times and I enjoy the chance to use really intense colors.

This is where my husband and I camped just below Mather Pass, at just over 11,000 feet, our highest campsite on the trail.  This was one of my favorite spots on the trail and I’ve always wanted to paint this amazing place, since the photos really don’t do it justice.

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Blue Skies in the Sierra Mountains, Finished Painting

This is another one of my paintings from our trips in the high alpine trails of the Sierra mountains. My husband and I have backpacked the highest section of the Pacific Crest Trail, including the John Muir Trail, and many other areas in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.

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Stairway, 24″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

This painting isn’t of any particular mountain pass.  I more wanted to capture the unearthly feeling of being up there above the treeline, looking down at the cloud banks and brilliant blue alpine lakes.  As Mark Twain said of the Sierras:

“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be?–it is the same the angels breathe.”

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Here are some detail shots from the painting.   That’s us on the rock, looking down:

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Finished Snow Painting: Solstice

I just finished this painting yesterday:

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Solstice, 24″x 30″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © 2014 Kathryn Beals

This is from memories of winter camping in the Sierra mountains with my husband.  I actually started this one a few years ago, got frustrated and put it away.  I dug it out yesterday and tried again, and I was much happier with the result this time.

I originally made the tent way too big, so I painted over it with the dark blue/black, let that dry and then painted it in again in a smaller size.  This is one of the reasons I love painting in acrylic – it’s easy to fix mistakes.  I should have taken progress photos, but this artist has a great tutorial that shows a similar fix.

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