I took progress photos of the second half of my Pacific Crest Trail painting, and turned them into a GIF, so you can watch the sky coming together:
After filling in the background colors with a large brush, I started putting in the stars. I had a breakthrough in my starry sky paintings when I stopped using mostly black, and used a mix of blues instead for the background colors. This painting has very little black. The main sky color is Anthraquinone Blue, a strong transparent blue, with some Phthalo Blue and Titanium White.
Another trick I’ve learned: use the handle end of the brush to make the stars. They come out rounder, and you can adjust the pressure to make bigger or smaller dots.
I like to vary the colors of the stars to add depth as well. For some, I used a mix of Titanium White and Phthalo Blue, then added white dots over top after the first dots had dried. For others, I used a bit of Titan Buff instead of white, to make the stars yellower.
After putting in most of the stars and letting them dry, I experimented with the colors in the sky by adding in a bit of Quinacridone Magenta and transparent Zinc White here and there over top of the stars.
I also added a bit of the magenta to the snow on the mountaintops below to tie it together. Here’s the finished painting:
This painting is in my Etsy store as a photo print and canvas print. The original is for sale through my website.
This is a painting from a winter camping trip I took in Garabaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia. My husband and I snowshoed up a steep trail and camped in view of the Coast Mountains.
Alpine Trail, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals
This is one of my older paintings, and I was still in a beginner phase where I tried to copy photos too closely without improving the composition. However, I’m glad I turned up the intensity of the blues to capture the shadows on snow. This is the original photo that I worked with when I got back:
This was another one of those trips where, due to bad snow conditions and overly optimistic planning, we arrived long after dark. We did get to see this amazing sunset over the mountains, and I’m glad we stopped to take photos: Continue reading
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.
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.”
Here are some detail shots from the painting. That’s us on the rock, looking down: