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.

Winter Wonder Juried Show at Pacific Art League

I just got notified that my snow painting, Solstice, was selected for the Winter Wonder Juried Show at Pacific Art League in Palo Alto, CA.  The opening reception will be December 5, 2014 from 5:30-8 pm.  The exhibition will be up for the month of December.

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

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

Starry Night on the Pacific Crest Trail, Finished Painting

I just finished this one this morning.  This is my painting of the area below Mather Pass, on the Pacific Crest Trail:

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Amazed, 20″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

I paint a lot of night scenes, because night skies are one of the most amazing parts of backpacking trips, but the hardest to photograph.

I have an emotional connection to this pass from our experience hiking the high Sierra section of the PCT several years ago.  I’m somewhat prone to altitude sickness, and this spot was our highest campsite on the trail at just over 11,000 feet.

That night however, I slept better than I had in months. In my dream, I found myself going underground, entering a room and finding everything I had ever lost.  I know that many others have drawn strength from this trail, and the feeling lasts long after the exhaustion and bug bites are gone.

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I took progress photos throughout the painting, and I’ll do a technique post soon.  I just added this image to my Etsy store as a photo print and canvas print.  The original is for sale through my website.

Snowshoeing in the Coast Mountains, Finished Painting

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.

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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:

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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

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.

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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.

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Winter Camping: Finished tent painting

This is another one of my winter camping paintings, inspired by a snowshoe trip in the coast mountains of British Columbia with my husband.

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

We really enjoy winter camping; there are no bugs or bears to worry about, and comparatively few people.  Water is readily available in the form of snow, the ground is soft and the views are amazing.  If you can come prepared for the cold and the early sunsets, it’s great.

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This is me, standing against the peak that I later put in my painting.  Like my duct tape gaiters?

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You can find this painting in my Etsy shop as a digital print or canvas print.  The original painting is for sale through my website.

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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