September Splendor

I’ve finally wrapped up a frenetic summer completing two picture books at once, and now I’m making the most of the lingering late-summer weather before it gets too cold for painting watercolor outdoors. I spent this morning painting en plein air near Estes Park with my mother, Kathleen Reilly. (She’s a much more devoted plein air painter than I am. See her beautiful oil paintings here.) I was dazzled by the effect of the morning light shining through golden aspen leaves, though it was difficult to capture it in time before the light moved. The warm, cheerful yellows of the aspens belied the chilly temperature; there was frost in the deep shadows, and after a while my hands went numb.


For the art nerds interested in materials, here’s a way-too-detailed account what I used in the above painting:
Pigments (all Daniel Smith transparent watercolors):
  • Anthraquinoid Red: This is very similar in hue to Alizarin Crimson and can work as a more lightfast alternative.
  • Hansa Yellow Light: Transparent and versatile, my main yellow here.
  • New Gamboge: New Gamboge was just right for those more intensely golden aspen leaves.
  • Indanthrone Blue: I keep coming back to this blue again and again. It’s similar in hue to Ultramarine, but capable of darker tones.
  • Perylene Green: This is a single-pigment green. It’s very dark in tone and I’ve found that it’s ideal for our Colorado pine forests.
  • Monte Amiata Natural Sienna: This is a lovely sienna that can even stand in as a muted yellow in some paintings. Here I used it to mute and mix with other colors.
Other materials:
  • Saunders Waterford High White 300lb Cold Press, quarter sheet.
    300 lb is thick enough that I don’t even need to tape it down; no warping will occur. I like the 200 lb as well.
  • Rapahel squirrel mop # 8
    This brush holds so much fluid that it can take some getting used to if you don’t usually work with mops. The base is so thick and the tip so fine that you could paint an entire painting with just this one brush.
  • Raphael Kolinsky sable round #8
    Despite the fact that both of the brushes are marked with an “8”, it should be noted that the mop is much larger than the sable round. The springy sable is great for foreground details and leaves.

I had completely different weather conditions for this next painting from our nearby Hall Ranch Open Space. I think I spent half of the time just waving the paper around, trying to get it to dry. On the plus side, it made for a dramatic landscape, and the mountain bikers riding past me were having a great time getting completely covered with mud. Colorado is in the midst of a pretty severe drought, so I felt lucky to capture this moment. As for pigments, it’s been a few weeks since I painted this and I’ve completely forgotten what I used. (But I’m sure you can spot the Perylene Green!)

And finally, another rainy moment at Hall Ranch. This painting will be included in a local art show celebrating our Boulder County  parks and open spaces, 2018 Outdoor Creations – A Boulder County Juried Art Show. The show will be on display from Friday, October 12 through Friday, November 2 at the Great Frame Up in Longmont, with an opening reception from 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, October 12.

A Cumulus Morning
Baby Goat Season

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.