I finished a packtrip a few weeks ago in the Ansel Adams wilderness with a great group of artist friends, Paul Kratter, Terry Miura, Michele DeBraganca, Jim Wodark, Kim Lordier, Ernesto Nemesio, and Robert Steele. Each year brings a different set of experiences.... due to weather, place, and other circumstances, and this trip was no different. We hiked in as clouds were building up, and ended up in a thunderstorm for the last few hours of the hike. We arrived in camp late afternoon, put up our tents in a downpour, then all crawled inside and slept for a few hours, emerging to eat dinner in the dark. We hit a pattern of afternoon rain and thunder for most of the week, so most of our productive hours took place from sunrise to mid afternoon, before we had to beat a retreat to our tents.
The image above is a study from the first morning. All these pieces have been pinned up in my studio for a few weeks, so most have benefited from a fair amount of touchup/repair/cleanup. When I was up there, I felt pretty limited at times regarding my color choices when faced with certain lighting conditions. Backlit trees in warm morning light, and distant blue shadows in a certain value range were two recurring lighting setups. I was aware of it up there, and it was evident when I got my work home. I needed to knock down certain saturated hues, and also add more complexity and variety of color to some areas. Maybe if we had painted more at different times of day I wouldn't have felt constrained as much. I did a lot of morning paintings. Here's a few more:
I always enjoy the subtle temperature shifts of the light bouncing off of shadowed granite. Plenty of boulders were available to explore and celebrate this quality. I would just wander out of camp slowly, studying views. I usually didn't get too far. This one is about 100 yards from my tent.
This is part of the shoreline of a pond about a few minutes walk from camp. 6 years ago we camped near here, and I swam in this pond almost every day. This year I swam in the lake.
Mid-morning, probably around 10-11-ish... After a swim, back to work!
There was a large area towards the west end of the lake that was dotted with numerous erratics such as this one. The recurring threat of afternoon rain kept us from moving too far afield from the shelter of our tents. Consequently, we never hiked to the beautiful upper meadow and melt pond at the base of the peak. I hope to return there another year.
A quick sketch of the north shoulder of Mt. Banner as clouds start boiling up around noon from the west. On a few days the clouds came from the east.
A good example of the typical afternoon weather (cloudy and threatening to rain) vs. the 'rare' sunny evening. The large snow patch is part of Mt. Ritter, viewed over the south shoulder of Mt. Banner.
Painted on the last afternoon. I had been walking by this view all week, and finally gave it a shot. The 'wall' of the mountain in the background was in shadow from overhanging clouds. The light on the rocks was intermittent. It was the oblique angle of the cliff with the tree shooting up that kept catching my eye.
A view across the lake. The last piece I did the morning before we hiked out.