Capitol GorgePosted: September 11, 2021
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the experience of sketching on location in Capitol Reef National Park, here’s a studio painting I just completed that is also inspired by walking in the park. On the day with hiked Chimney Rock and Capital Gorge, I didn’t carry my sketchbook with me because it was too hot for a full backpack and a heavy book, so the reference comes from my photos.
I wanted to convey the sense of awe we felt in that park. If you’ve been there you know what I mean. The Waterpocket Fold — that massive ridge of rock layers that runs for a hundred miles through the park — is so magnificent that it’s hard to find words to describe it. Have a look at this to see what I mean. When I decided to paint it at home the only way to express what I saw was to use a full sheet of watercolour paper, and put in some tiny figures. This particular view is near the end of the trail, almost back at the parking area. The larger figure in the painting is our son who walked on ahead as I stopped to take a photo. The other two figures are invented but they seemed necessary.
When you’ve been working in a sketchbook, it’s not easy to scale up to a bigger size. I made two false starts before feeling that I had the beginning of something that might be worth spending time one. My problem often is that I begin by sloshing too much pigment on the paper, but a scene like this requires more layering and glazing so it often takes a few tries before I slow down enough to work my way through it. Of course now that this is done, all I want to do is more large paintings of our trip to Utah.