WWM #26: Natural Wonders

The American West is filled with places you probably could not survive in for long without the amenities of water and shade and good soil to grow crops. Many of these areas have become national parks and monuments to preserve them for present and future generations, and to keep them from being destroyed and exploited, as is wont in the US. If you can make money off it, do it!  I don’t get how “conservatives” fail to “conserve” the beauty around us . . .

Anyway!

The White Sands National Monument, in New Mexico, is a strange and lovely place. White sand unlike what you usually find, accompanied by sparse plants, shifting dunes, and the vast New Mexico sky. Here are some studies – which, in my opinion, are all failures. That sand is so hard to express!

From the White Sands National Monument, we continue on to Arches National Park.  Layers of sandstone have been worn away by wind and rain, and arches of varying sizes and heights are the keynote of the park.  So many in one place!  The layers of sediment vary in color, erosion creates odd shapes, and the drama of sky and land, seen through the arches, creates visions of worlds within worlds.

I was rather pleased with the painting of the arch, more so than the others.  As usual, depth was a problem, but I think I solved it by doing three things.  First, I applied a cool glaze onto the blue-green-grey plain and mountain range n the distance.  Next, I applied a warm glaze of a yellow-orange hue over the arch itself and the rocks directly below it, but not on the red rocks seen through the arch.  Finally, I added some thin, dark lines along varying edges, and used the same concept of lines to create the plants on the lower border of the painting.

Gouache painting is really helping me “get” watercolor more completely.  Positive and negative space is becoming a more conscious thought, as are colors and methods to depict depth and distance.  It’s been a lot of fun to make a lot of little paintings some days, or only one another.  Each is a wonderful learning experience.

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