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Sketching the poetry of light

Springtime in the Rockies is an uncertain season that sometimes begins in February and deals out valley snow in June.  This year, a milder than usual winter has frayed into the edges of an early spring, with sun-bright days made just for plein air sketching.

Last week included a lake-side jaunt with the Oquirrh Mountains (appropriately pronounced "ochre," like the pigment) to the north, the hazy spine of the Tintic Mountains perched in the west on the lip of nowhere, and the southern arm of the Wasatch asleep along the margin of the lake.  This paint-sketch essay on atmospheric conditions (pictured right) was the result.

Yesterday we meandered north along the Wasatch to Battle Creek, where a grove of cottonwoods stands with its back to the foothills rising sharply just a few yards from Al's easel.  Shimmering between the fingers of the trees to the west, above Al's head, the snowy teeth of the Oquirrhs shimmer like a bank of clouds under the morning sky.  The result was another oil-sketch in monochrome.  Like last week's sketch, the purpose wasn't to render a map of the subject's anatomy, but to capture the poetry in the light that animates it.

While Al worked at a travel easel, Elspeth settled into the scrub oak along the brow of the creek to paint with water colors.  Surrounded by the barren boughs of the brush, and the music of the stream tumbling headlong toward the valley below, she painted the first of the clumps of summer green emerging along the watercourse.

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