A few weeks ago, I went out to paint in a location where I had taken a ride to view ancient "first people's "ruins. This whole area is a painter's dream.
What struck me at this time was the blanket of wildflowers beneath towering red rock formations. I had to come back to render this in pastel; the rocks had rich dark shadows, with the sun illuminating some edges as it grew stronger.
Coconino Spring, pastel, 12x16
My usual pastel plein air size has been 9x12, as it's just the size that fits in my guerrilla box.
I knew that this would be limiting, for these massive formations and open field, so I went for a 12x16. I taped the paper to a foam board a little bigger, and used a bungee cord to hold the board to my box- worked great!
I concentrated on the light and shadow areas on the rocks, knowing that this would be the area that would be changing the most. As I worked,I was enthralled with the reflected light, and the jewel tones in the shadows. On location, I only made a "color note" for the sky, where it pressed up against the rock, knowing I could block it in later, as well as just some rough indications for the vegetation. Looking at it the next day, I decided I liked the "partial "sky, and my visual notes for desert scrub.
So, I ended up with a piece that is a little bigger, and looser to boot!