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Painting the Colorado Rockies

I’ve been hiking the Colorado rockies a lot this summer, getting new reference and ideas. I become more familiar with the peaks from different angles, different times of day and more in tune with what appeals to me as a painter.

My goal is to look for contrast in lighting, diagonals, and foreground interest, but I don’t really know if I have anything useful until I go through my photos back in my studio. Often out of thousands of photos I will find only a couple I like.


Sometimes my hikes don’t lead to anything useful. I can do a fake hike on google as a visual planner, but it can’t tell me whether I’ll find what I want, just roughly how long it will take to arrive.

I find that often it’s moments when I’m without my art supplies or camera when I see something just perfect, it’s probably because I tend to ride my bike at dusk along the foothills.

It’s also probably why I over-prepared for one of my hikes this past week, carrying 20lbs of art supplies on my back as I climbed up towards 12,000 feet in rough terrain. I felt every one of those big rocky steps downward on my knees and didn’t crack open my drawing pad once as I was trying to locate as many new places in one stretch as I could.


Even though I am still looking for new views of Colorado, I still return to others like different views of Hallet’s Peak or Long’s Peak which are some of the peaks local to me. Soon I’ll head out toward Aspen though, to find new views. In some ways I’m very lucky, I live within an hour of some amazing National Parks. Even Aspen is only a little over 3 hours, when it used to take me six to drive to Sequoia when I lived in Los Angeles for similar hikes.

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