The title is a bit of a misnomer. I've been back in Moab, Utah for a few days now. Although it's only my second stay here this Spring, it's actually my sixth trip here to paint. Since 2016 I've now spent almost ten weeks painting in the Moab area, and it still feels more like home than any other place I've had the privilege to explore.
Unlike my mid-March trip, I'm not sick and I actually have a bike again - a major perk while staying in the mecca of mountain biking. I've learned that no matter how well I paint or how many other measures of success I might experience in life, if I can't get out and occasionally engage in adventure, then nothing else is particularly satisfying.
In other words, I find myself troubled if I ever feel as though I'm sacrificing my health for my career. Moab is a place where I can usually balance it all perfectly. It also helps that it's 75 and sunny here, while the forecast back in Minneapolis calls for lows in the single digits and a few inches of snow.
My goal upon returning to Moab was to finish a few paintings I started in March, and to take my time on scenes rather than rush to maximize a single session painting. Instead, I'm trying to allow myself to start paintings without any intent of finishing them that day. Because I'm painting things very close to camp, in places I genuinely enjoy being, It's actually quite delightful knowing that something will compel me to return to the same place again.
In the past I've largely avoided big vistas for various reasons, and admittedly one of those reasons was inexperience. There aren't many opportunities to paint atmospheric perspective in the Midwest. In fact, it wasn't until I was a 20-year-old college student studying in Italy that I first witnessed endless hills receding into faded blues in evening light. Now I chase those colors; Moab is perfect for it. I've never been anywhere so vibrant; my palette reflects that.
Color choices aside, successfully rendering some of these big views requires accurate values, and I've been intrigued this week looking at completely de-saturated images of some of my recent work.
Sometimes I'm a bit... self conscious about the saturation of colors in my paintings. I feel a bit more justified in my color choices when I look at the values and realize I was still observing with some sort of accuracy. If an image reads in black and white, it's built on a solid foundation.
In other news, I managed to finally drop my brushes off a cliff. I'm not particularly proud of the episode, but the painting from the day was still quality and I consider it an amusing - and inevitable - experience. At least I had a friend there to laugh with me.