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What I Learned from a Distant View

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

I forced myself outside to experience painting "en plein air." No place else could I really see the true colors, I'd read. My job: simplify the view and capture the light on my chosen subject.

I chose Mt Baring. You can appreciate how much I ignored when you see that Mt Baring sits just below the word "view" in the photo of my easel out in the field.

This is the version of Mt Baring I painted in the field. I squinted to see how the shadows worked and where the light hit the snow. I struggled to get the hue to match the distant blue I saw. I couldn't seem to remove the sense that the mountain was purple.

Back in my studio, I tried to mix the right values in blue. These seems too gray to me.

Both paintings seemed lacking the verve I'd hoped to capture. The two seemed to advertise Mt. Baring as an easy hike for novices, with little to see and certainly no surprises.

Why do I find Baring interesting? Why do I always focus on it, when it means I have to ignore a large swath of landscape?

I sense that it's daring people to climb it. Wouldn't you love to reach the northern precipice and peer down the sheer cliff side? What obstacles must you pass to reach it?

I turned to my imagination. I started with a brilliant sky and thought through how the would fall on the jagged edges along Baring's flanks. In my mind's eye, I added the deep shadows cast by the rocky crags and the glaring snow caught by the sunshine.

Climbing Baring isn't a straight shot. It isn't easy. You have to appreciate the extremes. That's what I focused on for this last painting.

This is the Baring worth climbing. It's alive with possibilities.

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