40" x 30"
We were just starting out on a long mountain trail that promised to end in a lake. The early morning light was beginning to spread over the far valley while the near valley was still cloaked in a deep cerulean blue. The entire scene was framed by the smooth, yellow ochre bark of Trembling Aspens. They were almost completely back lighted making the leaves translucent. Only thin strips of sun struck their trunks. The bark of this type of Aspen, Populus tremuloides, is a perfect complement to the deep blues in the background.
I quickly set up my tripod to get some high quality pictures from which I could make a composition back in the studio. I was feeling a little guilty because we had a long hike ahead of us and if I were going to be stopping every 100 yards, we would never make it to the lake. I started to explain to my wife why I had to stop, but she was also lost in the magic of this moment. She assured me that I had better get the pictures now because on the way back down the lighting would be totally different. And it was. On the way back down, we almost walked right past this spot without even recognizing it. It’s all about light.
Initially I thought to anchor the trees in the shrubs that lined the trail, but instead I took a higher perspective, one which would give an impression of space. Upon seeing the painting, a friend remarked that she imagined herself flying into the valley. So, the high perspective was a good choice, I thought. The light bending over the edge of the mountain turned the trees at the crest shades of mauve. The sky itself was made with a very light tint of Cadmium Red, by gently slapping the flat of the knife onto the surface to create points of paint which were scraped with a knife when they dried and then run over with a light tint of Cobalt Blue to capture the speckled nature of the morning light.