Playing with Haystacks

Playing with Haystacks © Nelia Harper
Playing with Haystacks © Nelia Harper

Do you remember the joy of discovery as a child?  Do you remember being awed and amazed by the world?  Last summer, I had the privilege of spending some time with my niece, a budding artist.  One morning, we took a walk and discovered this field full of freshly rolled hay bales.  Ava immediately ran into the field.  She wanted to touch them and could hardly contain her excitement.

I caught a quick photo of the moment and turned it into this painting.  I wanted to capture that moment of joy and awe with the red barn sitting in the distance and low, humid clouds along the horizon.  There is a sense of timelessness to the piece.  A little girl in a big world.

Bluff Begins at Dawn

Bluff Begins at Dawn © Nelia Harper
Bluff Begins at Dawn © Nelia Harper

There’s a little island in the Caribbean that rises up from the sea, Cayman Brac.  Landing in a little prop plane, the island seems to slumber as the world spins faster and faster.  I have been lucky to be able to visit this island several times and each time the magic of the morning light, the call of the birds, the crash of the surf and the silence creates a sense of magic and peace.

I had been thinking about painting this spot long before we arrived.  One morning, I woke up in inky darkness, grabbed my pack and a bottle of water, and headed for the southeast end of the island.  Just as I completed my hike along the craggy, limestone karst shore, the sun was beginning to rise out of the sea.

I wanted to capture the light glistening on the rock, the dew on the leaves, and the crash of the surf as the giant rock continues it’s precarious balance.

Bluff Begins at Dawn - Detail
Bluff Begins at Dawn – Detail

Terry Ludwig Intense Darks

I’m working on a piece that requires some really dark values.  Deep, rich, earthy, aged, and vibrant are words that come to mind.  I ordered a complete set of Terry Ludwig Intense Darks after trying out a few during a class.

They arrived yesterday and Intense they are!

Terry Ludwig Pastels - Intense Darks
Terry Ludwig Pastels – Intense Darks

Not only are the intense, but they are dark.  Perfect for deep shadows, layering, blending and developing form in objects and landscape.  I’m not sure how often I’ll use the super bright reds and oranges on the left, but the purples, greens blues and earth tones will be perfect for strong Colorado Landscapes.

They are powdery, yet firm.  Intense and dark and vibrant.  I played with them for a few minutes, mostly gazing at the intensity and looking for the subtle variations in some of the blues and greys.

This is going to be fun.

Mallard’s Playground

Mallard's Playground © Nelia Harper
Mallard’s Playground © Nelia Harper

This little pond is on the way to one of my favorite hiking spots. In the fall, the golden leaves of the trees glow, especially against the backdrop of a crisp, blue sky.  I can almost smell the dirt and water.  Last fall, I planned to create this painting.  I started it several weeks ago and then set it aside while I searched for the right yellow.  I finally picked up some bright yellow, pastel that makes the trees shine.

My goal was to capture the crisp feeling of fall in Colorado as the trees blaze orange and yellow against the bright blue sky.

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