Monday, March 14, 2016

Painting Snow Hoodoos

Snow Hoodoos Near Balu Pass

    This is the second painting, just finished, from our Canadian backcountry travels, featuring one of my favorite things - hoodoos. Some of you may know hoodoos from the deserts and 'badlands' of our western states but snow can also make more temporary hoodoos.   
   Alberta has famous hoodoos out in the dry prairies near Drumheller. Travel west through the mountains, past the front ranges and into British Columbia where the snow is usually deep, to find snow hoodoos. I have seen hoodoos in Banff National Park, near the town of Banff, but deeper into British Columbia hoodoos are bigger and more easily found. They form over trees or rock and often have a mushroom shape where protected from wind.
   'Snow Hoodoos Near Balu Pass' takes us into the Rogers Pass backcountry. Rogers Pass area in the Selkirk mountains is well known to Canadian skiers for steep, avalanche filled valleys, spectacular scenery and challenging skiing.Snow here can be several meters deep and the sheltered valleys allow hoodoos to form.
   These hoodoos formed over rock outcroppings. They are 6-8 feet wide (2-3meters). Sometimes there is enough space under one to stand up inside it. Carefully!
   Beyond the hoodoos and out of sight in the painting is Balu Pass, a lovely open ridge surrounded by higher peaks with lots of open space for an afternoon of telemarking.

   This painting was started by doing a color palette to decide the basic range of colors and values.
Ken DeWaard , I'm thinking about values!
   Values from dark to light were made for three blues; cerulean, cobalt and ultramarine. Then I made samples of these colors with black added.

   Early stage of the painting I try to get the basic shapes and values. Still not very efficient with that so often redo it several times.

   What seems like a simple, one color snowfield quickly turns into a complex mix of shapes and values. Trying to keep it simple here but those details creep in all too soon. At this point I forgot about taking pictures for a while. I'll try to get more of each stage of development on another painting. This has been changed and changed again, before ending up as below. My photos don't show the values completely.

Deep snow, higher altitude and dry clear air can cause snow to intensify colors and seem luminous. The photo does not quite capture that so I'll keep trying to get better pictures.

 Now I'm doing sketches for figures, and thinking about where they will be placed in the scene. One of the pleasures of these paintings is the figures in them are my friends. This painting features Bob and Fritz. I make sketches of skiers in different positions, using a photo reference for how their clothes or packs look. My photos taken while negotiating trails and carrying a heavy pack are quickly snapped and oriented on the large expanse of scenery so figures tend to be small, dark and indistinct against the brilliant white surroundings and don't offer much information for later use.
   Once the figures are in the scene they bring perspective and scale to the long range view and the painting is finished. For now. It goes into hiding for a couple weeks, then I'll look at it again and check for anything that needs adjusting.

Snow Hoodoos Near Balu Pass 20"x16"

   Thanks for checking in. I appreciate comments! If you like this blog, please share with your friends and on FaceBook or other social media. Then, go outside and enjoy the day.






  1. Never heard of a hoodoo. Thanks for the lesson..and beautiful painting..inspired

  2. Never heard of a hoodoo. Thanks for the lesson..and beautiful painting..inspired


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