Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sierra Pack Trip - Day 2

So Tuesday was the first day of painting for me. I got up at sunrise, as did everyone else, had two or three cups of cowboy coffee (already brewing on the camp stove by the time I crawled out of my tent - nice!) and got started on my first painting. I knew that I wanted to do the same view as my last year's first sketch.  Not exactly the same, obviously, because it was a different time of the day, and I don't think I set up at the same exact spot either. No matter, I just thought it would be kinda neat to compare the two and see what changed in the way I see and paint.

Here's my thumbnail for the painting. Rather rough and loose. The idea for the composition wasn't complicated so it didn't require too much investigation before I stared.

And below is last year's painting of the same scene. 

Now that I look at it, it doesn't even look like the same spot. The angle was obviously different since I can see trees in the background - and this was more of a closer study of the boulders than this year's sketch, which looked at more of the peninsula. 

With one painting done, it was time for breakfast. I don't usually eat breakfast at home but boy was I hungry. Eggs and bacon really hit the spot~

After breakfast I set up my easel just down the hill from my tent and tried this view;

By now the sun was up and hitting the tree masses from the far side, giving me a nice rim lit tree mass against a still-dark background. The violet in the background is a subjective choice here. It wasn't really that color - I was playing with the idea of structuring my painting around orange, green and purple - orange in front, green in mid distance, and purple in back.  The purple is a little strong but otherwise I'm happy with this experiment.

da tumnail.

Here's the view. More or less.

Michele deBragan├ža doing her morning painting not too far away from my set up.

Next, I turned my easel 90 degrees and painted this view. The shadow pattern on the hill caught my eye. The challenge was balancing abstraction with organization. I expected this to be more abstract since it's all bushy and organic - A few shrubs at the bottom and the trail going up the hill provide some structure, but I struggled with the opposing urges of making my trees solid and simple (more like the previous painting) versus making them completely abstract. The result  looks to me like I couldn't make up my mind. Haha~  

Indecision screams.

Here's my thumbnail. What I see from this is that I deviated from my original plan, which is to treat the darkness of the trees and the shadows on the hill as one unit (more or less). In other words, I got a little too literal in places, (seduced by the thingness of things) and that's where I went wrong.

Here's Timon, doing his pastel thang, not too far away from me.

After lunch, it was time to slow down and recharge. I tried to take a nap but was too excited. Still, I can't sustain the level of focus painting requires for long, so I forced myself to rest for a few hours. Gene, our cook, made a little afternoon snack / pre-dinner appetizer. Look at that apple swan thing! And camenbert?  Fancy eats at 10,500ft, folks~ this is roughin' it. :-)

 The sun is going down to the Western mountains, and the shadows are lengthening. We are in the valley surrounded by high peaks so on the valley floor the sunlight is gone fairly early.  The surrounding mountain tops continue to be illuminated in glorious light for hours afterwards)  I was more interested in painting my immediate surroundings than big views, so I needed to take advantage of the light before it disappeared.  This is Bob's and Paul's tent.

...and the thumb. 

For dinner Gene cooked chicken, but gave us a choice between white wine and tarragon sauce, or ginger orange sauce. Talk about gourmet camp food! Gene's about as rough looking as any cowboy / pirate as any character NC Wyeth painted, and has the voice and the demeanor to go with it. Can you imagine the phrase "you have a choice between white tarragon sauce, or ginger orange sauce" coming out of such a character? The disconnect was pretty funny. And we all enjoyed the meal very much.


  1. What a great adventure you are on, really interesting to read about. I'm learning a lot with your breakdowns, especially how you handle the color all around you.
    Keep 'em coming!

  2. I dido what Judy said. Love this input. What a great ride!!

  3. thanks judy and randy~

    more to come!