The Last Sunset (is that dramatic or what?)

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains

Lest anyone become weary of sunset paintings (is that even possible??), this one is the last sunset themed piece in the most recent grouping of paintings I've completed. In all seriousness, I feel like I've really grown from this. I usually do "daytime" paintings but was asked to work on two coastal sunset themed commissions about a month ago. Because I was in a sense forced to tackle a sunset, I took my time and applied what I've learned in the last couple years to both pieces. As it turns out, I had so much fun with those sunset paintings that I had to try more, working on a mountain (as opposed to coastal) setting.

I think I will be painting more sunsets (and maybe some sunrises too). They're just too much fun. You really can play with extreme dark and extreme light, and extreme contrast in the complimentary colors (i.e. the oranges and yellows in the sky playing against the blues and violets in the mountains). Everything is extreme. Too much fun!

The Blue Mountains
by Henry Lawson

Above the ashes straight and tall, 
Through ferns with moisture dripping, 
I climb beneath the sandstone wall, 
My feet on mosses slipping. 

Like ramparts round the valley's edge
The tinted cliffs are standing, 
With many a broken wall and ledge, 
And many a rocky landing. 

And round about their rugged feet
Deep ferny dells are hidden
In shadowed depths, whence dust and heat
Are banished and forbidden. 

The stream that, crooning to itself, 
Comes down a tireless rover, 
Flows calmly to the rocky shelf, 
And there leaps bravely over. 

Now pouring down, now lost in spray
When mountain breezes sally, 
The water strikes the rock midway, 
And leaps into the valley. 

Now in the west the colours change, 
The blue with crimson blending; 
Behind the far Dividing Range, 
The sun is fast descending. 

And mellowed day comes o'er the place, 
And softens ragged edges; 
The rising moon's great placid face
Looks gravely o'er the ledges.

Sunset or Sunrise? End or Beginning?

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains

Summer Scenes from the Blue Ridge

Here is my next "Sunset" themed piece. Someone last week asked "Is that sunset or sunrise"? Good question since this is just a scene out of my head but to me, this looks restful, not "waking". Now the crickets begin to chirp and cicadas begin their song, unceasing through the night. Someday, I'll paint a good sunrise but for now, this one to me is definitely and happily a sunset over the Blue Ridge mountains. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge parkway in either direction from Asheville at about 8:00 tonight and this is what you'll most likely see (and this is why I love living in Western North Carolina. 

"Summer Path Thru the Birch Trees"

Already Longing for Summer

Introducing...."Summer Path Thru the Birch Trees" (18" x 24") This was a revisiting of an older oil painting I did a couple years ago. This time, I went smaller and added more texture and trees. And rather than finished with a thick glossy coat of resin, I finished it with a softer, more subtle finish (satin varnish) which seals it all but still leaves all the texture visible. This composition reminds me of an awesome summer back when I was a young teenager. My brother had a best friend who had a family cabin and many, many acres of property on the north shore of Francois Lake in northern British Columbia, Canada. The deal was that he would spend a couple months there on the lake, and then we (my mom, dad and sister) would come visit for several days and pick him up. We meandered up the Pacific Coast Highway, visited my uncle on Bainbridge Island just off the coast from Seattle, crossed into Canada at Vancouver and drove north up the Fraser River Valley toward Francois Lake.

Francois Lake was a remote and awesome finger lake, very deep and very clear. The water was so pure that the locals had to ADD minerals to it so they could drink it and still get the minerals they needed to be healthy. Crazy. And the old farm (complete with rustic log house and cool old barns) was amazing. I'd never seen a place like it before. The old dirt roads and fields were mostly overgrown (it had been a while since it was a real working farm) but I clearly remember exploring along the road to the upper field, birch trees and wild flowers surrounding me everywhere. The sound of birch trees in the wind is unforgettable. 

Anyway, I can't paint a landscape featuring birch trees and not remember that spectacular summer holiday. We've since visited Canada many times (from coast to coast) and never tire of the spectacular beauty of that place.