View from Mt. Elbert

Scrounged up this old 9 foot long triptych from 1997 to see if I could bring it to a close. In September (Oct?) of ’96 I’d summited Mt. Elbert (14,400) with some buddies. Although it is the highest peak in Colorado, it is an easy hike with a constant grade and good trail. We camped out the night before- their tent wasn’t proof to a late night wind/sleet storm but they toughed out damp sleeping bags and warmed up on the trail. The blustery weather followed us up the peak, and snow settled upon the summit as we headed down. At the day’s end, back at the trailhead, the sun warmly dappled through forests of Aspen in high color, while rivers jumped clear and cold.

The photos of the paintings are a bit off, but close enough to get the idea. Using pure hues at full saturation was a challenge I used to grapple with, and it was silly fun to jump back into this “lost work”. Balancing out a composiotion with such colors is always a challenge, and in this instance there was an opportunity for reference-driven yellow (Aspen). Yellow is always a challenge to modulate, and to engage successfull in a composition. I felt the yellow required a strong use of the complentary color of Purple, which describes the viewer’s anchor point of Mt. Elbert itself sprawling through all 3 panels- which then allows primary colors of Red & Blue for surrounding alpine peaks. Then there is the temperature contrast of red plains to the stormy sky, and the complemtary contrast of green forests to red hills and plains. Yellow is modulated heavily, but the camera has trouble picking that up here. White was also a major player: as snow; day-old snow melting from the boulders on Mt Elbert, and fresh snow beginning to overlay recent snowfall on the surrounding peaks; and white as storm, with bright sun hitting clouds in the center panel to misty snow-verga dropping from cold storm clouds.


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