On the last glorious sunny day I hiked back down the McKinley Bar trail, hoping the frost had not entirely wiped out the colors we saw on our rainy day hike. No such luck, the trees were going brown, though there was still color in the low vegetation.

While I was working, two young men from Fairbanks/North Pole, Chad Odom and Diego Servan, hiked down the trail and stopped to talk and take pictures. Many thanks to Chad Odom for these photos of me and my set up.

They were interested in how I set out the paints on the palette. I explained my strings of color, arranged by hue, value, and chroma (for more on strings, see my post of 8/18/10.) . These were colors I premixed and tubed for the trip. You can see some reds and yellows from the Munsell soils book, and some blues and greens from the Munsell student book. It sure is easier to squeeze colors from a tube than trying to mix them on the palette while fighting off bugs!

As I worked on the painting, it occurred to me that I was in danger of falling into heavy cliche territory: big mountain, autumn colors, reflecting pool, perfect, right? Or maybe not, maybe too much like a cheap postcard????

Luckily, there was a broken up tree just to my right, which relieved a bit of the perfection. Those familiar with paintings of McKinley will say, yes, but the mountain with dead tree in foreground is also a cliche. Point taken, but my tree is even more broken up than most, so I think it does the job.

Here is an oil sketch, McKinley Bar Trail Reflection, by Mary Bee Kaufman, painted at a nearby location, but before the colors were completely gone. I like how the trees, with their variety, shadows, and reflections, create visual interest, and how the soft edges portray the indistinct boundaries of the marsh stream. The whole effect is light and delicate.

This is the final chapter of our plein air trip to Denali National Park. Look for a link to Chad Odom's blog here soon. He is about to start some world travel, and will be posting more of his excellent photos on his blog as he goes.

McKinley in Autumn 2 is oil on linen panel, 10" x 12"

To purchase, contact me at info@carollambertarts.com