|"Pikes Peak Winter" Colored Pencil|
Dominating the skyline at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak has been inspiring explorers, gold seekers and artists for over 200 years. It’s named after the adventurer Zebulon Pike who first beheld the majestic mountain in 1806.
Rising out of rugged terrain, Garden of the Gods is a glorious gateway to the remarkable peak. During the winter Pikes Peak is speckled with white snow as much of the powder has been whisked away by a ferocious wind.
The dramatic scenery features red sandstone slabs that stand out sharply against the dark greenery flourishing below. In this drawing, the white of the paper is the lightest end of the value scale while the foreground shadows are the darkest end.
Shading the bushes is an effective way to create variety in tone, describe forms and imply detail while generating interest in the foreground elements. The subtle gradations clearly define the separate sections of brush.
The composition’s warm undertone is a base layer that forms a foundation upon which to build the rest of the colors. The underdrawing also acts as a neutralizer for the cooler blues and greens that come later.
Toning down those brighter colors results in a more naturalistic drawing. The warm undertone continues to permeate through the finished piece, unifying the composition’s overall color scheme.
The soft shading in the snow gives a hint of the golden granite that’s exposed beneath the peak’s fresh powder. The sky, as it is here, is usually the lightest part of any given landscape because it’s the earth’s light source.
Displaying a simple sky in this composition works because it doesn’t distract from the featured elements - the snowy peak and the dramatic rock formation.
The rock line is a focal point of this drawing because it’s such a unique geologic feature. The backlit rocks display reflected light from the grassland so by shading them from left to right, a warm glow appears along their backside thus replicating an intriguing visual phenomenon.
The middle values are reserved for the middle ground elements. The colors have been subdued by the warm undertone and the details eliminated because that area is a transition zone. It links the two focal points - the red rocks with the white peak.
The green mountain contrasts a bit with the sandstone slabs while the far, blue peaks appear more distant. The snow shadows are a nice violet because of the pink undertone.
Adding yellow to the lower part of the landscape brings that area forward, organizing the illusion of distance as the viewer’s eye moves up the page. The delicate layer of Blue Slate slightly cools and neutralizes the Light Umber, producing a subtle gray in the snow caps.
Shading Indigo Blue into the bushes deepens their color and makes them the darkest objects in the drawing, placing them firmly in the foreground. Introducing Crimson Red into the rock formation directs attention there and being surrounded by contrasting green foliage, that important element becomes even more fiery.
Working Ultramarine Blue into the ashen rocks produces some of the drawing’s darkest values and sharpest contrast. The extra detailing also makes that area one of the more prominent parts of the composition.
The summit of Pikes Peak is intentionally positioned in a compositional sweet spot but the addition of Ultramarine Blue to its shadow also attracts attention. The high contrast between the blue pigment and the white paper pulls the viewer’s eye towards that part of the drawing.
Applying a single layer of Yellow Orange to the rock’s highlights prevents them from being bleached out by the bright sunlight. The soft application still allows for strong contrast but also offers a hint of color, leaving the white snow as the only part of the drawing untouched.
For detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to draw this mountain landscape with colored pencils, please check out the September issue of Ann Kullberg’s Color Magazine