|"Animas Forks" Colored Pencil|
It’s a warm, summer evening in the San Juan Mountains near Silverton, Colorado where the Animas Forks River is born above the tree line. The turquoise torrent cascades down through a rock-hewn canyon of purple cliffs and into a spectacular basin entombed by towering peaks.
A few rows of dark trees are scattered diagonally across the wide open tundra. A sulphur sun streams golden rays through a verdant sky, bathing the surreal scene in ethereal light.
The color choice is influenced by the high altitude where the blazing orb sears through thin air, tinging the atmosphere with sulphur which gives the sky its green cast. Notice how swirls of this emerald color are reflected in the river current below.
Flush with the optimism that comes from fine weather, the bright highlights sparkle with intensity. Notice how the same colors are being used in different areas of the drawing. Carrying common pigment into multiple places across the surface is an effective way to unify the composition.
The entire picture is composed from patches of flat color which deliver a powerful effect similar to woodblock printing or a stained-glass window. By doing a bit of shading, though, the static atmosphere is transformed into a more dynamic work of art. The soft gradations indicate the direction of light and define the different forms.
For no other reason than sheer joy, the pure yellow is injected into the composition, reminding the viewer that this humble drawing is merely a simple arrangement of abstract shapes and cheerful colors. These exciting hues more honestly express the awesome beauty of summertime in the mountains.
Like a beating heart, the earthen core permeates the landscape with a mineral warmth from the inside out. More than a century ago, this fragile environment was devastated by man’s greedy quest for precious metal and some of the unhealed slopes still bear scars.
Known for its raucous past, the historical location is now literally a ghost town. After spending time in this magnificent wilderness, I know one thing for certain - the wealth extracted from these mountains, today, is measured in beauty instead of silver and gold.
If you would like to read a step-by-step tutorial about how this drawing was created please check out this issue of Carrie Lewis' CP Magic Magazine.