Painting a day 2016-Day 5-Elk in snow

Elk in snow

Elk in snow-study

Day 5 brought about a fun little study I’ve been wanting to work into a larger painting ever since I witnessed the scene.  I have a ton of reference photos both digital and film.  It is fun to dig through some of my files when having a painting block or just needing a fresh subject to spur the process.  My first trip to the mountains yielded 36 rolls of film.  It took me a month or two to develop it all…..yeah, a bit over board, I’m sure, but, I didn’t want to miss anything.  I should’ve just made the leap to digital before that trip, I could’ve paid for the camera in what it cost in film and developing…ha ha.

So thankful for digital cameras!

While camping a few years ago, in early October, in the Rocky Mountains, not long after getting out and about for the day, it started to snow.  Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE snow, especially a very wet snow like the one that was starting to fall.  There’s something magical and peaceful about snow.  It quiets everything and covers all of the dirt, trash, etc. and makes even an unappealing view, beautifully blanketed.  I love and cherish my time spent in the mountains and the falling snow added to the excitement.  We set out, hoping to capture some photographs of wildlife in the snow.  It wasn’t long before we happened along a couple of young, bull elk.  They were just 2 and 4 point bulls or as we call them, spikes and forked-horns.  They weren’t the massive and impressive bulls we saw the day before, but still, I was fascinated at how they laid there, letting the snow fall on them and build up….almost as if they were just enjoying watching the snow fall as we were.  Later, we found a small herd with several cows and calves. The calves were bucking and playing in the snow, much to the dismay of their mommas.  It seems we were all going to enjoy the day and the temporary change in weather.  The snow wasn’t supposed to last long or accumulate much at this altitude and was predicted to melt off by the next day.  It stayed gray and snowy for most of the day and my reference photos ended up being rather underexposed and a bit soft but, I thought to myself, they will still serve a purpose.  They will help me to remember the details and force me to use my artistic license and develop the painting further without relying solely on a photo.

So….day 5, is the first study from the snowy day.  I’m sure there will be others to follow.  Enjoy.

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