The Sleeping Giant


Last week I taught a plein air workshop in Steamboat Springs and I painted this in the early afternoon of the second day. It was cloudy and misty and, along with the joy of painting, it was fun to watch the changing sky. This timeless view of sleeping giant mountain has always fascinated me because you see land leading up to the giant that remains open and undeveloped. Because I lived in Steamboat Springs for ten years, I have seen the sleeping giant in all the different seasons and, in the winter when it snows, he appears to be sleeping under a white blanket.

I started with the sky using a very wet brush and different shades of gray to capture the moving clouds. Because the sky kept changing it was tempting to keep working in this area but I restrained myself and moved on to paint the giant. Using perylene green and olive green I created the structure with dark values and a limited amount of detail. The distant mountains behind the sleeping giant are a combination of cobalt violet and cerulean blue and the soft edges on the right allow the clouds to drift down into that mountain range. I used a combination of hard and soft edges along the base of the mountain so that it seems to melt into the rolling hills.

The horizontal shapes of land get slightly warmer as they come forward and the fence posts in the foreground hold your interest in that area. I actually used my pencil to create the wire fence because I wanted it to be barely visible. Iconic views like this abound in the Yampa Valley and I am always thrilled to return on painting trips. I will be in Steamboat Springs again when the autumn colors arrive and the sleeping giant will be covered in green and gold. I get excited conjuring up visions of what I will paint. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

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