liz digs life

View From Ampersand Mountain, Watercolor and Pen

I created a mixed media piece today based on a photo I took during a hike in the Adirondacks. This is one of the views from Ampersand Mountain, which is located between Upper Saranac Lake and the actual town of Saranac Lake. The access to the trail is right across from Middle Saranac Lake.

Saranac Lake region

This is an easy and quick 2.7 mile hike, but it is the quick change in elevation that makes it challenging. In that 2.7 miles you gain 1,775 feet in elevation. As usual, the last third of the trail is the hardest part. The summit is 3,353 feet.

north west view of Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes

From the summit, the view looking north west over looks all the Saranac lakes and the view looking south east overlooks the high peaks. It was the view of the high peaks that I chose for this painting. It really is a tremendous view of the high peak region.

south east view of the high peak region

I always loved this photo because of the all the different shades of blue as the mountains recede. The farther away the mountains are, the lighter and lighter they become. The sky was amazing that day. Blue and clear with puffy white clouds. Perfect for seeing a long distance.

I don’t usually illustrate my paintings first, but this was pretty fun. I enjoyed the ability to add detail to the trees and clouds, then use the paints to create the shading.

I kept the pencil sketch real simple. Just enough to develop a simple line drawing with pen. I used a waterproof Micron so that the ink would not bleed and run when I started painting over it.

The pen sketch adds more detail than the pencil drawing. I love the way the Balsams get all scraggly on the top of the mountain. Life is pretty hard up there. The diversity of plant life, and how tough those plants are, amazes me every time.

I didn’t want to go very dark with this painting. By keeping it lighter I was able to keep the subtle changes in shades of blue and grey to represent the distance.

This was a fun experiment. I like the illustrated look of the pen and watercolor together. Definitely will try this again.


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