Drowning in the Beauty of Avalanche Lake

Well actually, I drowned in the beauty of Avalanche Lake, and I survived to enjoy crafting this landscape in pastel. There are a variety of nuances to this painting that I will explore below that I created above and beyond the reference photo.

"Avalanche Lake," 21x27 pastel on Uart 400 sanded paper.


The Avalanche Lake hike is a 4.5 mile trip that begins at the Trail of the Cedars trailhead off the Going-To-The-Sun Road at Glacier National Park. Below is the reference photo. We reached the lake around 10 am as the sun was barely climbing over the peaks on the left.

The reference photo is rather simple, with a few large masses: the mountains, pine trees and the lake. My plan for this painting included changing the composition, creating patterns in the water and land, and kicking up the colors. First, the composition.


The placement of the large rock in the lower left, and additional rocks toward the right and center of the canvas, helped to draw the viewer's eye into the painting. While onsite taking photos, I was sure to capture various rocks, logs, water highlights and fog emanating from the cool glacier waters, to add to the composition in the studio. The weathered cedar logs on the right were brought in to also draw the viewer's attention toward the mountains, and the focal point, namely the lightest area at the base of the mountains where the sun is catching the landscape.


Bearhat Mountain was largely in shade at this time of the morning. However, by carefully studying the mountain's landscape, I could see various crevices, cliffs, masses of pines, waterfalls and snow throughout. The pastel painting brings forth these features, and kicks up the color.

Finally, there are a variety of reflections and lines in the painting. The reflections of the slope of snow on the right as it darts across the water toward the viewer, as well as the reflections of the waterfalls and the subtle, light line that continues the slope of snow from the right, as a reflection in the water on the left. The shadows in the water and trails of reflections also create patterns in the lake and in the muddy surface.


Pinks, purples, aqua and blues are exaggerated to build drama in this otherwise simple landscape. Color, reflections and lines combine to enhance the scene and to bring out the vast beauty of this vista.








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