Moonrise over Blackstar Canyon

(Update: finished painting above)

I was inspired to try another larger studio piece this week. This painting, “Moonrise Over Blackstar Canyon” was created using a plein air color study and photography for reference. It’s 20×30, oil on linen. I’m not quite sure if it’s finished yet.


I drove over to Blackstar Canyon a few weeks ago when the rest of the world was watching the Superbowl. After spending an hour or two painting the distant ridges, I was packing up to leave when I turned around and saw the moon rising over the ridge right behind me. This happens all the time! After hours focused in one direction, it’s when you’re packing up to leave that the rest of the world is on fire with inspiration.

The sun and shadow on the hill made such simple shapes I couldn’t resist and quickly pulled out another canvas. I had about 15 minutes to note the vibrant colors before the effect was gone completely.


I was thankful to meet an encouraging walker who stopped to watch my process and offered to photograph the hill in case I wanted to work on the painting more later. Thank you, Pam, for sending me your photo! I had a lot of fun working on this one.