Prospecting for Plein Air Locations

| August 13, 2009

(Please click the window to see full size pictures)

Donna and I went on a great hike last Sunday to scout new plein air painting locations. About 20 minutes from our house is a Colorado State Park called Castlewod Canyon. I first saw the park about a year ago while taking the alternate state highway to Denver to catch a plane at Denver International Airport. Highway 83 is a two lane road that runs parallel to the primary Interstate that connects Colorado Springs and Denver. I like taking the state highway to avoid potential traffic delays into Denver and to take in views of the rolling Colorado countryside. In addition to amazing views, I also see horses, Alpaca farms, Bison, Texas Longhorn cattle and dilapidated homesteads. Ahhh, how great it is to live in such a wonderful place!

Anyway, Castlewood Canyon is about halfway between my house and Parker Colorado (click here for map). It is an unexpected geologic feast for the eyes that was carved by Cherry Creek, which meanders from the high country down to Denver. The Canyon drops from relatively flat Colorado prairie to form a wonderful mix of rock formations, vegetation and terrific hiking opportunities, not to mention easily accessible painting locations. The trail we took went along the creek bottom past enormous rocks that pushed the creek from side to side to create frequent little waterfalls and pools along the way. About two miles in, we came upon the Castlewood Dam ruins, which caused one of the worst floods in Colorado’s history. The dam, which was built in the late 1900’s, burst in 1933, sending a 15 foot wall of water into Denver that actually killed several people. As we walked down the trail, we could see remnants of the dam along the way. The abandoned Lucas homestead is also close by, which evidently became less desirable after the dam broke.

We spent about two hours in the canyon and I took about 85 pictures of potential painting locations that I could analyze back home. It’s nice to have a plan of attack when venturing out of doors to paint in an effort to optimize the time spent on location. Above are a few of my favorite pictures from the outing. The one that hit me the most was the wide view of the park, which is the last photo in the set. Donna and I both were taken back by the beauty of the view, which I believe will be a great start to a nice painting. I hope to visit the park during the winter to paint some snow scenes as well. I will post those pictures once the snow flies!

Category: Fine Art and Painting