The view here is of a fond stretch of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico — most notably a section of Philmont range, starting with Urraca Mesa on the far left followed by the north side of Tooth Ridge jutting in at an angle.
My friend Douglas took the panoramic photograph that this photo is based on. I’ve been cursing him ever since he sent me the photo. What a struggle trying to get the color of those mountains and the highlights upon them right! [Perpetual thought to self while painting: “What the heck color IS that anyway?!?“] I can assure you that whatever colors you think they are, you’re wrong, because I tried them and they didn’t look right! Ack!
And then the sky posed a further challenge: a perfectly clean and crisp gradient of white to blue, without a fleck of anything save a short line of rose clouds near the peaks. I painted it just like it appears in the photo, with a smooth clean surface, but found it…..boring. So I went it with some denser paint and a loose hand, adding some texture to the sky, as well as a larger cloud presence. The result? A much more satisfying and lively surface, and an ultimately more convincing atmospheric feel to the sky.