Blue Butte Process

December 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Blue Butte is another in a series of eight paintings made for a short silent film, now in production. It features one of the famous Mittens Buttes in Monument Park, Utah, as well as the Orion constellation.

Blue Butte, Watercolor and Gouache on Paper, 5 x 9”, 2011

Often, when I am conjuring imagery for an artwork, I will see small flashes of compositions, which I quickly sketch out.  For this piece, I saw a steep mountain of rock shaped like the iconic Mittens Buttes, with stars behind it.  Pictured below is the original thumbnail drawing from my sketchbook.

Blue Butte Original Thumbnail Sketch, Graphite on Paper, 3 x 6″, 2011

From this small thumbnail composition, I found a photograph of the butte icon that closely resembled what I wanted in my image, and then used photoshop to make a color study mock-up before I began the final watercolor painting. Drawing digitally allows me to try different colors and compositions to see which resonates the most.

Blue Butte Color Mock-Up, Digital, 2011

The morning I finished this piece was coincidentally the culmination of a week of torrential rain in Mae Sot, Thailand, where we were living. That same morning, unbeknownst to us, the Thai authorities opened the reservoir floodgates, which resulted in overflowing the nearby canal and flooding our neighborhood.

My partner Elizabeth and I packed out everything we needed to keep dry in our backpacks, and stayed in a guesthouse until it was safe to return to our home.  Here is a photo of the artwork with a view from our guesthouse of the the abandoned, burned out theater next door.

The picturesque view from our guesthouse during the flood of our neighborhood in June of 2011.

To see more of my artwork, please visit


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