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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Kokanee Run" - pastel painting en plein air

9 x 12 pastel
Yesterday I went plein air painting with a friend at Taylor Creek, Lake Tahoe, during the Kokanee Salmon run.  This was my first time to see this event, and it attracts a lot of visitors, as well as black bears feeding on the salmon.  Kokanee Salmon are a land-locked relative of the Sockeye Salmon of the Pacific Northwest.  "Kokanee" in Native American tongue means "red fish".  In 1944 the Kokanee were introduced to Lake Tahoe and they do not grow as large as their salt-water cousins.  In the fall they return to the creek where they were spawned to mate, lay eggs, and die.  Although the local black bears have a vegetarian diet, some are seen along the banks, feasting on the salmon.

We surveyed the creek near the Visitor's Center, and also the creek upstream away from the populated areas.  I chose to paint near the Visitor's Center, because it was still morning and not that many people were there.  Most took a look, stayed about 20 minutes, then left.  My friend opted for the creek upstream, where it was very private.

Both of us had trouble concentrating on our work!  My friend was distracted by noises in the bush, and would have to check to see if it were bear...but it was only chipmunks.  One thing you don't want to do is startle a bear, or, have a mom bear with cubs happen upon you.  But when you are painting, you are quiet and not making noise that would alert an approaching bear.  This makes me think maybe a portable battery operated CD player might be a good idea?

Now, I was on a stretch of beach along the creek, way at the end.  For a while, I only had the occasional vacationer who just had to ask me questions and so forth.  Then cam a busload of grammar school kids.  They are so cute, they are so honest and just have to see what you are doing.  Soon I was surrounded by kids with parents and teachers that could not control them.  Then came the next busload of kids, then came the next...

By the third wave, I just couldn't concentrate.  Kids were blocking my view, running, tripping and falling at my feet....Moms were "shhhh-ing" to no avail.  So I stopped after 1-1/2 hour.  I had a good base to the painting and only spent 20 minutes at home today with my photographic reference to polish it up.

My friend and I met at the car and I heard her story and saw her unfinished painting.  Even so, we had a wonderful time and were glad to witness and try to capture this special event!  Even with the distractions, it was well worth it!


ti-igra said...

Hi, Carolyn! Thank you for the great article about salmon!!! So interest to know! :) I saw news about this plein air on your blog earlier - wow - how you did this picture - it is a real motion there!

Pastel is awesome! I see all as in reality! Without many details... I love it, the water, scene, fish! All!

Please, be carefull with bears! They are very dangerouse - strong and fast! I heard from my friends who were in Russia forest.

F. Emmanuel Laverde said...

Beautiful composition an color palette.

Carolyn Jean Thompson said...

Thank you Ira and Emmanuel!