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Monday, September 3, 2012

Travel Sketching

badlands by windwordwriter
badlands, a photo by windwordwriter on Flickr.

I recently hiked and sketched in the Badlands near Dubois, WY. All of the wondrous towers, hoo doos, and sculpted formations were inspiring to capture on paper but far beyond my ability to do so. The vastness of the land, combined with the rich colors, shapes, and textures of sedimentary rock is almost overwhelming on a visual scale, so I eventually settled on a small formation to sketch, where I could sit in the shade of a cottonwood tree, out of the scorching heat of the day. Pen and ink allowed me to get the details of the structure quicker, and then a light watercolor wash implied the many eons of layered rock. The name "Badlands" was originally given to the semiarid area in South Dakota near the Black Hills, and called "les mauvaises terres a traverser" by the French because it was so difficult to cross. The true artists here are wind, rain, and flash floods--the medium is erosion. My sketch in the journal is a meager attempt at capturing its true beauty and mystery, but when I look at it and the entire aroma of the day there comes pouring in.


  1. Perfectly captured, Maria! Thank you for distilling your experience for us.

  2. I am going there soon. I will take your advice and choose small sections to draw in my art journal; and try not to be overwhelmed by the immense expanse we have enjoyed before. I am impressed by your capture!

  3. A real beauty of a page, Maria! Your words and image so capture the day!

  4. Thanks, all, for your comments. Lynn, it would be fun to see your sketches after your visit--I walked and looked quite awhile before settling on what I wanted to tackle. Take plenty of water to drink!

  5. You are a great artist. This brought back memories of a trip through there long ago. Thanks for sharing.

  6. So intriguing! Love the feel your page imparts to those of us who have not been there. Just a glimpse of the beauty that awaits.


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