Natural Boulders-ACEO

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About this Piece

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••• Purchased for Collection •••

What is ACEO?

Natural Boulders is an ACEO collector card which I’ve explained in detail in this post. If need be, have a look there for the details once you’re done here. Basically, they are collector card sized paintings (3.5”x2.5”) with a following of collectors worldwide.

A Jeep Ride for Scenery

I decided to rent a Jeep over in Ouray, Colorado and take it up to Engineer Pass. There’s a dirt road winding it’s way up the mountain for about 20 miles. It’s a fairly good road but slow going due to all the scenery and tendency to stop. You will need a 4-wheel drive but you won’t find yourself needing “low”. It was an 8am to 8pm trip for me by the time I washed and returned the rental. It was on this trip I happened upon these natural boulders.

What Did I See?

Scenery paradise would be a great description! From deserted mining buildings, a waterfall or two, vistas, creeks and meadows, I was overwhelmed. I pulled off the road and took a little hike up one of the rolling meadows because I thought I could see an interesting landscape feature from the road up there.

Mother Nature is Patient

As I got closer, behold! This lonely stack of gorgeous boulders was sitting on the mountainside meadow naturally stacked just as you see them. As we used to say in Little League Baseball, “Good eye Don! Good eye!” The boulders were a great find indeed.

A few scattered rocks and natural boulders were in the vicinity but this was no typical exposed boulder field. I’m inclined to believe they arrived at their current location hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago, tumbling down the mountain in a giant rock slide. Over further thousands of years, millions of tons of land slides and avalanches covered the boulders with dirt trees and flora from above.

What we see today is a beautiful rolling, grassy meadow of immense proportion with a few of those original buried boulders featured on the landscape. The rest remain buried deep in the ancient debris. They may eventually be revealed as well, if not covered even more by another landslide in the future.

The unusual thing about these exposed natural boulders is the stacked arrangement. That was what made me excited to find them and capture the unique nature of the arrangement. Not to mention the lovely variations in color and surface deposits.

The Result

I sat on the ground, pulled out my sketchbook and a pre-cut ACEO watercolor card and painted the gist of this in watercolor (notice the background trees). I took a few reference photos with the phone for finishing back at the studio. Upon turning toward the road and Jeep I was surprised how far up the meadow I had hiked! Maybe 30 minutes up and 20 minutes down, it becomes obvious why the trip made for a 12 hour day with multiple stops like this.

I took a lot of quick phone photos along the way and made a number of sketches like this one:

Sketches roadside stream engineer pass colorado
Roadside Stream, Engineer Pass

The photos and sketches from a day trip like this make great reference material for paintings back at the studio. This one day expedition was well worth the drive and effort and I arrived home happy, motivated and excited when it was all done. I can’t say enough about the positive effects on the mind and body that Nature can provide simply by getting out and communing with Her.

It doesn’t have to be a remote Jeep trip. Your own back yard, even in a big city, will no doubt provide short trips with rewarding scenes and details of Nature intertwined with our human made urban landscapes. Local parks and botanical gardens are replete with scenes, particularly closeup details of plants. Ever do a tree portrait? Parks provide great opportunities for them and they make beautiful paintings! Get out there friend and experience for yourself the therapeutic and cathartic effects of en plein aire painting and sketching!