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View from Mt Hood - Radiating Waves of Blue


In her essay "Why I Write," Joan Didion wrote about ideas and images that “shimmer” in your mind's eye… that stick with you inexplicably so that you find yourself thinking about them over and over at random times like something that keeps bubbling up to the surface.


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The view from Mt Hood is it for me (or at least one of them…). The view from the Timberline Lodge parking lot… from the picket sign connecting the Timberline Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail... from Paradise Park in the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness…The ridges and hills that stretch south from Mt Hood to Mt Jefferson in a shock of electric blue waves are intoxicating. The Cascade mountain range


They call it “atmospheric perspective,” the way the hills fade into softer shades of blue as they recede into the horizon. But as I see it, it's not just this phenomenon depicted in a painting.. It feels like more than that. The blues are electric. They’re dark. They’re deep. They're luminous.. Impossibly vibrant. They radiate out as far as the eye can see like the blue expanse of the ocean. The elegant form of Mt Jefferson perches on top, so distant it seems like an abstract idea.


I’m sure I’ve seen this view plenty of times before, but for some reason when I hiked out to Paradise Park a couple of summers ago it really struck me. Even now, two years later, I’m still moved to create an expression of this vision and I just keep going with it. Gouache… colored pencil… oil paint. Whatever medium I can use to try and capture it.


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A couple weeks after that first hike to Paradise Park, I went back and hiked out as far as I could into the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness with my cumbersome sack of oil painting gear. I’d done oil painting “en plein air” before, but this was the first time I really hiked out somewhere to do it. I’m still working on streamlining my equipment to make it easier, which meant that it was quite a slog at the time. But so worth it. Like Emily Carr (possibly my favorite artist) said, 


When you paint a landscape, your feelings are not on the canvas. They are one with the earth.”

- Emily Carr


And it's true. Painting outdoors is challenging. Working quickly with changing conditions, trying to accurately mix the colors you see in front of you… One of the hardest parts for me is trying to fit such a vast expansive landscape onto a canvas. I always want to depict the entire scene but can’t even begin to capture the magnitude of the view before me. But whenever I look at paintings that I started in the field, they seem to have a greater breath of life in them than ones I start in my studio. 

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Emily is right. Spending time intensely focused on the details and overall movement of a landscape, then translating those observations into a painting, makes me feel deeply connected to view before me. There's something about that  process of drinking in your surroundings through your senses, processing them internally, then channeling that vision into a physical form. But because its beauty is so expansive and intangible, I have to keep coming back for more. Another try. Another medium. I don’t think it has anything to do with “trying to get it right,” it's just that image of radiating blue waves that moves me every time I think of it. Maybe it's just a process of trying to articulate what it is that moves me, but I have yet to find out. More to come. 


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Try this Hike!

Timberline Lodge to Paradise Park

(I love using Oregon Hikers as a detailed reference)

Distance: 12.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 2300 feet

Trail Type: In & Out, you can pack in a tent and spend the night! (Or continue all the way around the mountain... that's on my to-do list)

Trailhead & Parking: Timberline Lodge lower parking lot (Free) Directions HERE

Season: Summer & Early fall (I went in mid & late July)


Just a few of my musings...





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2 Comments


Luis Tirado
Luis Tirado
May 05

Nice Babe! love you!❤️

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Replying to

Gracias mi amor 💗

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