Painting In Drumheller

For the 2 last days of November I took a little painting trip.  On these occasional trips I’ve usually gone to the mountains but to be honest, the charm of the mountains is more and more eluding me so I headed the other way.  I thought of Drumheller because the Badlands are in some ways about as far as you can get from the mountains.

I love these painting trips because my focus is completely on painting from the time I wake up until I go to bed.  It’s a special state of mind that I get into.

I stopped just outside Drumheller at  Horseshoe Canyon which is a very special landscape completely hidden from the nearby highway.  This great hole just opens up as you walk up to the edge.  There are walking paths through it but this time I just stayed at the top because I was carrying all my painting equipment.

Here are some views of the canyon and the badlands.

Rex Beanland, Horseshoe Canyon

Horseshoe Canyon

Rex Beanland, Badlands


Rex Beanland, Horseshoe Canyon 2

Horseshoe Canyon












It was a lovely sunny day.  It appeared quite warm from inside the car but when I set up to paint my hands were freezing within 5 minutes and my water froze fairly quickly.  I  did start a painting before I   realized that the water was going to freeze. The wash on the paper also froze soon after applying it and when I warmed the painting up in the car it all ran and made a total mess.  However, I  got enough information to imprint what I wanted to do with this subject.




I did these 2 paintings that night back in my room from using photos.

Rex Beanland, Horseshoe Canyon 2, watercolour, 12 x 16

Horseshoe Canyon 2

Rex Beanland, Horseshoe Canyon 1, watercolour, 9 x12

Horseshoe Canyon 1
























The next day I spent most of the day in Rosebud doing a couple more paintings. Rosebud is a little village that is pretty much completely taken over by the Rosebud School Of The Arts, a school for actors and theatre people.  It was a much colder and overcast day.

Rex Beanland, Rosebud














Here is a plein air painting of one of the houses.  It’s an unusually friendly village and everyone who passed by waved and made me feel very welcome.

Rex Beanland, Rosebud Alley, watercolour 9 x 12

Rosebud Alley













On the way back to Drumheller I stopped and did this painting en plein air.  This is the highway just as it starts it’s descent into Drumheller.

Rex Beanland, Down To Drumheller, watercolour, 12 x 16

Down To Drumheller













As I mentioned I’d never painted the badlands before so I’m very pleased with these works.  What  I found so useful was to use a similar approach to the one I studied at the Ted Nuttall workshop I attended in August.  For a more detailed look at his style check out my blog entry.  His approach utilizes lot of very deliberate and considered marks with a very liberal use of softening of the edges to give a lost and found feel.  It’s very time consuming but the resulting works are we’ll worth it.

Lately I’ve had a major shift in my work process to emphasize this Ted Nuttall inspired process.  I’m really enjoying it and the paintings that I’m producing are certainly fun but it’s a big change from the way I’ve painted for the past few years.  Lots of detailed observation and the careful build up of transparent layers.  For me, however, I can’t stay away from the immediacy of plein air painting for too long.  It keeps me fresh and keeps me thinking on my feet.  So it was a treat to have this couple of days to reconnect directly with the landscape.



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