Small paintings from the Inland Northwest and beyond    |  H o m e    |   W e b s i t e

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ochoco Color Study - Original Oregon Landscape Painting

Ochoco Color Study - 6x6 - Oil on Canvas panel - Landscape


I'm having some MAJOR issues with a large painting of this scene, so I'm creating smaller studies to test some of the color/composition ideas I've had.

This scene is somewhere in the Ochoco Mountains of eastern Oregon. On our way home from a trip to the John Day Fossil Beds my husband and I programmed the GPS to take us home, and followed the course it told us to. I've been looking and looking at maps trying to figure out where exactly it took us, because the route made NO sense at all. We didn't realize that, of course, until we were at the summit of the Ochoco range on a US Forest Service road, seeing traces of snow and thinking "Wouldn't 395 have been faster?" But I did catch a glimpse of this great little stream, and here it is!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cool Down - Wetland Oil Painting by Melanie Thompson

Cool Down - 6x6 - Landscape - Oil on Canvas Panel


This was a preliminary color study for a slightly larger painting. I ended up making most of these colors up, the original scene was darker and had more of a mysterious aura to it. I ended up going with that mood with the later painting, but I still like how I made this one look like a sunny, crisp winter day. Here in WA it seems like our winter is just now beginning to lift (thanks, el niƱo), so it seemed appropriate!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Snake River Morning - Idaho landscape painting by Melanie Thompson

Snake River Morning - Oil on Canvas Panel - 6x6


I wish I knew exactly where I took the reference photo for this, I'd love to do a plein air here. This is another one from the Hell's Canyon area, though!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crab Creek in Purple - Original Landscape Oil Painting by Melanie Thompson


OK, those Canadian landscapes got just a bit too sunny and green! Let's cool down a little bit, here's an overcast day along Crab Creek, a beautiful little wildlife area just north of the Tri-Cities. The hills in the distance were a bit tricky, we have pillars of basalt everywhere around here, and it's dark tone can be really hard to capture for me! Crab Creek is where I first tried to paint in plein air, it was a disaster! I tried to paint a sunset, never having painted outside before. Not  only was I inexperienced, but I tried to paint one of the fastest changing subjects around. Lesson learned, for sure!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cowboy Trail III - Canadian Landscape Painting Oil on Panel by Melanie Thompson

Cowboy Trail III - Oil on Panel - 6x6 - Landscape


The final Cowboy Trail painting! I like this one best, I think because I like the way the contours of the hill feel. I'm scouting around now for new views from Google Street View, if you have any favorites let me know!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cowboy Trail II - Canadian Landscape Painting Oil on Panel by Melanie Thompson

Cowboy Trail II - Oil on Cradled Panel - 5x5 - Landscape


Bend in a Canadian road!  Another from my virtual trip over the northern border on the Cowboy Trail. Unlike my other panel paintings this one is 5x5 and is cradled to make it 1.5" deep.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cowboy Trail I - Canadian Landscape Painting Oil by Melanie Thompson

Cowboy Trail I - 6x6 - Oil on Panel - Landscape


I don't like being all cooped up all day, and gas prices limit how often we can take long road trips. My new coping method is taking tours through Google Maps! Here in the states most areas are still at low quality, but most of I-5, Canada, and Alaska are shot in HD, VERY impressive scenery. I can't wait until Google re-shoots Yellowstone or Yosemite in such high quality.

This spot is somewhere along the Cowboy Trail in Canada, I have two more in the works as well. Someday I'd like to visit and paint it in person!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Valley View - Prosser Columbia Basin Fine Art Landscape Plein Air by Melanie Thompson

Valley View - 8x10 - Oil on Canvas - Landscape


Driving home from a road trip, my husband and I decided to take a backroad home. As we looked behind us we realized we HAD to pull over at a rest stop - the hazy light was glittering off the Yakima River and Mount Rainier was faintly visible. In reality there is a city in this valley, but reality should never ruin a good painting.

On another note, want to see something cool? Check out this photo found on

Wilfire season! It always brings on a special kind of ADD when a bunch of my friends are out fighting fires, and I'm stuck inside. =)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wild Horse Butte - Hell's Canyon Landscape Painting by Melanie Thompson

Wild Horse Butte - 6x6 - Oil on Panel - landscape


Yes, another one from the Hell's Canyon area, although this one I translated the dry cheat grass into a thick green spring blanket. Artistic license! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Contours - Washington State Fine Art Dayton Oil Painting Landscape by Melanie Thompson

Contours - 8x10 - Oil on Canvas Panel

This is the completed work I painted at the Dayton Plein Air WA Paint Out last weekend. I wanted to look at it for a while to decide if it was finished, and it only took minimal "tidying up" on some tree clumps to pull the whole thing together. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On The Way Out - Pacific Northwest Hell's Canyon Oil Painting by Melanie Thompson

On the Way Out - 6x6 - Oil on Canvas Panel


This painting is a reinterpretation of a photo I took while leaving the Poe Cabin Fire in Hell's Canyon, Idaho, in 2007. Not only were we rolling out, but a decently sized thunderstorm had hit the area and was on it's way out as well, hence the title.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hillside Patterns - 6x6 - Oil on Panel - Landscape


This little gem of a hillside is somewhere in Idaho, near Hell's Canyon. I've been going through a lot of my old firefighting photos looking for good references, and this view from near our base camp caught my eye!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Somewhere in Canada

Somewhere in Canada


This little painting is the result of one of my favorite internet time killers: exploring Google Maps through Street View. If you've never seen the Crow's Nest Highway (like me) do yourself a favor and check it out in street view. Beautiful! I couldn't remember exactly where this was, but it is somewhere along the Canadian highway system.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sunset on the Columbia - Plein Air Northwest Landscape Painting by Melanie Thompson

Sunset on the Columbia - 6x6 - Oil on Panel


I usually try not to paint sunsets. I don't like pastel colors, I don't like sentimental art, and they change way to damn fast. But while driving home the other night I was captivated by huge billowing clouds behind Rattlesnake Mountain, and decided to break my own rule. It was a great experience, and I'm glad I did, though I think it is still a good general rule. =)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dirty Burn - Wildfire Oil Painting by Melanie Thompson


In wildland firefighting, if a burn is dirty it means that the area isn't completely burned. Why is this important? When a crew is working to contain the fire by digging a line around it, the burned area (or the black) can be a safety zone if the fire goes crazy, since burned fuel can't be re-burned. Hence the often repeated wildland firefighting phrase "Keep one foot in the black." However, if the black isn't completely burned it can't be trusted as a safety zone, because of the possibility of the fire burning through that spot again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To the Mountains - Original Oil Landscape Painting by Melanie Thompson

To the Mountains - 6x6 - Oil on Panel


I'm planning out our summer vacations, and making lists of places I'd like to visit this year. So the mountains are on my mind, and this painting is the result!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rainy Dayton

Rainy Dayton - 6x6 - Oil on Panel


I fell in love with the topography around Dayton, and the overbearing grey clouds provided great atmosphere, despite the wind and rain!

Dayton Paint out with Plein Air Washington

Photo By Melanie Thompson
Grey day outside of Dayton

I had an amazing weekend with Plein Air Washington, painting just outside of Dayton, WA. I met so many amazing painters whose blogs and Daily Paint Works accounts I've long followed. It was a rainy day, no doubt all the artists from the soggy side of the state brought it with them! However, the grey sky made the green landscape pop nicely, and distant hills had a lovely purple cast.

My painting partner for the day, Kathryn Townsend
Kathryn Townsend, seen above, Paula Ensign, and I drove and drove trying to find somewhere out of the wind. No such place seemed to exist, and so Kathryn and I settled for a pull-out looking at a fascinating ridge. Paula drove on, in a quest for a wind-free spot. Later on in the day I was so amazed by their finished paintings, I'm honored to have been able to paint with such talented and hard working artists!

My work in progress

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rain on the Pacific Crest Trail - Original Oil Painting by Melanie Thompson

Rain on the Pacific Crest Trail - 8x10 - Oil on Canvas 

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The idea for this painting came to me while I was looking through photographs I took during a volunteer vacation with the Washington Trails Association. It was an amazing experience, but this newbie hiker from the deserts of the Columbia Basin had never even HEARD of rain pants. I packed what I considered to be a rain jacket, and assumed I'd be good. Then, while hiking in to our base camp I overheard talk of rain pants. This entire concept made no sense, rain pants were obviously frivolous REI junkies bought to sound hardcore.

I learned three things. One: The jacket I packed was NOT water proof. Two: It rains a LOT in the North Cascades, even in summer. Three: Rain pants are kind of important when you cut trail through brush in the rain.

So that was my educational experience, and despite being wet and cold the entire trip, I had so much fun, and learned a lot from my fellow volunteers. Like check the campsite and make sure you don't set up your tent in a potential puddle. Because if it rains for many days straight it will become a puddle. These are important things to learn, and fun memories I wouldn't trade for anything, and I got to re-experience them through this painting!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Open Sky - Landscape Painting by Melanie Thompson

Open Sky - 6x6


Clouds are quite a challenge to paint! I think what I love most about this composition is how the bulk and mass of the cloud can be felt, and to me they almost feel like they are moving.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vantage Point

Vantage Point • 6x6

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This painting is a little glimpse into a cloudy day on the Columbia River. The name Vantage Point comes from the name of a nearby city, Vantage, Washington. In the distance is Sentinal Gap, a huge gap cut into the Saddle Mountains by ancient floods. The only problem with this lovely hike is the raging winds that are channeled down the Columbia Rive Gorge!