No Limits, a Wilson Peak Painting Commission

"No Limits", Wilson Peak painting, mixed media on canvas, 5' x 3', ©Kellie Day
"No Limits", Wilson Peak painting, mixed media on canvas, 5' x 3', ©Kellie Day

“No Limits”, Wilson Peak painting commission, mixed media on canvas, 5′ x 3′, ©Kellie Day

This painting started with a phone call from a man who loves these mountains where we live. He was starting new with some home redecorating out east, and wanted a piece that reminded him of southwest Colorado.

I ordered a five-foot canvas and when it arrived, did several sketches and mapped out a loose painting of where everything should go.

I then had to put down my paint brush for our spring break to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona. My son had never been to the Grand Canyon, and being that I’ve spent a ton of time exploring down there, I wanted to take him.

"No Limits" commission in progress, ©Kellie Day

“No Limits” in its first rough layer, ©Kellie Day

Going to a national park as a kid, in the back of our Dodge Aspen station wagon is one of my best memories.

Being that I lived in many industrial towns growing up, which were not big on scenery, these childhood trips were the reason I ended up living out west. In these expansive lands, lands of possibility, where anything can happen.

In the Midwest, you go to college, you get a job, you raise a family, and you take your two weeks vacation. That was the life I was looking at out of college, as I took my first graphic design job in a fiberglass manufacturing company in downtown Joliet, Illinois.

What I’m saying is, that national parks are awesome, they are memory makers, and getting there is definitely half the fun.

On the way down we stopped to see the dinosaur tracks on the Navajo Reservation. We bought jewelry at the roadside stands, and heard long stories from the people, especially an elder Navajo woman who knew very little English. These were the opportunities I wanted to provide for my son – an education about people and places. I still remember exactly where I bought my necklace on the reservation at age 12, in a roadside stand outside Tuba City.

Hiking and biking in Sedona, Arizona

Hiking and biking in Sedona, Arizona

After crossing the red dirt country of northern Arizona, we returned to the snowy 14,000’ mountains we call home, the San Juan mountains of southwest Colorado.

After a day of driving through piercingly blue sky, and listening to Harry Potter on CD, we began a snowy ascent into our white world.

We drove past Wilson Peak, and around Telluride, where I returned to this Wilson Peak painting commission. My largest commission ever, this 5 foot painting was intimidating. But painting is problem solving. That’s all. It’s about trust and pure letting go, and then pulling it all together with your heart.

You have to trust that the paint you’re splatting on the canvas is going to make sense some day. If you don’t let go, you end up with a tight and calculated painting. And that is nothing about what a mountain is.

A mountain is wild and powerful. It has balls the size of boulders, it has no fear and no concern for others. It is high above the world and can see everything. And the painting has to be all that.

I collaged into its hills naked women, Sufi poetry, patterns, water-color, rice paper, vintage newspapers, and more. And then the hardest part – painting over all that and really trusting.

There is big vision, and there is small vision. Both can be very useful. Both have their place. Laying down long layers of paint across a mountain massif is no place for small vision. You have to keep your eyes out of the details, and on the overall feel of the piece. The painting is all about how that mountain feels. And how you feel, when you look at that mountain.

Only in the rocky ridges up high did I add a few details with the small vision in the end. As usual, it was all the unplanned play that made this piece work out.

"No Limits" commission in progress, ©Kellie Day

“No Limits” in its collage layer, ©Kellie Day

If you’d like to hire me for a commission, please contact me here.

5 Comments

  1. Erika says:

    Stunning!

  2. Kellie, you continue to inspire me. I still haven’t the courage to paint my beloved Mt. Baker at 30″ x 30″, but seeing this gorgeous commission you did might do the trick. Blessings. Your fan, Rae Ellen Lee.

    • Kellie Day says:

      Awww, I appreciate your support so much! I’m sure you will paint the mountain when you are in the mood! I hope you are having fun with your art…. Thanks Rae Ellen! Kellie

  3. JoAnne Salette says:

    Kellie,

    Your talent is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Wilson Peak is indeed a wonderful one to summit but to paint it like you do………………..maybe a “Wilson Peak painting class”……with all your enthusiasm. You should be excitedly proud about this commission. Thanks for sharing! JoAnne

    • Kellie Day says:

      Thanks so much, JoAnne! Landscapes are such a challenge, but I love what I learn from each piece. So glad you like it!

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