Thursday, October 19, 2017

Aspen Trees - Mixed Media Art Project

Who doesn't love Rocky Mountain golden aspen trees!  This project can be done anywhere from 1st - 5th grade and is super easy to follow along with.  Some of the art concepts covered include: overlapping, shadows/light source, splattering technique, and positive/negative space.

Step 1:

Draw vertical lines with a pencil to create the first tree. Add diagonal lines behind the first tree to add two more.  Add another in the corner.  Then add lines coming from the tree trunks for branches.

Step 2:

Now, paint in the negative space with a black water based paint.

Step 3:

Next, splatter wet, black paint all over the picture to give the aspens their spotty texture.  

Step 4: 

Then, outline the edges of the trees over the original pencil lines with oil pastel (or something dark) to make them stand out.

Step 5:

Finger paint using a thick acrylic yellow/orange paint to add leaves between the tree branches.

All done!

Here are a few student examples from 2nd grade: 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Black Canyon of the Gunnison - October, 2017

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of Colorado's four National Parks.  The height, or rather depth, of the canyon walls is dramatic.  The Painted Wall goes down about 2000 ft.  The whole park is just one road that has lots of stops at trails and overlooks.  I would compare the road and the beauty to the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction.

We arrived in the late afternoon and did a few hikes to the overlooks with the kids.  It was a little nerve racking with a 4 year old wanting to climb on the rails with steep drops underneath.  Our last stop was the Painted Wall overlook.  After the sun set behind the hills, the clouds lit up with color making for some nice photographs:

Painted Wall sunburst

Painted Wall in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison sunset photography
Black Canyon Sunset - Prints Available

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall Color Trip - 2017

Fall Colors in the Cimarron Mountains near Gunnison, Colorado

The start of October begins the end of the fall season in the high country of Colorado.  I wish this colorful time lasted longer than a couple weeks.  I suppose the short and sweet window of photographic opportunities is what makes it so exciting.  This year, we took a family trip to the San Juans and chose photography locations that would be easily accessible so we could take the kids along for the ride.  We stayed 2 nights at a hotel near Ridgway and 1 night camping in the Uncompahgre National Forest.  The colors overall were a bit dull compared to our visit to this area 3 years ago, but there were still many pockets of bright gold.

This is a big photo dump from the trip.  It's divided into 2 major areas:


Crystal Lake Million Dollar Highway Ouray Colorado fall Autumn
Crystal Lake near Ouray

Mt. Sneffels Sunrise
Mt. Sneffels

Dallas Divide

Last Dollar Road

Ralph Lauren's Ranch

The Cimarron Mountains

Owl Creek Pass

Fall Colors and Precipice Peak in the Cimarron Mountains of the Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado
Precipice Peak

Fall Colors in the Cimarron Mountains of Southwestern Colorado with Precipice Peak

All of these images are for sale as photography prints at

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ptarmigan Trail - Sept. 2017

Fall Colors on Lake Dillon and Silverthorne Colorado photography by Aaron Spong

Took a one morning (one night) trip to do a sunrise hike/shoot over Silverthorne for the early season colors.  Still lots of green, but lots of yellow and orange too.  Getting geared up for our big "Fall Colors" trip next week!

Sun dancing on Peak 1 from Silverthorne, Colorado lake dillon in the Fall
Sun dancing on Peak 1

Fall Colors on Guyselman Peak Gore Range, Colorado
Guyselman Peak

Friday, August 18, 2017

Blue Lakes Basin - August, 2017

Lower Blue Lake and Mt. Sneffels one of the Colorado 14ers

Tim, James and I spent a couple nights in Blue Lakes Basin a couple weeks ago.  Can't think of a better place than the San Juans to spend for the last weekend of the summer!  The Sneffels Wilderness is one of the most beautiful and lush places in Colorado.  It's growing in popularity, but still a good distance from Denver so the crowds are kept down a bit in comparison.  It was very close to (maybe just past) prime time for the wildflowers.

The weather was rainy for most of the trip.  There were periods where the sky cleared, making for some awesome photo ops.  The first morning I hiked up to the middle blue lake for sunrise, which was covered with clouds.  No color to be had, but beautiful none the less.

"S4" and Middle Blue Lake

I waited here until Tim met me on the trail.  A short period of rain came and went, so we decided to head up toward Blue Lakes Pass to see how far we could go.  We had faint hopes of summiting Gilpin Peak, but soon realized the weather would foil the plan.  There were a few parties who were able to summit Sneffels that day, but we were not as motivated as they were.


We reached the pass as the clouds danced around us, lifting at times to see into Yankee Boy Basin.  After a picnic of trail mix, we headed back down. 

Gilpin Peak (left) from near the pass

Mt. Sneffels - southwest ridge route from Blue Lakes Pass

Yankee Boy Basin from Blue Lakes Pass

Upper Blue Lake

Upper Blue Lake looking up at Black Tops

Once back at the lower Blue Lake where we were camped, the sun finally came out:

Lower Blue Lake in the Blue Lakes Basin near Mt. Sneffels Wilderness, Colorado
Lower Blue Lake - Prints Available

Wildflowers where abundant

In the afternoon, I hiked up the hill to the east of the lake to see if I could get a shot of Sneffels with Blue Lake in the same frame.  As I was hiking up, a cantaloupe sized rock came flying down the hill from somewhere on the high peaks above.  It whizzed past me right through where I was standing only seconds ago.  That will get the heart pumping.  I didn't have a helmet or even think I'd need one. I had no idea I was anywhere near a rockfall area.  A good lesson to always bring the helmet if the terrain is steep, even below treeline.

Colorado 14er Mt. Sneffels near Ridgway, Colorado
Mt. Sneffels and Blue Lake - Prints Available

I woke again the next morning before dawn and hiked up to the same location at the middle Blue Lake.  I found a thick field of wildflowers the previous morning.  I hoped the sky would be clear enough to let some light through to the peak.  This was the shot I'd planned the whole trip around.  It was a glorious sunrise.  These sights are what make all the effort and discomfort worth it.  I praised the Lord as I sat witnessing His masterpiece.  Pictures are pretty, but never the same as the real thing.

sunrsie with columbines on the middle Blue Lake near Mt. Sneffels wilderness, Colorado
Sunrise at Blue Lakes - Prints available