To Paint Huascaran Or Not Paint Huascaran?
Once upon a time, I lived and worked in Huaraz Peru for a couple years (2004-2008) in total. It’s a special place surrounded by some of the biggest peaks in South America. It in fact boasts the highest mountain peak within the entire tropical zone of the globe. So for a tropical peak topping out at 22,205 feet above sea level and a prominence of 9,108 feet from the valley floor of the Callejón de Huaylas (the alley of Huaylas), it does more than just grab your attention. You can meditate with it. I remember, for the first time in 2004, marveling from a distance on a rooftop in Huaraz, looking toward Huascaran as the sun set and there was an intense display of colors filtering through the atmosphere and clouds to produce a Lord Of The Rings appearance cast upon that peak and the rest of the range. The sound of church bells ringing seemed to announce the holiness of the mountains and not so much the holy trinity.
Years later, in 2017, I had the great opportunity to take my family to Huaraz and the surrounds to enjoy for Peruvian Independence around the 28th of July. We were going to do the typical tour of Laguna Llanganuco, Yungay, and the other stops along the way- winding along the river Santa. But I couldn’t fathom doing a crowded van tour with a 3 year old and my spouse. I really wanted to make it special, so I forked up a little over $100 US and via a connection of mine, I was able to charter a van just for us three! Wow was that a treat.
Since I had more mobility in an almost empty van, I could also take better amateur shots with my cell phone along the way. I took quite a few shots of Huascaran, some from the van and some from on foot at the laguna and in Yungay. The later being the site of the devastating landslide in 1970 that killed over 20,000 people. An insane earthquake had struck the region with so much force that a huge chunk of glacier from Huascaran broke off – causing the landslide. Within minutes, most of the population was overcome by meters of debris.
Huascaran is a mountain that people go to see and climb and you can find thousands of photos online. But you won’t find too many paintings of it probably. Not sure why, but maybe it is just so huge it might seem overwhelming and impossible to paint. What I mean to say is that, the height and depth of field is lost in most amateur photos and paintings. And to really paint such an awesome mountain means that one might be inspired to include the factor of its shear prominence from the valley floor. It is awesome!
I remember back in those first couple years, some people had mentioned that I should paint or draw Huascaran. I shrugged it off as not worth my attention because I was really into stream of consciousness and abstract work. I did complete a fusion style painting of another peak in the Cordillera Blanca called Cayesh for a friend that did inspire me to capture some of the light and dimension which was more simplified and geometric looking. But Huascaran is just a huge geological monolith that seems so irregular and simply massive that you might get lost in trying to identify which part of the mountain ice came sliding down the chute; it has a North and South peak.
These days, I live in Ashland Oregon. I have this great view of a ridge with a peak called Grizzly. I was thinking I should stay local and capture some winter moods of the peak with clouds and sun mixed together in photos which I could use to paint a series of four 16’ x 20’ inch gallery wrapped canvases I’ve had collecting dust since this time last year.
But, I think I changed my mind. But, I’m not sure…….
Should I paint the different angles of Huascaran or the different moods of Grizzly? I’m thinking Huascaran, but maybe you can help me decide.
Thanks for your participation. I can’t wait to get started.