Bryce NP 9x12 oil on panel
After extended camping expeditions to Utah and the outback of central Nevada [which was great!]...I returned to work on this piece...this is where it stands now. I has changed quite a bit from the original layout...however.. I am still not satisfied with the design and will likely change it yet again. So..back to the easel to solve this problem.
Off for an extended plein-air painting camping expedition for a month...so this studio piece will have to wait until I return. Here is how it stands as of this morning. Really been hot here in the desert and in the studio...looking forward to the high elevations of Utah!
Here are the first layers of color...mainly ultramarine blue, manganese thalo, cadmium red deep, cadmium red light and a little naples yellow. I will be expanding this limited palette somewhat..but this piece is based on a blue/red concept. You can see the shapes are taking on a life of their own already. Long ways to go....
Started a new painting from one of my photos taken in early fall...the Paria River Canyon area....24x24 oil .. one of my favorite areas...a relatively unknown vast high desert region of the Grand Staircase NM...just on the border between Arizona and Utah. A painter could spend a lifetime in that wonderland. Here are two versions of the structure...the initial layin.. a de-saturated version and the drawing I did on the canvas with my brush...prussian blue over a dried flesh-colored acrylic wash..just to seal the canvas and cut the white glare. I find this the only good use for any 'flesh' named paint...the earth as corporeal. Onwards!
Finally! I am calling this finished...20x30 oil on canvas...cruising in for the night on the magnificent Lake Powell. This started from a photo from one of my houseboat expeditions...but it has changed significantly from that image... to one expressing the beauty of reflected light into this unknown cove and the peace of nightfall...sanctuary.
Still working on this piece...getting there. I am posting all these versions of a painting so you and my students can see how a painting might evolve. Complex works of art demand lots of problem-solving...and answers that serve both the original conception and the painting's evolution towards a conclusion that presents itself as felt. This conclusion is usually not the artist's choice alone...the painting speaks and has it's own life...it seeks full symbolic manifestation. The artist acts as a medium and a partner in this process.
I think there must be 20 pounds of paint on this by now...have been experimenting with colors and shape changes...much easier to do in Photoshop than with wet paint layers. Now to refining from this stage and figuring out how I want to do the water. Water needs to be clean and not fuzzy...so there is work to be done!
This is the kind of painting that one could re-paint many times. Since the basic composition is interesting..I decided to experiment further...more shape changes and increased the chroma ...a strong red orange light is being reflected from an unknown source on the left...plus there is still the last rays of sunset on the top rocks. I will continue to refine this idea until it all comes together. However...since I have been working on this exclusively for so long now...I am looking forward to the next project...so this will be wrapped up soon. More color/ value adjustments on the rocks and then the final glistening effects on the water.
I decided on changing the shapes of the foreground rocks and tweaking the other forms somewhat. Also you can see the first layer of color on the water. I want to make it look like still dark water with a glossy foreground bow wake....coming into 'sanctuary' for the night.
Since the rocks are nearly finished [except for fine touches]...I will be painting the water next. If all goes well it should not take long. I put a thin glaze on the water surface already...and when that dries...I will add more warm glazes and a few floaters on the glassy surface. The time of day and mood indicates a calm surface and a deep dark color with glowing reflections...now I just have to do it:)
Here is where this painting stands today...I decided to emphasize the reflected light coming into the cove from the left...it lightens the formations considerably..but since there is a lot of light in the sky yet...I think this will work. I added a few bushes on the slopes...and adjusted values again [and again]. Rocks are about 90% done...soon on to the water challenge!
I am into the refinement stage on the rocks now...the water reflections won't be painted until the formations are 90% finished. Time to get out my mediums and start mixing with the oils for the final layers. I will be using a high-gloss mixture of spike solvent, varnish, stand oil and turps for the water...and a damar varnish, stand oil, wax/turps mix for the rocks and sky [a much more matte medium]...this will add to the sandstone texture instead of all glossy. I also might pull out the palette knife for a few thick pieces of paint on the foreground rocks. Since there is not a lot of depth in this composition...I will use some texture for contrast.
I thought this painitng was going to be rather easy to do...no such luck. I am still working my way through the rock structures and trying to decide if I need to make it warmer or cooler. Slow going on this...here is the current version as of this evening. I am also in the middle of creating a new website from scratch...so my studio time has been usurped. Gotta be done tho!