Getting ready for a nocturne competition at the Escalante Canyons Art Festival in Utah.. should be a fun challenge. This piece is from the northern part of Capitol Reef NP .. known for it dark night skies .. fabulous in the moonlight.
I decided to rework a painting just to see where it could go .. here is the current version of 'Tonto Junipers' .. a view from the plateau into the Grand Canyon. Below is the original unedited version so you can compare and see how much it has changed. I generally try not to rework a painting this much as the original impetus is somehow lost .. but in this case I remembered what I was after ... the Blue.
This piece was inspired by my explorations of the Awapa Plateau .. a vast high-elevation region just outside Capitol Reef in Utah. Large swaths of open rolling meadows are dotted with thick stands of trees clustered together as protection from the formidable winds. Nice and cool up here on hot summer days .. great camping .. one of my favorite places in this great state.
Just finished this piece today.. will wait for it to dry and then varnish. Mid-morning light in early summer.. alfalfa fields are a rich green.. blue on blue in the distance. The iconic Sandy Ranch is a magnificent area within the Capitol Reef National Park region.. the road is steep and winding down to the ranch headquarters. A fun drive :)
* Rainbows are common in this part of the world.. but the ones in this image were made from my crystals when photographing this piece.. thought they were a nice addition.
Below is the painting without the crystal prism highlights :)
Here in Capitol Reef country.. huge spectacular clouds are frequent during the summer monsoon season. They dwarf the massive rock formations below.. rising and floating over the land like an alien armada.. and just when you aren't paying attention.. they disappear.. or they might evolve into a fast-moving deluge. Best to be prepared if you are out and about in this glorious changing landscape.
If you have ever visited Capitol Reef National Park.. you know there are many different reef formations in the region. This painting was inspired by the moonlike landscape found just outside the east side of the Park. Clay and old ancient sand dunes with hardly any plants growing.. afternoon light on the Reef.
Finding the right colors for this piece was a challenge..paints are so limited in their range.. Many of these colors are straight from the tube..no white at all. My inspiration was the intense molten colors of sunset on the rock formations near Torrey.. the beginning of the magic hour.
This was easier to paint than I expected.. never tried an onion as a subject and was worried about creating a papery impression of the skin. Instead of usual sienna paint.. I used gold ochre as the base color.. lemon and cad yellow as the lights.. mixed turquoise from cerulean and lemon.. and multi-colored glazes over a grayed cool shadow. The onion sat under a spotlight on my studio table.. so strong contrast was called for.. that's why I chose blue-green as the complement to the orange-colored subject. Voila! ..the turquoise onion.
This was a great subject to paint...took awhile...and this photo is not quite like the real thing...the paint is much more subtle and modeled. However.. t's a worthy impression and gives you an idea of what I was trying to convey...the glowing quality and the wonderful saturated orange of the stripes.
Winter is a good time for practicing close observation of objects ... painting while the cold winds blow outside..small studies are fun to do in the warmth of the studio. Sometimes these can be a real challenge.. like this one... the red from the light shining through the bottle was beautiful...like stained glass. I may have to try this one again...I have had zero practice painting glass .. on to the next one!
Getting back to the easel..decided to paint a series of still life objects. Since it was early December and the pomegranates were ripening here in the desert..I chose them.
Such a great subject...beautiful rich alizarin crimson with a host of other reds from my boxes of paints. Why use alizarin you might ask? ...because there is simply no replacement..close..but not nearly the same. I say..let this magnificent red speak for itself!
An impression of the late afternoon light... stylized Grand Canyon formations as seen from the Tonto... some of the best views can be found on this vast plateau... halfway down to banks of the mighty Colorado River. Magical times.
This is from a series of studies I did of the last light on a particular Canyon formation..one that millions of tourists see from the South Rim. My focus in these studies was the contrast of complementary colors ... and the drama it affords. The beautiful weathered shapes catching the warm golden rays of the sun amid pools of cool cobalt blue. Great fun to paint!
Desert plants have always fascinated me ... how do they survive and thrive in the harsh climate of the deserts? ...especially in the furnace-like conditions down on the valley floor of Death Valley. This oil study is of one such hardy old survivor...which seemed to glory in it's environment.
A quick study from the Lee's Ferry area...here the Colorado River flows swiftly down from Lake Powell. This is the only spot to launch a boat and enter the Grand Canyon...a thrilling adventure.
There is a great campground nearby...but you wouldn't want to be there in the summer..100˚plus. Fisherman prize this stretch of the river.. and if you stay in one of the quaint lodges nearby..you will be sharing the space with fishermen, avid hikers, intrepid travelers, photographers, and..painters! Go there.
Sunset plein-air from just outside the boundary to Bryce National Park in Utah...a wonderland of colors and shapes. Powell Point is the tallest landform in this area...over 10,000' and home to a healthy magnificent Bristlecone pine forest.
A quick preliminary oil study for a much larger painting which took many months and constant re-painting to finish...after all that...I actually like this small piece better. (There must be a moral somewhere in this :)
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!