'Road to Zion' - final painting

24x24     oil on canvas

I decided on a major change... now there is a larger juniper tree in the foreground and more bushes on the slopes. I needed to break-up the orange shape on the right.. it was too much and was competing with the main focus.. the towering citadel of stone. I also needed to balance the dark masses ..more of an entrance feeling. So don't be afraid to go for it.


Roads End

Finished!.. [well except for a couple more strokes of paint]. On to the next project.. I'm thinking skies. The early spring skies have been amazing here in southern Nevada.. and I feel I want to do something more abstract and not as detailed. I need a break!


'Road to Zion' - almost finished!

About 7/8 done.. getting closer. These large paintings are fun but can take a long time to complete.. probably a couple more days [weeks] in the studio. You can compare this version to the earlier underpainting post and see how it has evolved. Colors used are a fairly limited palette... naples yellow, cad orange, two earths [light red and terra rosa], two blues [prussian and ultramarine].. and a violet. 24x24 oil on gallery-wrapped canvas. Onwards.


'Road to Zion' - halfway there

Slow going on this piece... getting the values and lighting right is a challenge. There is something about this that I am not happy with.. haven't been able to put my finger on it yet.. but I will. The halfway mark is usually the most difficult part of the painting. Each piece 'wants' to come to fruition and needs me to concentrate and be open.. it's a synergistic process.

The next post will be the finished piece [maybe].. and I expect it will be quite different than this image [like what happened to the "Queen of Spades Range']. So back to the easel!


'Road to Zion' - first color

Last night I quickly did the color underpainting for this piece.. prussian blue, cadmium red light, and an earthy light red. I was able to do this so fast because the drawing I did earlier was easy to follow [one reason why drawing is important]. Of course there are always areas of a composition that are problematic.. but eventually they will be designed to belong. The concept has to do with the awe one feels when driving into Zion Canyon.. intimate yet grand.


'Road to Zion' - beginnings

The concept for this piece is based on a b&w photo I took while working in Zion Canyon last summer.   From that.. I drew with a brush and some muddy oil paint I had on my palette diluted with lots of thinner... just a rough sketch on the canvas.  This is only a guide.. the painting will evolve as it will when I add colors. Stay tuned!


'Queen of Spades Range' - Death Valley border

I am calling this finished! Of course there are always tweaks to be done... but I am on to the next project.. a large painting of the road into Zion Canyon. The concept of this piece came from the painting's title. *There really isn't a range named the 'Queen of Spades'* .. it is named for the strong paisley patterns that are found on the alluvial slopes of deep desert mountains. So here it is.. 24 x 24 oil on canvas.

*Update a couple years later:  I am re-working this painting yet again!  I guess I just needed some time away from it .. I was never happy with the composition .. the balance was lopsided.. really liked the concept tho.. so back to the drawing board it goes :)


Painting - the Final Quarter

Getting towards the finish on this piece.. paint is too wet for the final layer.  I changed the design yet again and added more color... the warm reflected light from the sky on the alluvial fan below.  Still have to figure out the foreground and the cast shadow area.  The next post on this painting will be when it is completely finished [never!] Hopefully soon...


More 'Queen of Spades' progress

If you have looked at the previous posts you will have seen my progress.. still have a ways to go. Naturally I had to change colors several times and am contemplating making the foreground all in shadow... not sure I want that much dark.. maybe.  Anyway here is the day's work:


'Queen of Spades' - process

Here is where I am in this painting... still working my way through the color harmony... design is very close to where I want it... minor tweaks to be done.  But the colors and values are not where I want them yet.  Back to the easel!


'Queen of Spades Range' - halfway [maybe]

Today's work left me at about the halfway mark.. spent time adjusting the design and also decided to show some shadow from the mountain ... that put the dry lake in darkness.. I didn't think viewers would understand the lighting if only the mountains were in shadow.  Added a few more colors... cadmium red light, permanent madder, and cobalt blue.. hard to use just a few!


'Queen of Spades Range' - painting to music

Here is today's effort... the first layer of paint over the blue underpainting.  The medium I am using is an exotic smelling mixture.. spike lavender oil, dammar varnish, stand oil, and real turpentine... pungent and intoxicating.. wonderful!  So far the colors used are gold ochre, terra rosa, prussian blue and ultramarine deep.  The values need major adjusting and you can see the design has already changed.. and will again as it evolves.. a somewhat complex patterned piece.

I painted while listening to the great Beethoven's third... music while working is inspiring... puts bounce in the brush.  This piece is like a giant puzzle... all the colors and shapes have to work together... a symphony in paint.


Underpainting Blues

Back in the studio! The above image is the original concept pencil sketch for this painting from my sketchbook.. and below is the underpainting done with one of my favorite colors.. prussian blue. I find it much better than the popular thalo.. it has subtle qualities especially when mixed. This piece will be painted using a limited palette.. more on that later... but the focus is on design.. the paisley patterns of a desert alluvial fan ending in a luminous dry lake bed. The light is late afternoon with most of the mountains in shadow... hence the blue blue underpainting.

This is on a 24x24 gallery-wrapped canvas that will require very little framing if any...  maintaining a contemporary abstract feel. The values here are not what they will be with color... the shapes are what I needed as a guideline for my paint strokes and are not set in stone. We will see where this goes...