Saturday, June 11, 2011

Delicate Arch

It's finished! I would have completed much earlier this week but I started a new job and that cut into my painting time significantly. I worried that the long breaks between painting sessions would cause problems because momentum really affects my painting. For instance, in the middle of this piece I read a book about landscape painting and I was dying to implement the things I learned but it wouldn't have fit with the rest of the painting. The first half or so of it went perfectly, without even the normal "I hate it" stage, but then I had to remix all of my colors and try to rediscover my rhythm for the last part. Thankfully, after only a brief struggle trying to pick up where I had left off, I decided to 'start over' instead. So I abandoned the wood palette covered in drying puddles of color and got a fresh glass palette (my preferred surface) to mix fresh colors. This way I could forget about trying to match my previous colors and focus instead on mixing the colors I needed. It may sound like a small distinction but it made a difference for me. Then things started working out again and I had a great time finishing it.

I learned so much from this piece its hard to even put it into words. Painting is interesting in that each piece can teach you so much along the way, yet at the end you can't even articulate what you've learned. One thing I read right before I started this piece, and subsequently tried to incorporate into my painting, was the fact that cool colors in shadow recede and warm colors in shadows advance. I also learned a lot about light, atmosphere and texture. Again I learned just as much from what didn't work as the things that did.

I started by sketching the scene using a grid. Then I toned the canvas a warm orange-red.

I began blocking in color

The real challenge was portraying distance. From the mountains in the distance to the arch and foreground and the three or four layers in between.

The smooth rock in the foreground was very hard to get right, and eventually I laid down the brushes and used my fingers to blend the paint.

The arch was one of the last things I painted and it started rough but once I remixed my colors and came back to it things went great.

Finally I finished things up and signed it. I'm very happy with how this one turned out.

'Delicate Arch'
Oil on Gallery Wrapped Canvas

Although it has been signed, I'm leaving it up on my easel to look at and evaluate for a while so I might make a few changes.

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