Thursday, November 18, 2010

Culmination and Pathway - FC & Colorado Plateau series

Here are the next two in the series.  I'd hoped to get them posted yesterday evening, but didn't finish the work on the first one in time to get a non-flash photo.  It took me a bit longer to complete these, as I moved up to a bigger canvas.

Of all the photos I took during our stay at Timp Pt, I chose this as the sole representative of the Canyon itself.  It's actually taken from North Timp Pt., in the afternoon of our long hike.  Much of the canyon topography is now in shadow, making it a bit less daunting to paint, and allowing the focus to be on the basic shapes as well as a unique feature of this area of the park:  the Esplanade - a cliff-forming layer of sandstone that forms wide slickrock benches as you head west.  In the main part of the park, it forms the top layer of the red sandstone/mudstone rocks known as the Supai Group.  

oil on canvas board

In addition to going with a bigger size for this piece, it is also the first done on an oil/alkyd primed surface.  As soon as I started painting on it, I realized why so many artists favor this surface.  I'm sold.  This actually represents 3 painting sessions over 4 days; I finished the right lower quadrant yesterday, but still may go back and tweak a few things.  

The biggest challenge in this painting was deciding how to render the foreground area with all the busy-ness going on.  I would have left more out had I been painting from life and could see what was behind all those trees and shrubs.  I just paint them as shapes.  To me, there is nothing that screams out "amateur" more than someone who tries to paint individual leaves, grass blades, etc., in their landscape paintings.  

As a DIY kind of person, and someone who is looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality, I primed these myself, using Ace hardware's premium brand of oil-based alkyd primer.  The ingredients are the same, but significantly cheaper.   I used gesso-primed canvases, so they were already sized.  One coat of this alkyd primer was all that was needed - it filled in much of the texture of the canvas and they were ready to use 24 hrs. later.  

Here is the first layer on the next painting, titled "Pathways".  We are now on our return trip, and this view of a side canyon heading to the Marble Canyon gorge is seen in mid-morning light, on the west side of Marble Canyon, and now it's the Echo Cliffs that are in the background.  I need to darken up some values and work on the foreground detail a bit in the next layer; things are looking a bit flat in certain areas.

Pathways - first layer
oil on canvas board


  1. Not only do I admire your beautiful landscapes, I admire your dedication and output! I haven't done anything all month, well I have one wip for chair auction. Anyway, your work is inspiring to me.

  2. Thanks, Liz! After reading countless art books, interviews and bios of artists that I admire, one thing became clear that all had in common: painting every day. Or some type of art every day. I figure the more I paint, the faster I'll become a better artist.

    Are you still working on your weekly sketches? I always look forward to your blog posts, so be inspired and get in your studio! :)

  3. Way to go big! These are a delight, and I almost think better than the previous ones.


  4. Thanks, Casey! I'm glad you suggested going bigger, as I might have kept with the smaller pieces for a lot longer. Different things to take into consideration on these larger pieces, for sure.

    I also agree that they're better than many/most of the earlier ones. Part of that is probably the "ah-ha!" moments with the materials and tools.

  5. Your coloration is so lovely-- wonderful blues and greens! Marvelous sense of atmosphere.

  6. I'm liking this Pathways a lot.
    Gotta love that oil priming too.
    Greetings from India... thanks for your comment. We're actually in fairly nice hotels, that's the irony. We're in 3-stars, and so often in India, things look fancy on the outside and nothing works on the inside. No bugs in the rooms, though, fortunately!

  7. Thanks R, for stopping by and commenting!

    Jala - I'm glad you dropped by, and I'm glad you're able to post from abroad :). I guess the attitude about basic things not working in some of the nicer hotels is nonchalance? That's a shame about the bad food, though...nothing worse than bad food in a country known for its cuisine.

    It's snowing here, as part of a huge Pacific storm. You'll probably get a bit up your way. Stay healthy and safe!

  8. Sonya--this is a beautiful piece! Thanks for your comment on my blog--I'm so taken with the colors, distances and atmosphere of this landscape.

  9. Hi Kathryn,
    Thank you for visiting and commenting. The landscape of the Colorado Plateau/canyon country is truly remarkable, isn't it?

  10. We're mostly still meeting and sharing weekly sketches, but did miss past 2 Sundays.

    Doing art everyday is a good practice, I agree. I'm working on that one - trying to do some little doodle everyday.

    Meeting with Rox at the Grand tonight:-)


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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