This is one of those paintings that I was not really excited about working on as I wasn't overly enthused about its progress. But, I also realize that I need to work-work-work and paint-paint-paint, even if it means a less than 100% inspired session. I've had my share of unfinished paintings or projects that sat, uncompleted, because I wasn't happy with the progression, or grew bored or otherwise lost inspiration to finish them. For much of my life, I've been a perfectionist, and that quality is in many ways a serious detriment to being an artist...or a good artist. Part of my focus and approach to art now is to let go of the idea that everything I do has to be perfect, because that is an unrealistic goal and ultimately sets one up for disappointment and true failure: giving up completely.
As much as none of us like to admit it or acknowledge it, or how hard we try otherwise, not everything we create is always a success. I've read about more than one hugely successful artist who has been painting for years admit that he or she has created some paintings that simply did not work. It's so easy to get discouraged by these paintings that came up short of our expectations, but as with everything else, it's best to maintain a healthy, rational and realistic perspective. So, instead of seeing them as failures, I see them as necessary practice and a learning experience. I do spend a bit of time analyzing things that don't work, and trying to figure out why.
Anyway, here's the painting, finished unless I decide to tweak some of the things I don't like about it at a later date. It's not abysmally bad, but the completed painting is not what I'd hoped for:
9x12 - oil on canvas
Titled "Gorge Beginnings", because it is at this point on the drive that you get to see hints of what awaits: the Colorado River Gorge. These small side canyons are deeply-incised through what is the top layer of rock throughout the entire Grand Canyon - Kaibab limestone. Its erosion pattern almost never forms slopes - only cliffs, with these small side drainages rapidly forming long pour-offs and deep chasms that are impossible to descend without advanced technical canyoneering skills and equipment.
I love these intriguing gateways to the Grand Canyon, the cracks in the rock that start small and rapidly become big, all heading for the same final destination. This is what I wanted to achieve with this painting; I'm not sure if it works. I did simplify the detail of the rocks along the edges, but perhaps they are still too busy.
I was having problems getting values dark enough for the proximal shadows, so I added Asphaltum to the palette. It's warmer than burnt umber, and makes a nice chromatic black when mixed with ultramarine blue. I'll probably keep using it when I need to make some really deep shadows for foreground areas.
One of the issues I have dealt with since switching to these canvas panels is that I do not care for the woven surface texture. It creates an undesirable drag on the brushes, and often the paint doesn't lay down like I want it to. So, I suspect this is part of the problem. If money was no object, and I was regularly selling these paintings, I'd probably go with oil primed linen canvases. I have taken the batch of cotton primed canvases I have and coated them with two additional layers of acrylic gesso using a palette knife, and I think this will help. I purchased a gessoed Masonite panel, and the next painting will be on that. Given the expense of those, I'll make my own in the future if I can find a local source of untempered Masonite.
Back to work!