Number 42 in the series is such a wash, one of the countless and un-named that carry water from mountains and mesas to the south along our drive. I was drawn to this image for both the curve and somewhat ambiguous path of the wash and its bright sandy bed and the small outcropping of crumbling sandstone that is directing the path. It has contrasts in color, line, texture and shape that appealed to me on many levels.
oil on canvas
After tinkering with it a bit over 2 days, I'm finally satisfied with the result. As I approach the reference photos for painting sources, I do often make small adjustments: eliminating distracting elements or shifting of others to a more harmonious position. I also try to be mindful of things like intervals, such as the shrub locations, shapes and colors. I don't obsess about the "rule of thirds" or making sure there is a specific focal point, but rather an "area of interest", and making sure there is nothing that leads the viewer out of the painting. In this case, the large shrub acts as both a point of interest and blocks the path out of the painting.
I've seen artists get overly analytical about their paintings in terms of these principles, and the paintings sometimes look contrived and formulaic. So, while it's important to understand the rules and why they exist, I admit that I often go with my gut reaction as to what to paint - images that trigger my emotions on some level and take me back to the moment I was there and the feelings the view inspired. That is what I hope to share with viewers in some way.
And, here are two sunrise photos from yesterday morning: