Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Creating Mystery

"Cathedral Rock Squall" 5x7, pastel - contact Michael

We've had a run of unsettled weather this week, but the clouds and snow squalls make the mountains seem ever more mysterious and inviting. What would it be like to climb up into those fog-wreathed spires? Bringing this feeling to your work and investing it with more than just well-observed color and value can be a real trick. Avoiding excessive detail helps.

I have an on-going fascination with Cathedral Rock, and often I'm trying to capture that sense of mystery. (If you look back through the blog, you'll see many instances of this landmark.) For this little pastel sketch, I avoided detail with mystery in mind. I blocked in the main shapes and then analyzed each area, comparing one shape to another and making corrections. I compared and corrected value, temperature, hue and intensity without intentionally creating detail. For example, the rocks themselves began as a mid-value red-violet. That's not the actual color of these rocks, of course, but I wanted to start with the right value and the right color temperature. Once I laid in my initial wash - you can see bits of the red-violet still poking through - I needed to lower the intensity and warm up the color somewhat. I scumbled over first a dull brown to warm it and then a cool green to lower the intensity. Finally, I added touches of a dark blue, which helped imply a bit of texture in the rocks.

1 comment:

Donna T said...

You sure succeeded with the feeling of mystery in this one, Michael. Thanks for describing your process. I am trying to learn to be less literal and put a little more mood in my work so I appreciate the help!