I've had a chance now to revisit the two large pastels I did in the field the other week. I'm very satisfied with the 9x24 panorama of Lee Mountain and the Rabbit's Ears. Here is the finished version:
On my second trip, which immediately followed the first day, I spent three hours refining my first day's work. As you may recall, that first day I was able to capture the light and shadow patterns and basic color temperature relationships. In the second outdoor session, I refined shapes. Refining shapes also meant breaking up bigger shapes into smaller ones and thus creating an illusion of more detail. Like most outdoor painters, I then spent some time in the studio - two hours - adding finishing touches. One major change I made in the studio was to the foreground hill. It was simply too warm and jumped out of the picture plane. To integrate it more fully into the painting, I severely cooled down the colors, both in the shadow and lighted areas. I think this painting works just fine.
The second painting, the one of the canyon beneath the view of Munds Mountain, I'm not so satisfied with. I followed pretty much the same process as with the Lee Mountain painting - light/shadow and temperature relationships the first day, and refining shapes the second day. Once in the studio, though, I realized I had an obvious composition problem, which a large mirror helped reveal to me. I wiped out the area and repainted it. I also felt the temperature difference between near and far could be pushed a bit, so I adjusted it. I played up the reflected light in the shadows, lessened the contrast in the mountains and cooled them down a bit.
Yet, I intuitively feel something is still "off" in the painting. I've tried to reason it out using the five basic questions:
- Is it a composition problem?
- If not, is it a value problem?
- If not that, is it a problem with color?
- Well, then, is it a problem with aerial perspective?
- What about the mark-making, then?
I'm still thinking on this one. To me, it seems like there's too much going on and the painting still seems a bit flat, with not enough depth in it.
I'd love to hear your opinions! Here it is, 24x18: