Sunday, July 26, 2020

More News from the Canyon

Canyon Abstract III
16x20 Oil

The good news is, the much-anticipated monsoon season has arrived in New Mexico.  After virtually no precipitation since mid-April, we are blessed with afternoon rains now in late July.  The one cottonwood tree by the house, which has been losing more than just a few leaves, is grateful.  So also are the sunflowers, which are now starting to burst into bloom. 

The bad news is, the rains, which can be quite heavy at times, make mud.  My trail down into the canyon has gotten a little slippery.  Also, I like to sketch my rocks and trees with good, strong sunlight beaming down on them.  The light and shadow patterns make the form of these subjects easier to define.  The clouds are softening the light too much.  So, I am taking a little break from canyon sketching.

In the meantime, though, I have turned to the studio for painting.  My inspiration are the sketches I made in my Pandemic Sketchbooks, Vol. 1, which are all about rocks and canyon walls.  I have chosen another part of the canyon for this third Canyon Abstract.  Below, I'll show you the three reference studies I used, plus the steps in painting the 16x20 version.

One secret ingredient for painting canyon walls:  Gamblin's Warm White.  I used this exclusively in the painting.  Yellow ochre, which is the base color for the walls, cools off just too much if I use my regular titanium-zinc white.  Also, to punch up the color a bit, I included a little Permanent Orange and Napthol Scarlet.  To add life to the warm, dark shadows—mostly painted with Raw Umber—I used Prussian Blue to indicate where the blue skylight spills down into the shadows, creating temperature contrast.

Finally, I've put together the progress shots into a short Youtube video.  If you can't see it in this post, here is the link:


5x8 gouache studies I used as references:

Progress shots of the 16x20 studio painting:

And the finished painting again:

Canyon Abstract III - 16x20 Oil


artistinthewild said...

Very nice, especially when seen in person!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thank you! I always tell people the paintings look better in person!