Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Discovering New Views

"Chavez Ranch"
9x12, oil

One thing I really love about Sedona is the many ways of getting into the National Forest. Much of the community abuts the Coconino National Forest in some way, and trails, both official and "social," create a broad network of painting opportunities. Although I've participated in four Sedona Plein Air Festivals and lived here last winter, I'm still adding spots to my list of secret locations.

This winter, I've discovered a hill behind the house that has a whole winter's worth of scenic views. I've been hiking it every chance I get to see what's best - and I do it with a camera. Rather than grabbing the gear and painting right away, I use the camera to explore possibilities. I take photos with the goal of not taking pretty pictures but of finding compositions. This is a very useful way of making initial explorations. Also, I also spend a significant time in not using the camera, but just looking at the scene, imagining how I might paint it. Would I move that hill slightly to the left? Would I make the light hitting that edge of that shadowed cliff brighter? And what about all those ranch buildings? How many would I include, and would I filter out the modern ones and keep the more rustic ones?

The painting is a result of this process. We had a break in the overcast, and the sun came out just long enough for me to capture the light.


Donald Smith said...


I really like this latest painting! I like the nice bright blue sky, the reddish rocks and dirt in the foreground, and the grayish greens that help the red earth to pop out. Very nicely painted!

Marsha Hamby Savage said...

Michael, this is beautiful. I enjoyed the comments about searching out potential paintings and how you go about it. The camera is really useful in this manner. Also, looking for things you might change slightly -- I enjoy doing a light sketch to consider the scene and any alterations a good one.

Enjoy your posts, always!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Donald and Marsha!