Saturday, March 14, 2015

Embarking on a Big Painting

For me, a big painting is anything over 12x16.  This week, I'm starting one that is 36x36.  Just getting the canvas toned and up on the easel is a project!  I had to use the largest brush I have to tone it.  Then, because I needed the workbench for another task, I had to move the canvas to the carport to get it out of the way.  Finally, when I brought it back in, I had to raise the mast on my H-frame easel to hold it.  I'm a tall painter, so the mast is just tickling the ceiling.

This painting will be created from plein air sketches, photo references and pencil sketches.  Earlier in the year, I hiked out to a waterfall location on Oak Creek that has always fascinated me and took a series of photos and made some pencil sketches.  Here are the sketches:

I had meant to go back the next day and make some color sketches, too, but time got away.  Then we had heavy rain and a significant flood that made the location inaccessible.  Now that the water has receded, I decided yesterday to see if I could hike out there.  The flood had pushed around and piled up a great deal of debris—the usual logs and branches, but also a good deal of charred wood.  Much of the debris had come from up-canyon, north of Sedona, from areas that had been devasted by last summer's Slide Fire.  Because I knew I'd be doing some scrambling, I decided to travel lightly.

I packed up my 6x8 Guerrilla Painter ThumBox with a prepped palette, one brush, two 6x8 panels and a little container of Gamsol.  I also took a bottle of water and my portable stool.  Normally, I don't like working in my lap, but I didn't want to drag a tripod through the debris.  The stool was lighter and less bulky.

I was pleased to find that the hike wasn't as tough as I'd expected, and although the terrain had changed somewhat, my view of my waterfall was still there.  In fact, I think my chosen perch was a little more open than before, and now there was a mound of sand to set up on.

I did two 6x8 studies in an hour:

Top of the Falls, 6x8 oil
(You'll note the waterfall has diminished since I made my pencil sketch)

Below the Falls, 6x8 oil

In addition to these references, I have one more, created last year.  It's a 9x12 painting of the water.  In some ways, I prefer this water view to what I sketched yesterday—it's a little further downstream—and I may use it instead.  Once I make some progress on this painting, I'll post more photos.

Spring Shallows, 9x12 oil

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