Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Giant of the Valley: A Commission

"Giant of the Valley"
12x24 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

I lived among the rolling hills and farms of Vermont's Champlain Valley for many years.  Back in those days, I was a runner, and I enjoyed a variety of scenery in every town I ran through:  Shoreham's apple orchards, Weybridge's dairy farms, Panton's rocky lake shore, the Charlotte ferry landing.  One particular run I liked was up Mount Philo, also in Charlotte, because at the top there is a grand view of Lake Champlain and New York's Adirondack Mountains in the distance.  With my heart and lungs working hard, especially on a humid summer's morning, it was refreshing to sit at the overlook for a few minutes to get a long view of that fruitful valley.

So you can imagine my excitement when, after all those years, I was asked to paint that view.  Well, not that view specifically, as I was asked to paint a picture of the Adirondacks; but I was given latitude to choose my viewpoint, and I chose the view from Mount Philo.  For the painting, I decided to make the centerpiece one of the Adirondack 46 High Peaks:  Giant of the Valley, which is number 12 at 4627 feet.  (Yes, I've hiked to the top.)  It towers over Lake Champlain and the farmlands of the valley.  I decided on a moody day, with dappled sunlight racing across the fields.

This painting was made on 12x24 cradled hardboard; it has a one-inch cradle and is designed to be hung without a frame.  I toned the panel first with Gamblin's Transparent Earth Red, which imparts a nice warm tone to a painting that has mostly cool colors.  You can see the different stages in the painting below.

Studio Setup


Working the sky, mountains and lake

Working the valley

Edge treatment
Finished painting

By the way, this is a second commission of this scene.  I originally painted an 8x24 version of it, which I liked very much, but I wanted to create in a format that would give me a little more opportunity to play with the foreground.  Here is the 8x24 version, which features a red-tailed hawk.

"From a High Place" 8x24 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Cool Place Painting Workshops Starting Soon!

If you're anywhere but in Lubec, Maine, you're probably experiencing record heat this week.  Well, it is pleasant here in Downeast Maine right now.  Maybe you'd like to get away from the heat and come to a cool place for a painting workshop.  My workshops here run July through August, and I still have a few spots left.  I hope you'll think of joining us.  For details, please visit www.PleinAirPaintingMaine.com

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