Thursday, October 26, 2017

A New Version: Changing Things Up

Now and then, I have the opportunity to make a studio “copy” of a painting I did in the field.  I put “copy” in quotes, because I never try to make an accurate copy.  Instead, I create a brand-new piece that's based on the first one—and I take liberties with it to keep things interesting.  I don't want to paint the same painting, and to keep from doing that, I may change materials or process or both.

Last fall, I went with my group up to Slide Rock State Park in Arizona to paint the spectacular fall color.  Golds, oranges, tawny greens—we had it all.  I made an oil painting of a cluster of aspen trees, set against Sedona's red rocks, and backlit by the late afternoon sun.

Original:  A Poplar Time
12x9 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

It loved that little painting.  But when it sold recently, I decided to make another version for myself before shipping it out.  So, I set up my easel and went to work.

I changed a few things, though.  In addition to my standard palette, which uses only ultramarine for my blue and no violet, I added cobalt blue and quinacridone violet, plus burnt sienna.  (All Gamblin colors.)  In the original, I'd used just ultramarine blue and phthalo green in the sky; the ultramarine made the redder, darker part of the sky and the phthalo green, the lighter, warmer part.  In the new version, I wanted to sandwich a cobalt blue between the two.  Additionally, I wanted to enrich the cool reds of the shadowed rocks in the near distance.  In the original, I used just permanent alizarin crimson, modified with blues and greens.  In the new version, I used the stronger quinacridone violet.  I tempered it with a little burnt sienna and cobalt blue.

New Version: That Time of Year
12x9 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Finally, I used a small painting knife.  I'd employed a brush in the original, and it made blending the shadowy parts of the aspens easy.  In this one, I had to use all my Jedi powers to get the knife to blend effectively.

All these changes kept the job interesting and also made for a whole new vision of this scene.  It's a different painting than the original but presents the same quality of light as in the original—and this was my goal.

By the way, my Holiday Sale continues!  Visit to get a gift for yourself or a friend.

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