Sunday, May 5, 2019

Spring in the Canyon: Outdoor Study to Studio

Spring in the Canyon
30x24 Oil/canvas - Available

After I returned home from my painting trip to northern Arizona, I had a hankering to turn one of my little plein air sketches into something bigger.  One image that really spoke to me was the sketch from the very last day, a sketch I hurried through because of the wind and the fact that we had to get on the road by a certain time.  I painted "Face Rock" in about 30 minutes, perched on the edge of a cliff, hunkered down behind a juniper for shelter.  The wind was gusty, though, and found me.

Here's the sketch:

Face Rock
9x6 Oil - Available

I liked the color, the design and the sense of distance in this 9x6 piece.  I decided I could make a bigger statement with it in the studio.

There wasn't much re-designing to do, as I was rather happy with the composition as-is.  So, I took a 24x30 canvas and drew in the design.  The part that I knew would give me the most trouble would be the view in the distance;  in the plein air sketch, I had heavily abstracted it into just a pattern of color, but I knew I'd need a little more going on in a larger painting.  Although I referred mostly to my sketch throughout the painting process, I found a photo (snapped with my Moto G6 phone) that had enough detail to go by.  Using the photo, I played a little with re-organizing the distant space and also with working on getting the form right of the rock featured on the left.  Then I put the photo away, preferring to work as much as possible from my little sketch.

Step 1 – Drawing with black pastel.  I painted the sky in with cerulean blue.  (All colors are from Gamblin Artist Colors.)



Step 2 – I applied transparent washes (using Gamsol) of ultramarine blue, quinacridone magenta and hansa yellow light to the distance.  In the foreground, transparent washes of transparent earth red, ultramarine blue and sap green.  I followed this with reinforcing the drawing of the main rock with quinacridone magenta, straight from the tube.  For this first layer, I used Gamblin's Fastmatte colors so it would dry in a day.



Step 3 – Established the pattern of the canyon in the distance, again with transparent color.



Step 4 – I focussed exclusively on the foreground rock, which is the center of interest.  I applied both opaque and transparent color, building up the form.  I added burnt sienna to my palette.



Step 5 – I worked on the distant view, working to establish a sense of depth with cerulean blue and other colors. I addressed the foreground below the rock tower, using a burnt sienna, transparent earth red, sap green and other colors.



I continued to work on the patterning of the distant view, and I did pull out the photo again to get some ideas on the shapes of cliffs.  Once I thought the painting was complete, I put it away for a day, and then I returned to it, working a little bit more on the most distant rock wall to scumble a few more cool colors over it to push it back a wee bit more.

Who'd think that you could scale up a little 9x6 sketch into a 30x24 finished painting?   I referred to the photo very little, and only when I absolutely needed more information for forms.

Here's the finished painting, in a frame:

Spring in the Canyon
30x24 Oil/canvas - Available

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