First layer of paint
So many choices! Where to begin?
As you can see in this photo of the first layer of paint, I have done some rearranging of the larger shapes from the reference photo. The photo makes you feel like the land is flat, whereas I want you to feel like you are on the road, on a hill looking out into the vastness and beauty of the mountains. Hopefully you will let your imagination soar while realizing you are standing at a great height. While I am painting, I am always striving to create a sense of 3-D, so that you want to go into the painting and be a part of it.
The size of canvas I chose is 16x20. There is nothing magical about this size, but it seemed manageable and the correct size given that I am going to be trying some new approaches to my painting. (I do wonder what this scene might be like to paint on a much larger canvas.) My canvases are always coated with a few layers of white gesso before I begin, using a 6" palette knife to apply the gesso. I create a thin organic texture on the canvas that gives the painting another dimension, though you can not easily see it in these photos. The other reason I coat my canvases is because I do not like the woven texture of canvas - neither the look nor the feel of it.
New painting approach: As a life long learner, I am always trying to challenge myself to be better at painting and communicating my message. For the past couple of years, my paintings had vibrant puzzle looking underpaintings. This painting will not have an underpainting and I will begin with colors closer to the final painting AND I am using a 1" cheap paint brush ($.85) from my local hardware box store. This brush forces me to mix lots of paint and I cannot be real accurate.
My palette is based on the purple-yellow complementary colors, because I want a pinkish-purpleish misty look in the far background. Many landscape painters leave the sky toward the end of the painting, whereas I like to put it in first because I think it sets the tone of the painting. It could also be my years of painting with watercolors where the medium almost requires one to begin with the sky. In actuality, the sky was an azure blue when we were driving, but that color does not create the harmonic feeling I want to convey. Interestingly, it did not come through in the photographs either because the sun was so low in the sky.
What would you have done differently? Where do you think is my central area of interest?
...to be continued.
Reference photo of Stony Pass, CO
Can an artist's life hang on the edge? Yes, literally and figuratively. A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I experienced our first 4x4 trail drive over the continental divide at Stony Pass, CO. We had never been on a 4-wheel drive, except on a Pink Tour in Sedona. With me at the wheel, we drove over rocks & streams, and sustained curves, steep hills, cliff hangers and narrow passages that I did not think possible. (I now have a new appreciation for my Hyundai Tuscon because I did not know her cabilities prior to this drive.) Frightened? You betcha!
Meanwhile, between moments of courage and terror, we experienced sites to behold. As it got later in the day (It took over 3 hours to drive 16 miles.), and we got closer to the peak of Stony Pass (about 12,300ft), the mountain vistas were stellar, the lighting extraordinary. Only a professional photographer could have truly captured the scenes accurately. The contrast of feeling like I was in heaven one moment and then hoping to survive the next was invigorating to say the least.
Sometimes nature presents a landscape so spectacular I wonder if I have the "right" to attempt to interpret it on canvas. How could I, a mere painter, express such beauty? Over the years, I have come to grips with the fact that Mother Nature will always have the upper hand and that my job is to create an interpretation and to express my feelings about my experience. If successful, I then share my vision with you, the viewer.
The photograph here is of one the many scenes we saw while driving Stony Pass. It is one of several reference photos I have. I thought it would be interesting for you to see what I am starting with as I begin my painting, though it is important to note that I have had the advantage of actually soaking in this sight in person and having all of my senses awakened by it.
When you look at this photograph, what might you change compositionally for a painting? Some other questions I must answer before I begin: Why do I want to paint this scene? What do I want to say about it? What is my vision? Where do I want you to look when you come upon the final painting? What will my color palette be? What size of canvas do I use? My next blog post will show and explain to you some of my answers.
....to be continued.
"Dylan the Tri-Colored Corgi" - 11x14 pastel
Dylan did not get a nose job, but I sure had fun painting him. Corgi dog owners may disapprove of the pug-like nose and I hope they understand that I am new at painting dogs and understanding what the camera lens can do. As I indicated in previous posts, his nose should be much more pointed.
One of my challenges in finishing Dylan was softening the edges between the fur colors so that the stripes were not too strong. I think they could be softened even more, what do you think? By softening his fur all over, his demeanor also softened. The eyes are meant to give that pleading look and I even got in his drool! My goal was to portray him as if he is saying, "Mom, can I have my treat now?"
Now I am beginning to wonder what it would be like to paint a Corgi with oil paints? Hmmm, do you think I should try oils or stick with pastels?
Thank you for your interest in Dylan and my painting process.
Further developing Dylan's character & fur
Dylan needs a nose job! It's official and Dylan's owner confirmed it, but the doctor - that would be me the artist - is not going to operate. Apparently in reality Dylan's nose is only about 1.5 times the size of his eye, so the camera really did alter him. This is a great example of how we can be misled my the lens of the camera.
Despite his charming nose, I continued to apply more layers of pastel by further defining the directions of his fur and giving colors more depth. I often use color opposites - oranges and blues in this situation - for darker areas versus the actual colors of gray or black because I believe that mixing colors is more interesting for the viewer. Black is rarely seen in my paintings, hence you will see very dark purples, blues, browns and sometimes magentas instead of black. Dylan's eyes, however, were first layered with a black and here I have added a reddish brown for the next layer in his eyes.
While painting, I keep thinking about how I want to portray Dylan so he looks like he is saying, "Mom, can I have my treat now?"
So would you have given Dylan a nose job
...to be continued.
Modeling of Dylan starts at this stage of painting
Did you figure out what is not correct with my drawing of Dylan? What is out of proportion? The 'magic' of photography is not always so magical, or is it?
Dylan's nose is foreshortened by the camera lens and I did not make adjustments to correct his larger than life snout. I also did not have additional photos of him to increase my awareness of my mistake. Since I knew this painting was an exercise my research was not anywhere near what it is normally. If I had gone and looked up tri-colored corgis I would have seen how their noses are quite pointed. I could have made the correction during the painting process, but I may have made a mess of things and besides I decided that I liked the comical look, (though his owner may not??).
At this stage of the painting you can see that I am working with more colors and in smaller areas. Dylan is starting to look round. Thoughts of Dylan's personality are always running through my mind and I am striving to project those characteristics in the painting. I am also making sure that his head is slightly tilted, though I think I could have tilted it more. What do you think? Notice that my pastel strokes are attempting to mimic the directions of his hair.
...to be continued.
Second layers of pastel applied
What is wrong with my drawing of this dog? Do you know? I believe that I have an idea, but I will continue with my painting because this is a practice exercise. Learning a new subject matter does take time and mistakes are bound to happen.
During this stage of the painting, I maintain my original large shapes and begin thinking about the colors that I want to apply under the top or later colors. I learned from painting my cat that the tawny colors work better with yellows as the under colors and that is why you see a lot of yellows and browns. Notice that Dylan still reads as a flat image. The modeling or making him look more 3-dimensional does not occur until the next phase.
Having never painted dogs, I am surprised by how much I am enjoying the challenge of this new subject matter. These are live creatures with individual personalities. It will be interesting to learn how to convey their character. You will have to keep me on my toes to make sure I do that!
Have you figured out what is wrong with my drawing of Dylan?
...to be continued.