Saturday, April 25, 2009

North Window Arch

Painting 1.4 The North Window, Arches National Park. This is another of the very first paintings that I completed. I'd left it out until this point because I had always felt that it didn't fit well with what I made before or after it. I was trying to build off of 1.3 (white house ruins) where I had liked the dark encroaching from the sides and the fractured look of the rock. I took this and went overboard with it in this painting. I think that I used too many colors trying to depict different strata in the rock. Its true that there are many layers visible in a fin of sandstone, but I feel like these are too exaggerated. Because I'm interested in the geology of the southwest, it has become important to me to depict rock strata with some amount of realism. Its easy to treat strata as an excuse to throw every earthy color you can mix up onto the canvas, but I feel like this might convey a misunderstanding and underappreciation of the landscape and the mechanisms that drive its creation.

One other aspect that I wasn't so fond of was the shadows. With the sun rising behind the arch, there was really almost no light reflecting from the side of the arch facing me. I exaggerated the surface to look like crumpled paper with stark shadows. I always believe that the way that these places look in reality is far better than what I can conjure with my imagination. If I work to find a way to depict a place based on how it really appears, I am almost always happy with the result.

However, these issues don't bother me as much now as they used to. When I remembered walking up to the north window as the sun rose, I saw it as it is shown in this painting. Only when I looked back at a picture that I had taken did I realize that the arch was only a silhouette. The benefit of painting a scene is that you can make it appear as it does in a faint and romanticized memory. I'd like to do more of this in future paintings.

Giclee Print