Sunday, June 13, 2010

Teardrop Arch

Painting 1.25 Teardrop Arch, Monument Valley. I really don't like this painting. However, I find that putting thought into why things don't work can be even more useful than appreciating the things that do. In my mind, this scene had a lot of interesting elements: dramatic sunset lighting, a beautiful scene in the distance which could be made to fade into the horizon and a closeup of a shadowy rock wall. I really enjoy painting all of these things, so I thought this would be a joy to work on. My first problem was choosing a small 11x14" canvas on which to do the painting. 11x14" is a great size for trying out ideas before attempting them on a larger and more expensive canvas. They also allow me to complete paintings quickly, in two days for me if it's working. The problem here is that the scene from Monument Valley in the distance could have been its own painting and I was trying to paint it as such. This means that I had to fit an entire painting's worth of detail in a 3x5" space. Some people can do this very effectively and sell loads of tiny paintings, but this is something that I have not been able to do up to this point. The result was a scene that didn't convey the immensity of the actual site and didn't fade into the horizon the way I wanted it to.

The second problem was with the arch itself. I was attracted to it because of the large crack through its top and the wonderful shadow it casts at sunset. However, aside from this, the rock face is relatively smooth and shadowless. I tried exaggerating little cracks that I saw in the surface of the rock by giving them larger shadows to add interest but to me it ended up looking fake and unrealistic. Weathering in rocks is governed by random distribution of weak points in the stone. The result is almost always stunning, but the randomness is difficult to fake. A person trying to create a random array of lines will almost always unknowingly imbue them with some order which will be obvious when one steps away from the painting and looks at it.

Giclee Print

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