Saturday, August 20, 2011

Horseshoe Bend

1.44 Horseshoe Bend. Painting progression. This painting was started before two most recently posted ones. I'm almost never able to return to a painting that I've spend a long time away from to finish it. This one was so close though, with only 30 minutes of work left so I buckled down and did it this morning. I was trying to imply extreme distance with the shift to a greyish purple in the far background. As I had imagined it before I started, I would have liked to make the transition from purple to red more subtle. Instead I cheated and hid the intermediate ground behind swollen rocks. I didn't mean to do this and from up close when the paint was wet it looked more blended. I'll have to try this again. I also tried to show sand in the shallow water near the river bank with a wash of the color I was using for the bank. I wanted this to fade into the blue but instead it stops abruptly making it look more like a reflection. Maybe if I try this while the blue of the river is still wet it may fade in more convincingly. I'm not sure why I've been stuck on paintings with water lately but it is nice to be able to inject a little more color.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Spider Rock

1.43 Spider Rock. Hmm, more finger painting. I pretty much did this whole painting by hand (literally) before going back and repainting some sections with the brush. All the shadows were done with a brush. I kind of like the contrast of the sharp edged shadows with the unpredictable coloration that comes from applying paint with my fingers. This also helped me with a common problem I encounter when I'm painting a canyon. I always struggle to find the right balance between emptiness and little details in the land that runs off to the horizon. The random application of color followed by rubbing and scraping to reshape that color gave an interesting wavy quality to that part of the painting that I like more than anything going on in the foreground.

Friday, August 12, 2011

White House Ruins III

1.42 White House Ruins III. So I dropped the brush while working on this painting and it left a black streak down the middle of the canvas. I quickly tried to wipe as much of the paint off as I could with my hand. Seeing that this only smudged the paint I reached down and grabbed some yellow, brown and white on my fingertips and started rubbing the paint into the canvas trying to blend this blemished area back into the background. 30 minutes later I had redone most of the color in the painting using my fingertips and the palm of my hand. I then started grabbing handfuls of black paint and scratching the shadows into the color.

With a brush is it difficult to create a natural looking mass of color without some pattern emerging due to the shape of the brush used. Fingers are infinitely variable and much easier to manipulate at different angles than a brush.

This subject is one that I've revisited twice now. Each time I've painted this scene it has come out very differently than the other paintings that have been working on immediately before. I think it is because the canyon wall is very open to interpretation. As long as the titular ruins are recognizable, the rest can be abstract. I don't think I'm going to toss out my brushes and devote myself to finger painting, but this was a fun unexpected detour.