Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shiprock


1.52 Shiprock, NM. Not my favorite painting... but I was happy with how the horizon turned out. When you have access to a high vantage point you see that haze and distance combine on an immense flat area to create a horizon that fades from red to brown to grey to blue. This effect has always been really difficult for me to recreate because I always try to do it as a perfect gradient. What I realized here is that the transition is not a perfect gradient but instead transitions abruptly or gradually depending on the rise and fall of the landscape. If there is even a small swell in the distance then the transition to blue will progress abruptly just over the top of the hill. Flat areas will have a more gradual transition. The problem with a perfect gradient across the horizon is that it implies that the land is perfectly flat, which it almost never is.

  The problem that I ran into here was that I couldn't get a good grasp on the three dimensional form of Shiprock. No matter how I tried to suggest a real three dimensional object with the addition of shadows and color variations, I just couldn't get it to come off of the canvas. At best it now looks like a few pieces of paper cut into jagged shapes and held up in front of a desk lamp. This is probably what causes the long shadow to look so false to the people to whom I have shown the painting. One person said "The shadow looks way too tall". This must be because there's no way to tell if the Shiprock in this painting is a massive, jagged protuberance or a pebble in the sand. For a pebble in the sand to have a shadow reaching out to the mountains on the horizon is ridiculous.

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