Friday, January 25, 2013

Antelope Canyon

1.88 Antelope Canyon. I'm usually very stingy with my paint. I always wait for a previous layer of paint to dry before I apply the next layer so that I can use the least amount of paint to render the color difference. One consequence of this approach is that I rarely finish a painting in one day, let alone one sitting. I've often wondered if this has an effect on my style of painting and whether or not finishing a painting in one continuous sitting would result in a different type of work.

I've wanted to paint antelope canyon since I visited it years ago, but I never have because of perceived limitations in my style of painting. First, the shadows on the smooth, curving canyon wall slowly blend into the light which is the antithesis of the stark shadows that I usually like to paint. Second, a painting of antelope canyon would require so many layers of paint and waiting for said paint to dry that I never thought I'd have the patience. 

Today I decided that I'd paint all the layers at once, while the paint was wet. Starting from the most distant layer I laid on thick sheets of paint, adding more and more to overwhelm the colors from the layers below as I went from highlight to shadow. One of the major challenges that I discovered with this style of painting was attempting to disguise my brushstrokes. With colors from underneath blending with the paint on my brush as I dragged it across the canvas, it was impossible to hide the beginning and end of each stroke. I had to make each stroke begin and end at the edge of the canvas or else blend the colors from the layers below. This was difficult for me as I like to create sharp contrast between the elements of a scene in my paintings.

The benefit of this style of painting is the frequent encounters with the unexpected. Colors that were buried deep below would appear seredipitously to create interesting effects that I had not planned. I tried to train myself to look for these elements as they came into existence because it was all too easy to wipe them away with the next stroke of the brush and never even notice.

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