Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ghost Ranch day 2

Saturday morning, we all packed up our STUFF (painters have alot of STUFF) and drove about 7 miles to the Big Eddy turnout on the Chama River.  It's called the Big Eddy because just at the end of the cliff there, the river has formed a big eddy (heh, heh).  No really, there's a huge bowl just past the shrubberies there on the left and the water pools around in a circle. The Chama River wilderness is, as one passerby said to me, "National Park class".  It is absolutely, fantastically beautiful and rugged.  I plan on going back.

We got a slightly later start than I had wanted, which is the usual case when you have a group of people.  Trying to get a bunch of artists organized and out the door is sort of like herding cats. But anyway, there was still the remnant of morning light when we got there and I set up fast and started furiously laying down the basic structure and light and shadow - because it was changing really fast.  That took about 30-40 min. of really fast, concentrated painting, and by the time I had done that, the light was completely different and the rest of the morning was spent working from that "outline". I had started on a used canvas that had been scraped down, and then I'd taken the leftover paint from my palette and mixed it to form a warm greenish gray and painted that over the surface.   This made a nice smooth non absorbent surface to work on, which I like, but the color was about a value 5.5 - that's a little darker than I prefer.  It made judging values a little easier though, something I often struggle with outdoors.
Looking upstream from where I painted. I was standing on a little sandbar in the middle of the river.
Yes, I had to hop some rocks and a little bit of water.  

 Here's the painting did on location in progress. I had to face the opposite direction from where I was painting to avoid the glare from the sun. I spent all morning looking left.  My neck hurt. It sure was nice though.... standing there listening to the river and
watching trout jump right in front of me!!

Morning on the Chama, oil, 12x16
This is the (almost) finished piece.  I promised someone I'd try to post this tonight, so I'll go ahead and put it here even though there's a few more things to do.
After getting it pretty much laid out while on location,  I was able to work in the studio, mostly from memory.
Once you've stood looking at a scene, concentrating on it for a couple of hours, you can do quite a bit from memory.  At least it usually works that way for me.  I didn't use any photo reference until I was working on the foreground.  The photo wasn't really much help.
As you can see, comparing the two, I added the reflected light and the sunlight bits on the distant hills.
I lightened the sky - the color in this photo is a bit off -it is not that yellow actually. 
I strengthened the reflection of the cliff in the water. That part was a challenge because I had both a shadow on the water and left bank from the cliff, as well as a reflection.  Additionally, in real life, there was more sky reflection in the water, but i wanted that section to stay as a large dark mass, so I didn't want to add too much of that and break it up. 
I added some more darks in the foreground.  I intend to add some more warmer tones in the cliff - I just feel like it needs that.

Corrections I see that need to happen are:
A couple of tangents - red cliff meeting tree on top of cliff and the distant shoreline is right at one of the points of the cliff.  Those are small things, but they just shouldn't be there.
Two triangle shapes repeated in water. Funny how our brain wants to repeat shapes.  Stop it, left brain!!
more reflected light in the top right hill that's in shadow.
slightly "more" reflection of cliff in water.

And something I might try is putting a shaft of sunlight coming in behind the cliff. This was morning, as the sun was coming up over the rugged terrain, and I thought that just might portray that feeling a bit better. I'll let you know on that one.  It has to be lightly scumbled on once that area is mostly dry, so I'll have to wait a bit.

As a side note, look at the first photo on this post, and compare that to the painting.  I wasn't standing exactly where I stood to paint, but pretty darn close.  This is a good example of how photographs tend to squish everything and make it look further away.  Think of photographs like your dog left in the kitchen where there's a pot roast sitting on the counter.  Don't trust 'em..

No comments: