Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Goldenrain Tree

She just seems a bit shy to me, as though she would happily hide, but the harsh afternoon sun and her own exotic foliage conspire to make her a star.

5.5"x11.5" Pastels on Wallis Museum Grade
The challenge to myself was to take an utterly boring photo and do a painting using Richard McKinley’s watercolor under painting technique…and try to make the painting more interesting than the photo. You see the journal entry here with color sketch and photo.

The first time out I used a rather strongly colored under painting like I see so many artists use. My colors got too hot though and I couldn’t get harmony between a lemon-lime sky and hot orange leaf litter.
Version 1
So I tried again. Here is a series of snapshots as things progressed toward what was the final piece at the top of the post. This time I spent much more time on the sketch, trying to get the radial arms placed properly as shapes. When I wing it, my drawing mind gets lazy trying to keep up with my color hand (as we see in the first attempt). In the end I could see from the watercolor where the painting was supposed to go.  That’s much more than I could say for the first attempt.

So okay—it’s a tree in the woods and it’s not a riot of circus’s nearly normal looking, and yet I am pleased. 10 hours today from decision to the declaration of  ‘done for now.'

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Journey to Horse Creek

Thank you Gary Keimig for allowing me to use your photo from Horse Creek as the reference! It’s been a month getting here. First, I was enamored of Gary’s photo, but wasn’t really sure what was drawing me to it. Maybe it's that I’m a mountain girl at heart and here I saw what could have been my beloved Appalachia and the Rugged Rockies in a single view. At any rate, I wanted to explore this image, and an expedition it became.

11x17" Soft Pastels on Wallis Museum Grade paper

I took the image into Photoshop and just pushed the contrast and brightness a little. That revealed the shadow lines and the lay of the land in the foreground. Wishing to avoid all the detail of the brush, I simplified the image to value masses and decided to try it as a representational abstract in watercolor. Enjoyed this, but the clouds were a disaster. Removed and tried again until I finally ruined it and gave it up for lost.

 Gary Keimig's Photo from Horse Creek

Determined not to be beaten, I returned to Photoshop just to play and see what I could discover with the painting tools as I had not yet used them. In my mucking around I happened to create a pale yellow sky where there was none at all, and THAT inspired the treatment you see here.  I saw a late (or early) thunderstorm moving off east, with a clear yellow sky, and cloud tailings being pulled away into the retreating clouds. That gave me excuse for the light on the golden hill, and a way to tie the bottom of the image to the top. This time in Pastels.

Update 08.03.10
I have been living with this piece for several weeks and love it more very day, though until today, I was unable to say why. Now I know. I like that the distant mountains seem to be so 'other worldy' as if from a dream. This picture speaks to me in metaphor, the 'mental' clouds beginning to lift the veil between what is beneath my feet and what could lie in my future. Solid obstacles lie between, but so does a path from here to there...and so the name should be simply 'Clearing.'