Friday, April 1, 2011

The Watchman, Zion National Park (2011), 30 x 40"

This painting was a challenge! Not only is it my largest painting to date, but I significantly altered the color scheme of the original photo. I generally do not attempt to change anything in my source photos--especially not the light source--because I have found that the result is a painting that does not make visual sense. But in this case, the original photo appeared to have been taken on a dark, overcast day and there was no obvious direction to the light. I had already sketched and painted part of the painting when I decided that the original photo was not ideal--thus, I attempted to make some alterations. Here is the original photo (found on and used under a creative commons license--original photo by Stuart Seeger):First, I determined that I wanted the light to be coming from the right side of the painting. So, I had to decide which faces of the mountains would be reflecting the light and which would be in shadow; also if there would be any cast shadows. I sketched the shadow pattern onto a sheet of paper and used it as a reference as I painted. I basically painted the canvas from the top down, starting with the sky, then the mountains, then then the trees, etc. I had to scrape the mountains off several times before I got the color scheme right. You can see evidence of this here (diagonal ridges) where I (unintentionally) let a layer of paint dry that wasn't completely flat:
I kind of like the effect, though, because it fits the rough texture of the rocky cliff face.

I think the end result is pretty successful. I really like the colors, especially on the mountains (see above photo). Looking back , I would have picked a different photo that had a good, interesting light source to begin with. It is hard to appreciate the details of the painting in such small photos, so here are some more close-ups:For sale at my Ugallery page.

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