Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Swinging the pendulum a little further

I felt so happy with the simplification in my last barn painting that I wanted to carry my boldness a little further on the next one. But, it was one of our gloomy days and I was a bit tired of painting gray skies and dark clouds, so I chose a photo recently taken in the high desert on the east side of the Cascades on a mostly sunny morning. I really wanted to stimulate myself to paint in warmer, more dramatic colors, so I started the painting with a drawing in black and burnt orange.

I was able to get the greens I wanted in the juniper needles, and the rough twisty bark of the juniper trunk was looking promising. I kept taking photos because I wanted to see later how it evolved. I kept laying in blocks of color, giving those colors the first priority, figuring I would shape them later, and hold off on detail till the end.

But on the second day, when I thought it should be close to done, the painting didn't have the same dynamics as the photograph did—it looked flat and uninteresting. When I got up on the third day, I spent some time looking closely for what I had missed in the composition. I noticed that the main difference was I had left the top part of the painting, especially the upper right quarter, too light. I added the dark area in the upper trunk, and darkened the foliage there as well, and with that the painting came back to life for me. It was only then that I realized how important that darkness was, in that part of the design, to the visual impact of the painting.

Juniper, Oregon High Desert
The whole time I was working on this painting I kept thinking of the line from "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"—"Everything will be all right in the end; if everything is not all right, it is not yet the end." I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to make this painting live up to my high expectations of it.

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