Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Monsoon in the Superstitions - Step-by-step

"Approaching Monsoon" 11x14 inches, oil on linen panel

With this piece I wanted to contrast the glowing orange from a setting sun against the dark blue and violet in a desert monsoon. 

My palette here is:
titanium white, cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, burnt sienna, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, dioxazine purple, ultramarine blue, viridian hue (phthalo green)

Note on the palette: I only recently brought back yellow ochre and burnt sienna onto my palette. Normally I prefer to mix all my earth tones from complimentary colors. Lately they've been a nice convenience (mostly though, the yellow ochre is saving me from using too much cad yellow, which is costly)

First up, the sketch in. I lightly sketch in the rough outline of my composition using a mixture of ultramarine blue and cadmium red light, thinned with Gamsol.

Next I started blocking in the local colors. The goal here is just to get the canvas covered. I am not too concerned with details or exact shapes. I'm doing a kind of "scrubbing" effect with the brush. It forces paint into all the pits in the canvas, but leaves the paint thin enough so the next layers will stick to it.

Now that the foreground is getting covered, I added in some bushes and rough shadows to help me better judge the other colors/values.

Finally, the canvas is covered. I put in a couple hints of shadowed areas, focusing mostly on color and value, and getting the rough shape down.

The painting was starting to get some glare, so I had to take the photo at an angle.

Now that the canvas is covered, I can start putting down the thick paint. Using flat bristle brushes I started painting the sun-lit side of the rock face.

More of the rock face. I like mixing the paint with my brush rather than premixing with a palette knife. Mixing with my brush means I can't mix a ton of paint at once, which is a good thing, because it means I'll have to mix it again. Each time I mix it again, I want that color to be slightly different. The more variety in each brushstroke, whether it's bold or subtle, the better.

Now I'm going in with the light green on the hillside. 

Working my way down the hill and closer to the viewer, the green is getting warmer. (Remember my Green post from the other day)

Still working my way down with the light green. The slope facing the sun is warmer, and the slope facing upwards and/or away from the sun is much cooler.

Now for the bushes. The bushes in the foreground have a lot more yellow and yellow-orange than any bushes in the background will. Yellow is the first color to fade in atmospheric perspective.

Notice the color of the bushes changes as it goes back in space. It loses yellow first as it goes back. Shadows are being worked in this stage as well. Shadows are getting darker and warmer as they get closer. 

Nearly there. Some tweaks are made, and then it is time for saguaros. For me, saguaros help add a better sense of scale to a piece. 

A couple tweaks in the sky, and it's all done! 

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