Saturday, March 8, 2014

Plein Air at the Grand Canyon (and one in Flagstaff)

Just got back from a quick day trip to the Grand Canyon. I painted two pieces on location, both are 9x12 inches.

I've been using a new palette, as well. I figure I'll mention it beforehand. I chose these colors based on mixing compliments to neutralize, rather than using earth tones...

Titanium White
Cadmium Yellow Light
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Scarlet
Crimson Lake (Holbein brand. Alizarin Crimson would work the same)
Dioxazine Purple
Ultramarine Blue Deep (Holbein)
Cobalt Blue
Viridian Hue (Holbein brand. It's a lot stronger than regular Viridian, since it's made with Phthalo Green)
Brilliant Green (Utrecht)
Yellow Green (Utrecht)

I don't normally carry really vibrant greens on my palette; in fact Viridian is typically the only green I use. But lately I have been discovering how useful it is to have a selection of really vibrant greens. It's always easy to knock the intensity back with the oranges, reds and violets on the palette. It's also really convenient to add touches of the vibrant green to a mixture, in order to slowly bring it up in intensity.

With trees especially, I like making them much greyer than I have to, and then selectively brighten areas. It's very easy to bump a color's saturation when you have a nuclear-strength green available. The key is to never use those greens on their own though, because otherwise your painting will look like a golf course in a cartoon. The same could be said of any other vibrant color, I suppose.

Anyway, on with the show. First up was on the south rim, looking southeast. This is my favorite of the two. I was able to spend a little more time on it. I found a quiet ledge away from the tourists and painted away.

The next one was painted partway down the Bright Angel Trail. This one was a little rushed, and I wish I could have spent another hour on it. The sun was sinking, though, and we had to hike back and drive back to Flagstaff before dark.

My main goal with the second one was to study the value difference between the nearest cliff (in shadow), and the very light, distant cliffs.

Lastly we have a painting I knocked out yesterday after a couple mile hike outside of Flagstaff. Sadly there is no snow to be found outside of Humphrey's peak. I took this photo with my phone, so the quality is not the same as the others. 

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