Friday, February 1, 2008

Work in Progress

This morning, I woke up and decided to do a larger painting I began sketching last week from a very old 3" by 5" somewhat faded photograph. This is of Wilbur Creek in Glacier National Park in Montana. I have never forgotten the wonderful little waterfall and how I sat on the bridge over the creek to take the painting. I found a large piece of Wallis paper and did a sketch that will work up to a 14" x 18" finished painting.

I am still rather new at using under-paintings, but decided I would do some complementary colors with some darks in the areas I want to focus on. I used mostly NuPastels in this step, but I have a very lush Terry Ludwig brown I used for the rocks. This stage is pretty scary for me because I am sure I am ruining a perfectly good piece of paper.

Once I had all the colors in place, I took my turpenoid and soft brush to melt the pastels and create a toned surface for my painting. While I don't have a great deal of experience with under-paintings, I have tried water and alcohol, but I really like the surface created with the turpenoid. It seems richer to me. I also get a much more even cover. I really have fought this method for a long time, but the last couple of paintings I have done this way have ended up looking deeper and richer. I just wish the Wallis paper wasn't so expensive.

Once the underpainting completely dried, I started developing the painting. I often start with the sky and that helps me establish the values in the distant plane. When I do the sky later, I almost always have to redo any distant mountains I have included. This time, I worked the mountain next. It is hard to tell in the photo, but I seem to remember it being rather washed out, faded. It was a hot summer day, late in the afternoon, when I was there. The next thing I did was work to really establish the water path and small falls, followed by laying in the tilted rock slabs. I am happy with the depth I established in the river at the bottom of the falls. It was rather shallow and the gravely bottom had tones of gold. I have much to do still before this one is finished, but I like the direction it is taking.

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