Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eaton Canyon

 Eaton Canyon Sunset
12"x36" Oil on Wood Panel
I painted this back in 2012. I felt it was done and set it aside to dry. After a while it had gotten covered up by a few other paintings that were drying but then never framed so there they sat blocking this painting from site.
I liked this scene and wanted a dramatic afternoon sun scene with lots of oranges and pinks but I wanted something else too. I wasn't trying to just capture the landscape or even the color...I wanted to capture the feel of the moment...the atmosphere of it all. Painting atmosphere is a whole other deal in painting. In the progression of things painters tend to paint the scene in front of them but in doing so seem to miss the effects of light and all the stuff floating around in the air that creates atmosphere. It took me a while to see that "stuff" and it took me even longer to learn to paint it well. It's all about painting the right values, not the color, but the light and darkess of the colors. To this day I still prefer to paint atmosphere because it is really a good challenge and to me makes for a better painting. 
I think gallery owners would say no, paint color and pizazz, it catches peoples eyes and gets their attention....it's easy to sell. Those paintings really do all of that and would make a subtle atmospheric painting pale in comparison. I just can't help painting them.   
The detail of the painting above shows my attempt to capture that late afternoon sunlight filtered by the air of the canyon. Getting the light and air in front of that distant mountain ridge and balancing that look against the lower hills in the center of the painting was critical. If that didn't look right to me then there was no sense in painting in the foreground at all. Slightly darkening the tree mass to the left was a way of getting better contrast to the middle area hills....it also balanced the darks of the trees to the left side of the painting. These overlapping planes give the painting depth and adjusting the values in each plane created the illusion of atmosphere. If I continue to work with atmosphere and get it right then I think I'll be turning out some monster paintings. So, you can paint a desert or you can paint a desert in sweltering heat and make your viewers feel the sweat rolling down their forehead and long for a glass of cool water. 

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