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Monday, January 27, 2014

Landscape Painting: Part 4, "Mt. Daly"Completed

Finishing a painting always reminds me of the sensations I had after completing a final test while in college. Happy and extremely relieved. I could hardly stand the pressure. I tried to think back to my high school days and can't remember my feelings at all about the tests back then (I must have really hated them). Ironically, now as a professional artist, I love the challenges of a painting deadline. In fact, I welcome them. Which is probably why I like doing commissioned paintings. There is usually a deadline involved and the pressure gets my adrenaline going which in turn gives me the energy and inspiration I need to see the creative project to completion.

This landscape painting was one of those challenges which I thoroughly enjoyed. The deadline gave me the excuse to paint night and day and ignore all my other day to day responsibilities.( I will admit that I still have to put some miscellaneous Christmas stuff away. Its all hidden in my laundry room.) A couple of times I painted in my pajamas for most of the day...it was very comfortable and guilt free.  But in the end, the painting was completed in time and was just barely dry enough to put it in the frame I had ordered. Two days later it was ceremoniously presented to a very deserving recipient.


Stage 8: Painting the foreground. I started by blocking in the grassy area with an under painting of a neutral green, leaving hints in the areas where the trees and rocks would go.

And then with a darker green, I blocked in the trees, rocks and then the stream.

 Stage 9: Applying the second layer of paint.Working wet on wet paint, I came in with a putty knife to apply the thicker paint that would give depth, color and texture.

Here is a closer look at Stage 9. From there, with a variety of brushes, I worked the colors into the canvas.

Mt. Daly
24 x 30", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c)2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Landscape Painting: Mt. Daly, Part 3

As I continued on with the stages of this painting, each brush stroke took me further away from my present circumstances and gently pulled me back into the memories of that quiet summer morning. I began to feel as though I was there again. The air was fresh and clean after the night rain. All was quiet. As I looked up, I noticed that layers of tall trees framed each side of Mt. Daly.
Stage 6: Painting the trees. I decided to use a darker value of green to block in the shapes of the trees and then come back in with lighter colors to give definition.
My goal was to keep these initial shapes simple.
I experimented with the shapes of the light clouds hovering beneath the mountain.
It was time to leave the clouds alone and see how they looked after I put more trees in.
Stage 7: Adding details to the trees. Along with the pine trees was the contrast of the aspens. They helped define the space between them and the forest beyond (as well as giving variation in color and texture). I took out the low clouds; they felt like a distraction. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Landscape Painting: Mt. Daly, Part 2

 Stage 2Painting the sky. I started the sky by blocking it in with a somewhat thin layer of light gray-blue. While the paint was still fresh and wet, I painted the white clouds into it, softening the edges as I went. I enjoyed the subtle hints of pinks and lavender.
There was a fluffy, light cloud cover in the sky that morning, somewhat unusual for a Colorado summer morning. More often than not, its a solid blue sky. The random pattern of the openings in the clouds intrigued me with little bits of blue peeking through.
Stage 3: Painting the trees into the sky. To get the effect I wanted, painting wet paint onto wet paint, I realized that I had to paint at least the tops of the trees that overlapped and framed the edges of the sky.
Stage 4: Blocking in Mt. Daly. As we came upon this wilderness scene, with Mt. Daly looming in the distance, I was impressed with the light and how it was enhancing the colors of this peak. As I blocked in the colors I couldn't help thinking of it as a patchwork quilt.
Stage 5: Painting Mt. Daly. I loved what the clouds and sunlight were doing as random patterns of shadow and light moved across the mountain's form. The biggest challenge was giving enough visual information to make it interesting and believable but at the same time keeping it simple enough so that it didn't look tight and too detailed.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Landscape Painting: Mt. Daly, Part 1

Every January I look forward to the new year with excitement and anticipation. What will 2014 hold? Some of it is planned in advance with goals that have been in place for several months. I enjoy the new challenges. For example, I am ready to begin in earnest my "Colorado Landscape" series with an exhibit scheduled in early May at G44 Gallery. I am also looking forward to some commissioned portraits. And then there are the surprises. Paintings in my future that right now I am totally unaware of. Creative surprises in the new year. What will they be?

The first oil commission of this year falls right in line with my new landscape series. It brings back special memories of the backpacking trip my husband Robert and I took last summer. The reference photo for this painting was taken on the first day. I was so excited and in awe of the beauty that surrounded me. Before we had even reached the trail head I was captivated by this view: Mt. Daly looming straight ahead, welcoming me to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness in the White River National Forest.
Stage 1: Mt. Daly. Sketching in the composition freehand with a thin wash of Ultramarine Blue and Transparent Earth Red mixed with mineral spirits. This stage always seems like it can be loosely done but in reality I force myself to take great care and really think through the composition. This is a good time to do some problem solving while mentally creating a plan of action. My natural impulse it to rush through this stage telling myself that I will fix it later. While that is possible, it always takes more time and wastes energy.