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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Colorado Landscape Series: Beavertail

This is another story of beauty on Interstate 70, between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs.

October 13th, my mom's 91st birthday, was a golden day. As my husband, Robert, drove east on the Western Slope, this is what we enjoyed just before we drove through Beavertail Mountain Tunnel along the Colorado River. The contrast of color and texture between the purple rock wall and the colorful foliage was my inspiration for this painting.

24 x 36", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2014

Stage 1: Drawing in the composition with a thin wash of paint.

Stage 2:  Blocking in the rock wall. I really enjoyed the fact that instead of a blue or cloudy sky as the backdrop for this idyllic scene, there was this incredibly dramatic, canyon wall. A perfect color contrast for the foreground of trees, grass and bushes.

Stage 3: Using a palette knife to add the second layer of color and texture.

I looked at all the main colors on the wall and with a palette knife applied those colors on top of the wet paint I had just laid down.

Stage 4: Once all the colors were down, I used a brush to pull them together.

Stage 5: Blocking in the foliage.

Applying more flat color for my under painting.

Stage 6: Adding the thicker second layer of paint over the wet under painting.

Stage 7: Once again, using a brush and palette knife, I pulled all the colors and edges into each other. I also added details like the tree branches.

Stage 8: I chose this purple for my under painting of the water.

Stage 9: Letting some of the purple show through, I came in and added the reflected colors in the water. After letting it rest a week or so, I reworked the wall a bit more and added a few more touches of detail in the trees.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Colorado Landscape Series: Grand Valley

When the car you are riding in is zipping down Interstate 70 at 65 miles an hour and you yell to the driver, "Stop!", you have to have a very understanding driver. Fortunately, I did. My husband, Robert, gets it. He's a team player when it comes to my painting, supporting me above and beyond what would seem reasonable to others. And so, on this gorgeous October morning, he stepped on those brakes just in time for me to hop out of the car and capture this scene in the Grand Valley, a part of Colorado most people miss if they never venture west beyond Vail. Western Colorado in the fall, lovely.
Grand Valley
14 x 18", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2014
Stage 1: The composition. After tinting the canvas with a wash of Transparent Earth Red and Ultramarine mixed with mineral spirits, I loosely painted in the lines of the composition before starting with the sky.
Stage 2: Painting the sky. I chose an earthy orange-rust for this under painting.
And then with a palette knife I began placing the shapes of the blue sky that appeared behind the clouds. With each stage of this painting I worked with the method of wet-on-wet paint. 
With my brush loaded with paint, I began to place the clouds. Once all of the colors were down, I wiped my brush and then started moving the paint around, blending and softening edges, then pulling the colors into each other. I left bits of the orange under painting showing.
Detail of the clouds.
Stage 3: Painting in the distant mountains.

Stage 4: Blocking in the middle ground of trees and bushes.

Stage 5: Adding texture, color and detail to the trees and bushes. I used a brush first and then the palette knife for this stage.
Stage 6: Painting the water.
After blocking in the water and then placing the second layers of color where I wanted them, I used a wide brush to drag the paint across the canvas to give it texture.
Stage 7: Blocking in the foreground.
Stage 8: Completing the painting. Once again, I used a brush to lay down the paint colors and then alternated with a brush and palette knife to get the effect I wanted for the grass.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Commissioned Seascape

Going Home
16 x 20", Acrylic on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2014
Some sunsets take your breath away. I like to think of them as beautiful gifts signaling the end of a day.

The reference photo for this sunset painting, taken during a family vacation in Mexico, suddenly became more than just a beautiful picture.  A deeper significance came with the loss of a beloved family member the following week. This image began to take on new layers of meaning...comfort, loss, grief, journey, a passing from this life to the next. Gentle, tender emotions seeking solace in the middle of the night.

I was honored to accept this commission. To put brush strokes to an image that will hold special meaning in the hearts of loved ones.

Stage 1: Preparing my canvas and loosely painting the image. I had two photographs to work from. One emphasized the dramatic water, the second focused on the sail boat and sunset. I created this composition from both of them. No sooner had I placed the boat where I thought I wanted it, I decided to move it just a bit lower. From there, I began with the sky.

 Stage 2: Painting the sky. Working with acrylics makes me paint fast and think quickly about what I want to do. Blending the clouds with softened edges was important.

Stage 3: Painting the boat. As much as it seems like the boat is one solid color/silhouette, it is not. I added slight variations of oranges and browns to keep it from appearing flat. It was tempting to paint in every single little line and detail with the masts but instead I will let the viewer's mind fill in the rest.

Stage 4: Painting the water.Working quickly so that I could blend my strokes, I painted less detail  near the horizon and then added more color, light and drama toward the bottom of the canvas with the water closer to the viewer. My goal was to add just enough detail and information.

Stage 5: Completing the painting. To complete this painting I went over it all adding touches of light, variations of color and more paint where I thought it was needed. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Colorado Landscapes Series: Cottonwood Gold

Last summer and fall I had Colorado Landscapes on my brain. Everywhere I looked I thought, "painting". On the 13th of last October my husband, Robert, my sister, Joan and I, were heading east on I-70 and had stopped at a gas station in Rifle. There were fall colors everywhere. The cottonwood trees were literally adorning this quaint little western Colorado town along the interstate. While they went into the store I grabbed my camera and made haste to capture these trees down by the river with my lens. The air was still but there was visual movement in their branches. Their colors added such drama; I was spellbound.
Stage 1: Using my photograph as a reference, I loosely painted in the lines of the trees freehand, focusing on the composition. From my photo there really wasn't much in the foreground and so I lengthened and exaggerated the grasses that I had in the photo a bit so that the painting would be more balanced.
Stage 2: Blocking in the green leaves with a thin layer of paint.

Adding in the golds and rusts.

Stage 3: After blocking in the trees I came back in with a second layer of thicker paint over the entire painting. I then alternated with a palette knife and brushes to get the effect I wanted.

Now it is time to let the painting rest and then make the final adjustments and changes in a week or so. Just looking at the photograph of the painting below, I already see things I want to change just a bit.

Cottonwood Gold
14 x 18", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c)2014