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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.

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