As a wanna-be oil landscape artist, I imagine I'll have all number of pretty landscape pictures.  Some I may even do more than once.  I tend to like single-word names because I like to challenge myself.  But ultimately, I may just name my paintings by numbers.

Anyway.  I take lots of pictures of pretty views.  Seeing pretty views is one thing.  Seeing one that's worthy of a composition and some paint is a whole other thing.

My first finished painting will be from a photograph I took from near the northern end of the Black Canyon trail in Arizona.  I was attempting a 60K for the third time on this trail, and for the 2nd time I was coming off an illness.  I did not finish.  Once I realized I wasn't going to finish, I simply relaxed and took some pictures.  This is one of them.  

I started out by toning my canvas, and I think this may be the secret for me.   I love the way the color peeks through, here and there.

 My first pass was colors that seem GREEN.  like, jarringly green.  I puzzled over this, and the fact that sky seems weirdly blue.  This is because they are next to the toned canvas color.  

But I like the toned canvas because there are tiny hints and teeny bursts of color.   In the desert it's hard to show that without making it look like Andy Warhol does Landscapes.  

My next pass over is to tone down the greens a bit.  


 Now now after adding some darks, it seems a bit dark.  The the sparse nature of the high desert is lost in all of the sage that I painted in.  And, I've lost the perspective of the foreground, which doesn't show any transition heading down the trail. 

My mentor made some suggestions, and demonstrated how I could put in some highlights, showing the sun peeking through the clouds, and here's where it is now, after I added some highlights earlier today.

I'll post the final version when it's done.  



Colors aren't colors all by them selves, I've learned.

I have to say it's exciting learning that you're wrong, especially when 'wrong' refers to completely skipping over something because you might not enjoy it.  For me, that's like oil painting.  

After listening to me kvetch about how I never have time to attend classes, and knowing that I want to be a landscape artist, husband found one to mentor me.  Technically speaking, he's actually teaching me since I've never had a class in beginning painting.  And. he's an oil painter.

I had, early on, discounted the idea of oil painting, assuming that it was 1) messy, 2) would trigger huge asthma attacks, 3) was messy, and 4) I can't paint wet-on-wet.  

I'm amazed to find that it's not smelly, especially since there's something called "odorless paint thinner," and since I wear gloves and a smock, it's not messy at all.  In face, it's easier to clean up because it doesn't dry in 30 seconds, like acrylics, ruining whatever it touches.  Including, for instance, brushes.  

Required reading is John Carlson and Kevin McPherson.  My teacher, Tom Blazier, has so much knowledge to teach me that it makes my brain hurt.  But so it is, that at some point, I had to actually put paintbrush to canvas.  

This is the picture.  

This was taken during the 20-miler at Old Cascadia Trail Run, at approximately the third hump in this elevation profile.

Step 1: Shapes and values.  Here's my sketch.

I took the liberty of changing up this picture, making clumps of pine trees rather than a single wall; there will be something done in the foreground to create a path for the eye to move through towards the opening in the trees.

Next step was to mix some values and hues.  Now, this is an iphone picture, so the color isn't exactly on point...as well, I had already gone in and put in some relief in the distant mountains.

Now what is that weird wall between the first two mountains?  Oh, that has to go.  

This one is still in progress.

So while working on another painting, I also had another "a-ha" moment, at least for me: things are not just the color they are.  They are the color they are relative to the color next to them.  

My oil painting mentor has been trying to teach this to me but I just haven't been getting it, until I started on my next painting.