Thursday, June 20, 2013

Painting the Southwest

Where the Road Leads, pastel, 8x10
Whenever I come back from a painting trip, stocked full of studies painted on location and reference photos of the area, I'm always eager to teach a topic in my classes that relates to what's fresh in my memory. I was actually prepared to hold a still life class the week after I returned from New Mexico. What was I thinking? With all that beautiful southwest imagery still floating around in my head? My students will be painting Albuquerque for the next couple of weeks! Since several of my students also visited Albuquerque to attend the IAPS convention, I didn't get an argument.

This week's demo was from a photo I took just a few steps from several areas where I painted on location. The challenge here was to accurately capture the distinct dark and light values on the mountain...without making the shadow areas of the mountain darker than the dark bushes on the ground, or the light areas of the mountain lighter than the sunlit grass. Also within the mountain values, we examined how the shadow areas still had highlights, but those lighter areas within the shadows still had to remain considerably darker than the sunlit areas of the mountain.

Below are a few progression shots. I guess with being out of town a lot the past few weeks, I didn't remember to snap all the shots I normally do in each class, so I've cheated here a bit. The three shots below combine shots from both Wednesday's and Thursday's demo. Both demos looked very similar, so I think I can get away with it here. ;-)

The initial layers are started with about 6 pastels (Nupastels and Rembrandts) and then wet down with alcohol and a bristle brush.


I also wanted to briefly share here another painting I completed this week, working from my favorite study that I painted in Albuquerque. This one began with my typical underpainting, much like I normally begin any of my paintings. Although this wasn't a demo, I felt compelled to snap a quick photo of the underpainting. Later, looking back at it, I was real satisfied with how I simplified the shapes in a very clean yet abstract manner. It really made the rest of the painting go smoothly and more quickly than usual.

Path of Light underpainting

Path of Light, pastel, 16 x 20

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