I can’t seem to get enough of these art challenges. They so neatly answer the question of “what should I paint next,” while forcing me to explore subjects I wouldn’t normally choose. This painting is my answer to the Wet Canvas Southwest and Western Art forum challenge for May. The photo of an old adobe outside the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico was kindly provided by Diane Cutter. (Check out Diane’s really cool woodcut of Karin Jurick’s dog Jack! It was completed after the deadline, so it didn’t get posted on the DSFDF blog.)
Here are a few images taken along the way:
I toned the canvas with shades of yellow and red acrylic, then sketched in some rough guidelines with ink.
Here I’ve started painting in oils, keeping with the orange theme. I make a mental note to myself to keep the shadows warm and the light cool.
If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that I’m an indecisive painter. I don’t start with a plan, and I don’t know what looks “right” until I see it. I’m the artist equivalent of the woman who tries on two dozen different outfits (some several times) before choosing one, or moves the living room furniture repeatedly to see what feels right. My paintings have to try on a few looks before I know which one I can live with.
For starters, I’ve tried painting what I saw in the reference photo, a series of white clouds. I liked the sky in the photo, but my version lacks punch. Really, it’s about as interesting as a bag of cotton balls. I paint it out and try…
…a simple cloudless sky. Which is even more boring than the previous version. You’d think it would be easy to do a sky like this, and it probably is for many artists. Not me. Mine has that awful chalky look (in spite of using zinc white), and I can’t get the color right. I wish I had a tube of cerulean blue.
So, in frustration, I paint it out again…
…and slash in the hint of a distant storm. Hey, I like that! It makes the foreground pop. Okay, it’s a keeper.
See that mesa to the right? I like how it turned out, too!
And now it’s gone. I almost wish I hadn’t painted those trees over it. Parts of the mesa where supposed to peek through the leaves, but I got a little heavy handed with the foliage.
Then again, maybe it’s better this way. The composition was a little odd before, with a mesa on either side and a house in the middle. Now it has more of a diagonal flow.
Originally I wanted to paint a couple of saddled horses under the tree to give it that old west look, but I chickened out. I think I’ll just sign it and move on before I ruin it!