Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Zion Update 2.0 (Exploring Evocative Color)

As I've been prepping for my Zion adventure over the past few weeks and gradually working my way back into a plain air routing I've been exploring different techniques and color schemes. I want to capture both the vivid colors of the landscape and the evocative in my plain air sketches while in the park and that has led me to revisit the alla prima technique and post-impressionist/fauve palette of my youth.

Desert Valley (rendering exercise), 6"x8", oils on gessobord

Of course, most of us can't simply switch from one way of seeing and painting to another. So, I've begun a series of "exercise" panels to retrain hand and eye. Every other week or so, I'll share the results with you -- hopefully good results, but maybe the occasional miss too (this to share not only the problems that arise, but how I go about resolving them creatively.) And, time permitting, I'll even try to include a step-by-step demo, if you're interested.

As things stand thus far, I've decided to do my "scouting sketches" (those done while out scouting trails for interesting subject matter and vantage points, under whatever lighting I encounter) on 6"x8" or 6"x6" panels for speed and portability. Planned plein air pieces (done at sites I've previously scouted, or been told about, at a time of day that offers the most dramatic lighting) will be done on 9"x12" or 12"x12" panels. And studio pieces (done either at the Grotto House while in residence or in my studio after returning home) will be done on 12"x24" or 18"x24" cradled panels. Of course, I'm always on the lookout for an excuse to do a panoramic painting. So, if the subject presents itself, I'll likely do an elongated watercolor on location and construct a special panel or canvas when I get home.

High Mountain Spring (rendering exercise), 9"x12", oils on gessobord

My first venture back into a post-impressionist palette this week was the 6"x8" landscape entitled Desert Valley (see at top of article) -- explored bold light and the use of cool colors and a limited value range in the background, advancing to a more vivid color scheme and value range as I progressed into the foreground. 

Yesterday's exercise (High Mountain Spring) explored the same palette's effectiveness in capturing low-angle lighting on sandstone rock formations like those I'll encounter in southern Utah. (And the "snow" even offered an imaginary escape from the Texas heat.)

Canyon Wall (thumbnail comp study), 2 1/8"x 4 1/4", graphite on paper

And today I'm working on a 12"x 24" landscape entitled Canyon Wall (see thumbnail comp above.)

So, what do you think? Do you like the "new" color scheme? Or do you prefer a more naturalistic rendering? (Like I used in the Cascades.) And would you like to see more of these color studies (with maybe a step-by-step or two) in future posts?


Never enough time when you're really having fun....

I want to maximize the amount of sketching, painting, journaling, photographing and videotaping I can do while in Utah, and en route. But, as is too often the case for all of us, time will be at a premium. So, I've decided that I will suspend publication of my blog -- beginning with my departure for Zion, and ending with my arrival home.

I will continue my weekly drawing and painting articles only until early October for those of you who are enjoying following along as I prepare for this new adventure. Beginning with the second week in October and running through the end of November -- I will be publishing an illustrated weekly newsletter (which will be delivered in a printable PDF format via email) exclusively for my Kickstarter fundraising campaign supporters (at all pledge levels) and sponsors.

So, if you'd like the latest news and images from Zion and on the road delivered weekly directly to your email inbox (along with the pledge rewards which will be delivered directly to your house) be sure and pledge... and don't forget to share the project with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And as always, thanks for your support!  

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