“Mayflower Gulch” Oil Painting

| September 13, 2009
“Mayflower Gulch” - 11×14, Oil on Linen on Board

“Mayflower Gulch” – 11×14, Oil on Linen on Board

Update 9/18: Per a recommendation by Randy Saffle, I decided to rework the mountains and sky a little. Basically, I loosened up the detail on the mountain and lightened up the shadows and sky to introduce a bit more atmosphere. In all, I like the adjustment as it takes the image a little farther away from the storybook impression I was feeling before.

For the time being I have decided that alla prima is not for me. I often feel frustrated when trying to complete a painting in one session. It seems I am mostly pushing paint around the canvas hoping something good happens. I know those with more experience can pull it off to create great paintings, but I personally feel that I have more control when I spread the painting over a few days. Since I am still learning the ins and outs of the complexities of painting including composition, color, values, and temperature, working a painting over a few days allows me the think more about my choices and gives me the freedom to make meaningful changes. On the piece above, I spent the first stages just creating the primary masses and their respective color temperatures. I probably redid the mountains three or four times, just experimenting with different values. I also spent a fair amount of time indicating the light and shadow planes of the rocky features along the mountain range so that they were interesting but not overwhelming to the piece as a whole. The hardest part for me is creating convincing interest in the foreground. I feel like the grass turned out pretty well in this one but it was, for me, the hardest part of the piece. From a compositional perspective, I tried to create a visual path through the painting starting with the tracks in the foreground, leading into the “Z” pattern, and eventually up into the mountains. To me, the piece still looks a little storybook for my tastes but I do feel that I learned something in the process and that what this whole adventure is all about.

Category: Fine Art and Painting

Comments (6)

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  1. Nicole says:

    What marvellous greens you have in this piece! I especially like the way the sunlight falls across the tire tracks — for some reason, that sort of thing always gives me a nostalgic yearning for winter (which will be here soon enough!). Thanks for sharing this work!

  2. Lee says:

    Thank you for the kind note Nicole. Me too about the tracks. It was an after thought that seemed to make sense and would be something fun to try. Wow! You are a talented lady. I visited your blog and love the variety of cooking, art and everything else. I am looking forward to spending some time at your blog. Take care, /Lee.

  3. Randy says:

    Very good job! Nicole was right about the light on the tracks. I know it’s not really moving, but I can’t help seeing it flicker and dance over the tracks. The value / light in the middle opening of the trees is perfect. It really draws my eyes towards it and makes me wonder what is around the corner. The only thing I may suggest to help with your “storybook” feeling is possibly adding more atmosphere, clouds or looseness to the distant mountains. That could also make it feel more cold.

    Very nice painting!

  4. Lee says:

    Thanks as always for the feedback Randy. I agree more atmosphere will help. What the heck, I may give it a go on this one! I pushed the mountains back once, which helped, but I still want more of that “mysterious big mountain” look going on. Hope work has lightened up for you. I will be looking for another piece on your site soon!

  5. Kerri Settle says:

    This is a beautiful piece!

    It took me a long time to realize that alla prima wasn’t really right for me, either. It was hard for me to break away from wanting to do everything in one sitting since that really seems to be the popular way of doing it these days, but I’m much more comfortable with my work when I give it a few sessions. It doesn’t mean I don’t envy those that can, though!

  6. Lee says:

    Thanks Kerry. Glad I am not alone! I watched Richard Schmid video recently and was mesmerized as I watched him create an amazing look and feel while the paint was fresh in the canvas. Decades of experience always helps I guess. I appreciate you stopping by and always appreciate your feedback!