|Rio Grande Glory by J. Binford Bell|
I began this 24 x 30 inch mixed media painting last summer. It was inspired by several photographic trips to the Rio Grande River which has become a national monument - Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. There are so many great photographs taken of this river because for a large segment a road runs beside it. I drive through Embudo Canyon a lot and my mind is full of even more images of the light on the sides and the rafts on the river.
|A road runs beside it through Embudo Canyon|
Doing a painting of this inspiring canyon and the river which formed it became an opportunity to blend the digital images with my mental images and apply the emotion I feel when I am there. As I looked through my photo files this morning to find the one image I had used to arrive at the drawing I realized there was not just one but several. I liked the light on the hills in the photo above and the plateaus in the photo below.
|Fly fisherman above Embudo Canyon|
And I love the bends of the river with exposed islands from the low water this spring.
I began my painting in July. With low water and exposed rocks. And I finished it in the fall when the river was higher and the colors along the banks no longer green. For a couple months the painting sat in my studio stalled with just the sky and the water. I don't use a lot of green in my compositions. And yet those were the pictures I had to refer back to.
|Two principle elements|
I was lucky enough to be able to return to the Rio Grande shores this fall and get some new inspiration. I toyed with adding the fall reflections to the river like in the photograph below but I think that is another painting. I wanted the river in my painting to be a reflection of the sky. But I now had the palate for my shore.
|Colors of fall|
I was able to begin working in earnest again and blocked out the major colors. I knew at this stage that once the watercolors were in place I would begin using the oil sticks to finish.
|Basic colors laid in|
In the final details were segments of other photographs and other times between low water and high. Last trip I made to the Rio Grande the rocks were not visible. The crosses on the bluff are from further up river. And I took the road out that runs along the right side. Artistic license or blinders. When I look at the Rio Grand in Embudo Canyon I do not see the road. I find it rude that it shows up in photographs.
And I always put the ravens in the skies of my day time paintings. And since the death of a soul mate there has always been one raven alone. But a friend asked my recently if my painting has changed since I am no longer producing for fairs. And yes, it has. "How?", she asked. One obvious way is I never took months to finish a painting. There were deadlines to be met. Booth space to be filled.
Now I am painting subjects close to my heart. I hope I am putting more of my soul into each work.