Friday, November 15, 2013

Creative Process - Rio Grande Glory

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
 And after the shore was the sky. The subject is the river and sky and the oil sticks were a perfect enhancement of poured watercolor sky.

Almost complete

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.

1 comment:

I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.