Friday, February 27, 2015


28 x 24 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas

I did another version of this river in a horizontal format last spring to be included in the Meraki solo exhibit in Trinidad, Colorado. Artists are known to repaint certain themes as Monet did with water lilies and Chartes Cathedral. And Van Gogh with Sunflowers. The theory is artists keep at it until they get it right. But Pablo Picasso not only repeated themes but was known to reuse sketches of some elements from one painting to the next. I save all my sketches and tracings. Sometimes I did a painting with a daytime sky and think I would like it better with a night one. And with Rio Grande Rio, the horizontal composition, I thought I would like it better vertical.

The sky and river poured

It was not quite as easy as merely chopping off the sides of the canyon. It meant deleting some elements and condensing others. And it meant changing some of the colors because of the deletion of the elements on the outside of the other painting. And I chopped off more or the right than the left. I also did not want Glorious to be just an abbreviated version of Rio Grande Rio. I have posted the original river painting below for comparison with the basic elements in the work in progress photo directly above.

Rio Grande Rio
24 x 30 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas

It was at this point I remembered a technique I had used early on in watercolor painting and that was the Chinese technique of applying an underlayment of India ink to facilitate shadows and create depth. In Rio Grande Rio I had used a wash of white to make the far canyon walls receded.

Shadows laid in for depth

I wanted a sunset in Glorious and that meant intense warm colors on the canyon walls. And because of the position of the setting sun stronger shadows. I was also able to define the negative space around the trees.

Laying in the basic colors of the receding hills

Like in Rio Grande Rio I wanted the left side of the river bank to be in more shade than the right, but I also wanted that in the river itself. So darker blues are on the left and more reflections of the sunset in the right side of the river. I have used India ink again to draw in the skeletons of the trees. India ink is waterproof and ergo I can paint over it with watercolor and then the oil sticks.

Trees drawn in

Foliage of the trees and bushes put in and darker colors added to the left bank. The photograph of the painting below at an almost done stage. More details to be added including my signature crows or ravens in the sky. And I added more metallic accents to the rocks and river after this photo was taken. Rio Grande Rio was more "realistic" than Glorious which I painted more to convey an emotion.

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