Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monument Valley *UPDATE*

Where the West Was Won, 12X16, oil/linen panel

Monument Valley Backlight, 12X16, oil/linen panel

Added to the Monument Valley painting was a mounted rider who has stopped just to admire the view. Monument Valley is widely known as the backdrop to some of John Ford's classic western movies such as "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" starring John Wayne. That's why I decided to rename this painting "Where the West Was Won".


Hi Everybody,
this painting was done as a result of my trip out to Jackson, Wyoming. On the way, we drove through Monument Valley. The artist reception at Trailside Gallery was the next day, so I didn't have time to set up and paint. But I did manage to take some great photos of the area. This setting was right behind a roadside Navajo stand, where they set up and sell their arts. So much of the jewelry and pottery is beautiful, and I'm a sucker for turquoise jewelry anyways, so, I usually end up leaving with something (so does Ann, bless her heart).

As I've mentioned before, I love painting backlit subjects, and these sandstone formations are no exception. When you see rock formations in the distance, you are looking through the veil of atmosphere that is between you and it. This veil flattens out and minimizes the values and definition of such formations. It's important when you paint these, to keep your values close and remember to paint the planes you see. A vertical plane catches less light than a flat plane, so it needs to be painted darker. But if you paint this area with just one color, such as blue or grey, you will not achieve the illusion of depth. It's important to mix warms and cools in those shadows. Just as important as doing it in the lights. You just need to keep them closer. Also, there is a natural color difference in color in this type of stone. It's important to pay attention to these subtle changes. I make sure to simplify the rock formations in the distance. It's sooooo easy to get lost in the detail that you see, but don't fall for it. You'll be much better served if you pick out a few defining cracks and crevices. Keep your detail in the foreground and allow the detail to fall away as your distance increases. It's the way our eye sees, and it's the way to fool the eye into believing it's seeing depth in a two dimensional surface. If you do these things, your paintings will have the atmospheric perspective that is much more believable. And in the end, you will have a painting, not just a copy of your photograph. Use your photos for the shapes and selective detail, but never be a slave to it. Make compositional changes to make your painting better. Nobody cares if that bush or that tree was painted exactly in the place you put it. What matters is, for you to end up with the best painting you can!

Thanks for looking, Steve


Prints On Canvas said...

very nice painting And your think is so good. !!!!!!!

Tim Fitzgerald said...

Hi Steve
My wife and I Love Monument Valley in my opinion more striking than the Grand Canyon. The colors are wonderful and for me with the horizon line flat off in the distance is much easier than trying to figure the complicated below ground horizon line. How do you cope with that problem? At the coast here in N.C. we get stuck in a rut with the flat vista.
My wife also feels that a person can't get enough turquoise jewelry.
Wonderful painting by the way!!
Tim Fitz

Gracia Molloy said...

Gorgeous painting and I truly appreciate your insightful 'tips.'
I used to live in Sedona and paint on location in that area, so can really relate to what you are saying about the lighting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that.

Your paintings are inspiring and uplifting in a way that is much appreciated. I aspire to wish that my artwork could one day touch others as effectively as what your work is able to do.
I am truly humbled and grateful for having found your website so I can share it with my painting pal. Her name is Evelyn and she is still going strong at 82. We love looking at websites like yours because it inspires us to spend time in our studio having fun with our paints.
"God bless you."
Gracia Molloy