Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Grotto

"The Grotto"
9x12 acrylic on canvas on hardboard
Available through DPW gallery/auction

This painting is from a photograph done by artist Gina Lancaster Duncan and she most graciously granted permission for me to paint it. She does many wonderful photographs and artwork - she has a wonderful artist's eye. I was so pleased when she said yes as this scene really "spoke" to me. You know how that goes as an artist - you see something & it speaks to your soul & you just need to paint it. This image was one of them - it exists somewhere in Ohio, so it's not a place I can get to quickly.

While I worked on this, I had to keep telling myself "impressionistic" to stop me from trying to put in countless details. I worked with 2 or 3 different sized brushes & blocked in shapes of color with them. The beautiful blues & purples in this scene were a part of Gina's photograph, I left them in & enhanced them further - also added more areas throughout the painting to pull it all together. It's funny how I work with landscapes. Whatever the object is that I am painting at the moment, I tell myself to think of the object only while I paint. A line from the movie "GroundHog Day" always pops into my head, when Bill Murray says "be the hat" when tossing cards into a hat with Andie MacDowell. I say "be the rock" or "be the tree" to myself & chuckle - but it's true, focus on the object and your brush will bring it to life.

I had finished all the shapes last night & worked on some of the darker darks then. This morning, in the new sunlight, I worked on highlights. But I also did some tonal adjustments. All of the greenery that is seen under the stone arch is actually further away from the viewer. But my painting had it as the same tone as the foreground - which gave the painting little, if any, depth.

Objects further away from the viewer need to be more obscure, more faded in color, less intense & with less details. How to achieve? Washes of white over the greens under the archway - but the trick is to put the white wash on, wait a second or 2, then blot it off. It'll leave a residue of the white in place, but not be so bold as to cover all the color. If it's not enough dulling, then do the process again once the first layer is fully dry. Too much dulling? Dab water onto the residue & blot it up with a paper towel. Just make sure your base paint is absolutely dry to do this process, otherwise you will lift the paint below. Also, not too much water & not too hard rubbing. This is a technique that I love to use with acrylics & it works quite well to tone down an area that is too vivid.

I love how this painting came out & I have it up for auction over at DPW. I think I may work on another waterfall subject - it's been a while since I did them. I forgot how magical they are!


Sea Dean said...

I see two faces around the waterfall. For some reason this is more common around waterfall paintings than other landscapes. I love the colour. Another trick for dulling is using the complimentary which I use a lot. :)

CrimsonLeaves said...

Absolutely stunning piece, Nan! Love how the bridge above mimics the rocks and how gorgeously you've aged it. The trees and greenery are beautiful and the fall of water is breathtaking. I do love the violets you left in the piece so much!


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