Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Marsh Sunset

I think it's done. It's been on my easel silently berating me for about a year, since
I abandoned it after a one-day lay in to establish the color and composition. It's a pretty simple idea, but because of that a little scary to pull off. Sunsets are of course gorgeous, but it's far too easy to get all dewy-eyed about them and make pretty work. This is also the first larger piece I've completed since the Costa Rica Road Cut, and I really, really, really didn't want to step backward from that approach.

Mostly what this is about is how the foliage in the marsh reflects the sky. That's a little tough to see in the full light of day, but obvious in dimmer light. I was surprised, though, by just how much it reflects. My color mixtures for the ground are essentially the same as for the sky, just shifted a little darker, except where it's really reflective (the water, the sand).

I also had fun with painting the sky. Mostly I try to stay with opaque colors since I change my compositions so much as I go along, working transparently would really inhibit me. I needed a transparent effect of red in the sky, though, since the color really isn't mixable otherwise. I used to make my glazes by just adding a ton of medium to a transparent color and applying it like a stain. I've learned that this is wrong-headed (thanks, Rob!) and so I did the glaze a bit differently this time. I started by laying down a thin coat of my oil/chalk medium, then putting a stroke of full-strength Alizarin Crimson across the lower sky (slightly scary, but fun), and then rubbing it with rags and the heel of my hand until it was the right shade. It's a great way to apply color--physically fun, but also really controllable and the color result is somehow richer than that obtained by thinning the paint chemically. A game-changer for me.

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