Monday, April 30, 2012

Step by Step: A Reflection

An artist's journey is solitary. No matter what he says, no matter how many people are around him even when he's working, what is done, what is applied on a surface is his and his alone.

We think we see everything. Yet, I know that is wrong. We don't. Case in point. Make a sketch of a scene and be sure that before you start you also take a photo of it. Do your sketch, painting, whatever and then when you return home print the photo out. Compare what you saw and created then compare that to what the camera saw.  The camera will have captured everything. You saw only the parts you wanted to portray and your mind ignored the rest.

On a long road trip home from the east with a friend, we stopped to look at the Saguaro cactus' near Tucson. They were majestic. After returning home and checking out the photographs, I selected one that I thought captured what we really saw.

I like the warmth of a orange colored underpainting. I have found that that it compliments greens in unexpected ways. So, I painted in the cactus and upper mountains that had many reds, purples and blues even in the morning light. This color was done in orange acrylic paints.

Working back to front, using my oil paints, I added the sky next. I played with the color as the sky in Arizona is quite intense and usually cloudless. I wanted the sky to be almost a blank so that it didn't distract from the interesting shapes of the cactus reaching towards the sky.

Continuing my working back to front, I then added the mountains. It was a tough decision to paint the harsh and stark shadows or to let them be softer and again NOT detract from the cactus. I then began the darker green in each cactus so that lighter colors could be added on top.

The cactus are taking shape and with each color added to them, a fainter similar color was added to the mountains keeping a balance of color. The tallest caucus, that literally goes out of the painting is the star. Extra care was taken with it in detail, shading and color.

Adding in the desert background almost seemed enough. Yet, I had been there just when the flowers were blooming and greens ran riot the few days they will this time of the year. I couldn't get them out of my mind.

But now, I realized it was too green. It may actually be that way, but that is not what we expect from the desert. After trying a variety of colors and shades, I finally made a compromise of gray greens in the background, softened with browns and finally reds that seemed to create a contrast and dimention that I could not get any other way.

This is what my mind saw. NOT, I might add, what the camera saw, but what I felt I saw that moment.

I find it interesting that even though we see, and in this case have "proof" of what was there, we also see internally and feel what was there. This was truly a case of feelings over much of reality.

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