Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shakin' it up

Here's a new one, new in a lot of ways. It has been quite a while since I've posted, because I just haven't had much to say. Last year I cranked out a lot of work at first, then in summer cut back to do larger stuff and concentrate on marketing, and in the fall started thinking/studying/planning work in different media.
Here's a first look at a new acrylic I have started.
This is Fremont Pyramid, Pyramid Lake, NV, in the morning looking south. It will be 24 x 32, on canvas temporarily mounted on board.
Google Earth: "The Pyramid"; "Anaho Island"
I'm looking at this one in five zones, rather than the usual three. Each is distinct, and needs a specific treatment: far and near background, middle ground, far and near foreground.
Centers of interest in order of precedence are the pyramid and island, the little peninsula below, the Squaw and Basket in the upper left middle ground, and finally the shadow area on the lower left.
I'm working up the far foreground now. The middle ground work is pretty much done. I'm also in the middle of a radical change in treatment for the background, due to the way acrylic handles.
Acrylic is different. Kind of midway between watercolor and oil, it has some aspects of both, and a few quirks all its own.
For instance, watercolor allows these big wet flowing washes, and nice smooth gradations from paper white to a dark-dark if you time it right.
I haven't figured out how to do that with acrylic. Thin, transparent glazes are possible, but achieving a graded wash with acrylic is beyond me right now. Acrylic dries so fast that blending a nice smooth gradation from one value to another in opaque color is tough too. That water took a long time, and I think it will need a few more glazes to give it some depth, although the lake really is that milky turquoise.
I'm in the process of making a big change in the far background. I painted it first in apparent colors, kind of a gray blue, with a touch of violet, but it just never seemed right. Now I'm gambling that I can make it look more realistic by repainting the background range in the color it would be if I were close, then I'll use a blue glaze to fade it into the distance.
Anaho Island is in the near background and is just a touch grayer and bluer than the Pyramid. I painted the two features with the same colors, but the island has a thin blue glaze over it that worked perfectly to set it back a bit into the distance. So I'm not totally crawling out on a limb with the background mountain range.
What acrylic does allow, and this is the critical property for choosing this medium, is that I can overpaint light on dark. Those shadows in the near and far foreground are finicky because the whole area is a jumble of jagged rocks, sand and sagebrush.
One more note: I think that wierd dome shape in the nearest foreground will go away. It looks cool in my reference photos, but it just doesn't fit in. Likely will become foreground rocks, sage and grasses.

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