Painting “Mt. Tam” (Part 3)

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DAY THREE: Here's where I ended my day with the commissioned piece I'm painting called MT. TAM. After am hour or so of working on it, I began to turn the corner and think maybe this piece will turn out after all--now I'm finally feeling pretty good about it again. I have lots more to paint, but it needs to dry for several days. The photo on my easel is the inspiration. The problem with my photo, is that I took it when ALL the grass was D-E-A-D. So my photo just shows shades of T-A-N grasses. I'm just making up the color. (NOTE: Do not visit California in September if you are hoping to get lots of photo inspiration for many new, colorful paintings. Unless of course you like to paint brown grass--then it's a great time to visit.) This trip was in 2006 and apparently I'm still bitter about the disappointment. Hmm... maybe I better let that go! 🙂

Here's the painting on my easel this morning BEFORE I got started. I've let this dry since Thursday so it's ready for another layer of color. (Too bad I don't really know what to do! I was hoping I'd have some inspiration as time passed... unfortunately, nothing came to me so I've got to wing it.)

I actually was feeling so UN-inspired about this painting, that I started a new one this week and am pretty happy with that one. It's a similar composition so it will be a companion piece to MT. TAM and it's called AFTERNOON NAP. When I started adding colors to the middle piece of land of this painting, I decided to smooth it out so that it matched AFTERNOON NAP. That actually seems to have been a step in the right direction. I think it was too busy on that hill before and that took the focus off the tree.

After I lightened up and smoothed over that middle hill on the left of the photo, I decided that the top of the main hill (behind the tree) needed to be lighter and smoother. This should help give it the feeling that it's farther in the distance. I also contrasted the shadow under the tree by adding some neon-bright yellow right next to it. Then I basically just went crazy adding yellow grasses next to any area that had green grasses in this section. I did that because those are supposed to be highlight areas.

(Here's my last photo of the day again.) After adding yellow grasses, I added Cerulean Blue--straight from the tube--to all the shadow areas I had already painted. Next I added more green next to the blues I just added. First I paint in blocks of color, but then as I get more areas filled in, I start to put little touches of blue in the yellow and little touches of yellow in the blue. This helps to tie all the scribbly lines together. My end goal is to create a field of vibrant grass on a intensely sunny day. I'm closer today than I was one week ago! I feel good about letting this dry now. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Painting “Mt. Tam” (Part 3)

  1. Three things:
    1. The eventual recipient of this painting loves tan and everything else that’s wonderful about fall. Plus, blue shadow areas are going to be wonderful. I’m sure he’ll be quite pleased.
    2. The eventual recipient cannot get over how cool the water is. The dark water and where it barely touches the lighter sky, the way it’s tucked in behind the hill in the foreground, the intriguing, distant shore on the far side. OH…MY…GOSH!
    3. I love how you’ve strategically placed a blue ribbon in the photos just to the left of the canvas.

    • I love that I can just hear your brain ticking as you examined the painting from your detailed comment. So happy that you are liking it so far! Next week it should be dry enough to make some more progress on it.

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