"Satin Slopes" 24 x 24" Pastel on sanded paper
After creating the study of Satin Slopes, I challenged myself to paint it in a larger format. Painting larger by any means can be difficult when coming from such a small study, as I have found here. It seems to take on a whole other life of its' own. Kind of like re-telling a story and hoping for the same punch, or "effect" as previously hoped. This can pose a problem for artists who are working on commissions after presenting a study before moving onto the larger, final piece.
I was never good at telling stories. Telling a story and remembering the punch line was for others of greater articulation! Especially when it comes to jokes. Have you ever tried to describe something difficult and failed, leaving your friends wondering what planet you came from? The look of confusion often is the result I get. So, I often resort to drawing it out on a napkin...communicating visually is much more my style. And then that is when they understand what I'm trying to say!
"Satin Slopes" is a piece that draws from my imagination and the California hills in the early Spring. In real life, these hills are so satiny, green and just beautiful under the sun. The green lasts for only a few days before the sun transforms it to the gold that the state is well known for. Here are the stages from which I created this piece.
Here is the underpainting. This time around, I covered the entire mounted paper with a bright pastel. Then, with a paintbrush and turpenoid, I melted the pastel with the wet paintbrush into the sanded paper leaving no specks of white peeking through. This warm underpainting hopefully holds the piece together.
The next step is to get color down on the entire piece, blocking in the color to get the initial composition down. It is applied lightly, only to set the scene.
Defining the distance first, I work on the clouds and most distant hills.
Here I'm establishing the darker values of the trees, making sure the farthest ones are more bluer and lighter. I also placed shadows under the trees and begin to establish the focal point of the piece.
Stepping back to review what I've done so far, I ask for a critique. I find a few things that need work. The shadows are too intense, so I'll need to make them more gray. The farthest hillside is a bit darker than the ones in front making it seem more forward. I'll need to grey that one down a bit to push it farther away. And the first mound of green looks too perfect. So adding a few shrubs to break up that perfect arch might do the trick as well as to help out the composition a bit. I'm aiming for that "S" composition here, so adding a few shrubs in that arch will help to lead the eye into the piece.
Please feel free to comment!