Monday, August 18, 2014

The Rio Grande River - My View

This past Spring I visited Big Bend National Park with the sole intent to create as many "color studies" as I could.  In the 5 days there, I spent almost as much time driving (it's a really BIG park!) as I did painting.  One never knows what kind of weather conditions will be encountered but out of all the trips I've made to this magnificent remote corner of West Texas, the weather while I was there was perfect; clear skies, no wind, 80 degrees.....a plein air painter can't ask for much more than that!

This location is along the Rio Grande north of Terlingua, Texas at a tourist attraction known as the Contrabando Move Set. This is looking easterly with the sun about 10 o'clock high which created a "back lit" view of the cliffs across the river on the Mexico side. 

I want to share the "before & after" of this painting. I rarely make any adjustments until I can get it back into the studio....and upon review back in the studio, I seldom make any changes; the purpose for working on location is to record accurate color, values and capture the "atmosphere". So, having said all that, the first image ("Before") is without any adjustments in color, value or composition changes.  Very often, when looking "into the sun" for 2 hours, it literally makes you unable to "see".


"Up River View - The Rio Grande"
9x12 Oil on Paper

In the studio I could see where adjustments were needed in value as well as intensity of color.  The cliffs in the "before" image were too strong in color as well as value so I "grayed" the color to soften them.  Changing the cliffs made it necessary to rework the foreground a little by muting the colors to a darker value and raising the value in the mid-distance so the willows appear to be in full sun.  I also changed the tree color in right foreground to be less "orange" and set them more in shadow.  I'm still not sure I'm finished with this one, but it's getting there.  I'll set it aside for a few days then look at it again with "fresh eyes".  I think this painting could be my reference for a larger studio piece....we'll see!