Brazos Cliffs Commission

Some good friends surprised me by commissioning a painting for their house in San Francisco. They went through my photographs and chose two for consideration, I then made a reference print at the size of the finished painting so they could put them up and think about it. Once they decided which of the two (they were both hard) I got to work.

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The finished painting in their house (18 x 38 unframed)
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The initial drawing
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The foreground was highly detailed, but the sky was demanding wet on wet, so i started there, as if it didn’t work, i didn’t want to have wasted time on the foreground.
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This is the first pass of the big wash for the virga clouds. unfortunately, the roll of watercolor paper is was using had holes in the sizing (see detail in next image) and i realized i was going to have to start over.
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The little holes are where the sizing in the paper didn’t hold up and allowed more paint in little circular areas in the sky, leaving these dark spots. So, that happened…
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Starting over here. i waited to do the detailed foreground drawing until i got the sky to behave.
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The first big dark wash of the sky is in…
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Beginning the foreground – the sky isn’t finished, but far enough along to get on with things i figured. mostly i’m putting in shadows, and the orange is frisket to hold out the light areas. I’ll remove it once I get the next covering wash in.
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An overall wash for the foreground ridge on top of the shadows.
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Right about now is when it feels a little overwhelming and terrible
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This image is a little too dark, but i am putting in more detail in foreground and trying to delineate all the complexity there.
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Again, a little dark, but more work in the sky, and some adjustments like reducing the intensity of the orange in the sky, and more light and dark areas of the foreground, so the little meadows and stands of trees show up.
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The final painting. i went in and used a little gouache here and there, especially to bring back the aspen trunks.
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3 thoughts on “Brazos Cliffs Commission

  1. Barbara McGuire

    Turned out really well, despite the false start. Love the gentle virga. Such a hallmark of NM!
    How did the Sausalito show go? More fun than profit or vice versa?

    Like

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