Saturday, May 22, 2010

Telephone Canyon - Big Bend National Park

18" x 24" oil on stretched canvas
Please contact me if interested

This piece is done from several photo references taken in January during our trip to Big Bend National Park.  Photos can be a great reference for paintings, as long as they are just that, references.  I don't just copy a photo.  To create my paintings I use the photos to give the viewers a "sense of place."  I want the viewer to feel what I felt.  To see what I saw.  This is Telephone Trail.  It took us at least 40 minutes of driving on a 4 wheel drive road to get to the trail head.  Our car was the only car in the lot.  It was a fun, beautiful hike.  That's what I want to express.

We headed down the trail and had to walk over or around the rocks in the photos below.
It was late afternoon, the sun was really shining on the rocks.  It was geologically a really interesting place.  It was a hiking day, not a painting day, so I took lots of photos.

Now, several months later, I'm ready to paint my expression of the trail.  So, the 2 quick sketches above show how I decided to change the rocks to show motion.  In the bottom real trail photo, I loved the way the rock in the front was so lit up and how long it was.  But, it was too long and too dominant.  So, I started by moving the rocks to suite me.

In this sketch I'm trying to figure out how to put the rocks at the bottom together.  I really like the rock that's about halfway up on the left in the top trail photo.  So, I've moved it down and am trying to get it to work w/ the long rock.

 I like the angle of the left rock and will use it to lead your eye into the painting.

Finally, I get all my ideas together and do a quick value study.  I think it's kind of like a piece of music.  The rocks alone would have been too much percussion.  The bushes are the string instruments.  Together it all works.

Then I did a value study using only Terra Rosa.  Now, I'm ready to paint.  I started the painting using blues for the rocks and gravel and ochres for the bushes, but it was too cool for what I wanted, so, I changed the colors to violets and oranges.  If you hadn't seen the photos, you wouldn't have known.

At the end of the trail were all kinds of rocks to climb on.  A big rock candy mountain!  Once again, when using a photo as a reference, I make it my own, I try to show what I thought was so great about the spot.  I try to share that with the viewer.

11 comments:

Cathyann said...

It was very enlightening to walk through your thinking process. I love the final image. It paid off to do that thinking. This is rich in color and depth. Gret job, Pam.

Gwen Bell said...

Love the zig-zag pattern of the rocks and grass. Your painting is prettier than the real thing!

Love your Daffodil painting too. Those indigo shadows are fabulous next to the yellow!

Dana Cooper said...

I really enjoyed seeing how you progress toward such a wonderful painting, great job...interestingly, my post today was on the same subject...hmmm, great minds...!

Debbi Smith Rourke said...

Love the final painting and very enlightening to see your process. Now to see Big Bend National Park - on our list for this year.

AutumnLeaves said...

Pam, all I can think of immediately is rock candy. I want some. Sigh...it has been a long time since I've had those wonderful sugar crystals! Anyway, I loved hearing your thoughts and your processes in this painting. I am mesmerized by the geometry of the buried rock ridges. I find myself wondering if they are remnants of an old desert city; they look like walls of buildings buried in the dirt/sand. The painting is truly beautiful!

Amy Hillenbrand said...

I'm like Gwen, I think your painter is prettier than the real thing. It's the colors that do it for me, and of course there is your beautiful composition.

Pam Holnback said...

Cathyann, Thank you. It is helpful to do lots of preliminary steps. Although I don't do this all the time!

Thank you Gwen, I'm so glad you saw the zig-zag. It took me several drawings to get that right!

Dana, Glad to know I also have a great mind! Thanks.

Debbi, Thanks. You will love Big Bend. Make reservations at the Lodge (there's only one) early!

Sherrie, Thank you so much. I, too was taken by these rocks, which is why I painted them! And, yes, they do look like building columns.

Thank you Amy, You're right. The colors of the winter foliage against the cool rocks just weren't right!

Bruce Sherman said...

Hi Pam!.... This is my visit to your lovely and invigorating site! I'm impressed... and am now a Follower!

"Oh, what tangled webs we do weave..." to find locations to.... perceive... and paint! HAHA!

Seems we travel parallel paths.... no matter the distance between paths.Thank "You" for sharing insights into your process for your visitors.

Still a "teacher" at heart... and most certainly... still one..."with class"!Take that both ways!HAHA!

Good Painting!
Warm regards,
Bruce Sherman

Pam Holnback said...

Bruce, Thank you for finding and visiting my site. Love your blog and your thoughts!

Nancy B. Hartley said...

Pam, Beautiful painting, and great to see your drawings!

Karen said...

I love the detailed analysis...how you walk us through the sketches and the studies...love to see how other artists put it all together! The finished piece is really beautiful!