Thursday, January 3, 2013

Northern Exposure (30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge: Day 2)

Northern Exposure, 
Watercolor on Winsor Newton #140 Cold Press Paper, 8"h x 10"w, 2013 #2


Day 2 for the "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge -- so far, I am still hanging on there (ok, barely)... This painting has been putting aside for a while since I started it last year, and worked on it off and on for a couple of months. It looks a very simple scene of sunset in the big sky country of eastern Texas at the beginning of winter. In the reference photo I took, there is almost nothing in the foreground, but the intense color near the horizon just kept me coming back to it. I could not think of a center of attention that would add interest to the foreground and link it to the sky, yet does not detract from and compete with the beautiful sunset colors that first drew me into painting this picture. I did a couple of smaller (5" x 7") studies to work out the problem, but none of them come out to my like. So it went into the drawer of unfinished works for a while.

Today I took it out and decide to give it a go. I strengthened the foreground shadow colors, leaving only one rim of light separating foreground and background mountains. Then I took out my rigger and had some fun with groups of branches, adding dark shapes with dry brush work on top of them to make them read as "trees". They added some linear elements to this big-wash painting yet because of their dark values, merge well with background mountains and clouds and do not attract the eyes directly to themselves from the bright sunset colors of the sky. Is this the best solution to the problem? I do not know. But I think it is one of the possible solutions and worth trying out. It is definitely better than being halted by fear of ruin a half-finished work and never attempt to work it out!

This experience has taught me something indeed -- one of the most important values of these fast paced daily painting sessions is to free a painter from his/her attachment with his/her work, and encourage him/her to experiment more, working out problems, knowing if a piece of work did not turn out as well as he/she has wished, it is only a day's work wasted, and tomorrow is a new start.

...Certainly a valuable enough lesson for me and worth all the time I am spending carrying it out!

You can purchase my 2013 wall and desk calendars here:


  1. Wow excellent post ever seen.
    really its beautiful.
    Canvas Art Painting

  2. Hello Arena:) I understand why you kept going with this painting. So beautiful. Great job on the colors, the trees, the birds and the reflections. Very nice!!


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