It’s a cloudy, cold day today, so I stayed in my “studio” to paint. Looking through my digital photo library, I came across of photo of a rock formation taken at the “golden hour“, ie the time of day when the sun is low on the horizon, creating warm, golden light. My favorite.

Here’s my “studio” setup, my MacBook connected to a TV, palette, easel. I choose to sit today, often I’ll stand (so I can step back). If I sit and paint I simply lower my glasses (I’m near-sighted), and that blurs the image enough to see the big shapes and color masses abstractly. It still helps to stand once and while and see the painting from about 8-10 feet away.

I started with the rough sketch, in which I identified the main masses and the shadow areas. I did need to make some adjustments from the photo to the sketch. A mass here and there, but the big change was the foliage. The photo had some old dead grasses/bushes in front of the rocks, and I found they blended in too much with the scene, so I changed them from orange/reds to greens. Don’t be shy about changing a scene to fit your needs!

This is my palette for the wash, in which I use all transparent colors, alternating warm/cool variations to tone the canvas. I used Hansa Yellow, Hansa Yellow Orange, Rose Madder, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Veridian Green and Sap Green. There’s not much attention to values here or accuracy of local color. I want some bright, clean transparent color to show in the painting where needed. I like this “watercolor-like” start because transparent colors (whether light or dark) against the white linen make for an light-filled effect (I learned this technique from Ovanes Berberian).

Here’s the start of the painting after the wash stage.

I took a break to let the wash dry a bit (20-30 minutes) before continuing, to avoid creating mud when I add subsequent layers. Here’s my drying method–just place the painting in front of a space heater!

Here’s the final painting, “Rock Formation at Coyote Hills”. This will go “in the oven” to dry. Happy Painting!

Coyote Hills Rock Formation – Oil on Linen – 11×14


2 thoughts on “Golden Light, Coyote Hills

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