Monday, March 25, 2013

Storm Over Kolob - Study

Storm Over Kolob- Study; 8" x 10" - oil by Greg Newbold
I am undertaking what is to this point the largest oil painting I have ever done. I set a few goals this year for my art and one was to finally begin to do "epic" size work. For me that meant anything bigger than 32" on a side.  The subject for this first large painting is that moment of fading light and cloud I witnessed at Kolob Canyon on a 30" x 40" canvas. The inspiration for this painting was a study started on site as the last painting in my southern Utah painting trip with Richard Hull last fall. We had about 35-45 minutes to paint and the lighting conditions were shifting so much that I really didn't get much more than a rough block-in. I did like the basic structure of the scene including the storm clouds. I was struck also by the way shadows crept quickly up the vista and completely obscured the light in a matter of about five minutes at the end of the day. I was scrambling to  capture something in the fading light but then resolved to do the scene justice later.

Well later is right now. Along with my photographs, I used my on site study as the under painting for a more resolved piece. Some plein air purists will cringe at this but I figure that I really didn't capture anything more worthwhile than some color notes and basic structure, so I had no qualms painting right over it. If you follow my blog, you'll note that most of my plein air studies are polished up in the studio anyway. After the study was more or less resolved, I transferred the painting design to the canvas using a grid system. My canvas was a pre-stretched number that I thought would save me some time preparing. As I applied several coats of gesso, since I really dislike the mechanical weave of factory canvas, I noticed that the tightness of the canvas was not to my liking either. I removed the staples from two sides and pulled another quarter inch of slack out of the fabric. I didn't save any time and now I think I may have to start stretching my own canvases in order to get what I like.

Storm Over Kolob-Work In Progress; 30" x 40" oil on canvas
With the drawing laid in. I gave two light coats of a reddish brown acrylic to stain the surface and seal in the drawing. I used a damp sponge rather than a brush. Acrylic allows me to get painting almost immediately since the gesso coats seal the surface and the tint coats are really thin. This progress shot is about halfway through the block in phase. After the canvas is all blocked in, I will make another pass over the entire piece and then I will probably have one last session to bring up any highlights that need to be pushed or glaze back any shadows that want to go deeper. for me, a canvas this large feels like a lot to chew on, but I am having fun and it seems like it is coming together well. I am glad I took the time to do a good small study though. I have about a week to get this thing singing- wish me luck!


Brad Teare said...

Another sweet painting! Those red rocks agains green sage are hard to paint. You did a great job!

Mike Blake illustration said...

I can already see that it is turning out great and will end up even better! Look forward to the completed painting.

Greg Newbold said...

Thanks Brad and Mike. It's a challenge to scale up this big when I am used to painting small, but I am having fun.

Amy said...

The big painting is going so well! Looking forward to the completion. (And do we get to keep the study?)

Greg Newbold said...

Amy, I think we should keep the study. We deserve to have some of my art left over, right?