Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Cliffs at Platte Clove

Hey everyone, I'm back posting after a long break. Since my last solo show at the Royal Gallery I have been trying to improve my work by more studying and experimenting with new processes. Recently I have been taking a figure painting class at the Academy of Realist Art in Boston. They have a great atmosphere there and wonderful instructors. I will eventually post my male figure from there once I finish the back ground.

Besides my work at the ARA I have spent the last month in the Catskill Mountains drawing and painting with the Hudson River Fellowship. We have entered into a pretty rigorous daily work schedule of waking up at quarter to 6 a.m. and painting till sunset, along with painting the sunset. I have numerous drawings and painting to show you all but I'll post them at a later time.

The Cliffs at Platte Clove is one of the first paintings I completed on this trip. The Painting was done on a masonite panel I prepared at home and painted on location in two days.

My View of the Cliff

I started the painting blocking in the drawing with a half and half mixture of Burnt Umber and Burnt Siena. For the most part I worked the paint into panel with a dry brush and for the washes I mix the paint   with a little mineral spirits from my brush cleaner.

My Underpainting in Umber
I took a quick break to let the under painting set up am dry before I started to paint over it in color.

First lay-in of the Background

The background was laid-in with a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Naples Yellow to achieve an atmospheric base to work into later once my foreground subjects have been addressed. This was a fairly thin layer of paint so that bits of warmth could show throw and create some more interest to the eye.

Lay-in of the Foreground
At this point I would like to note that from the time I started the drawing to lay-in of the foreground the lighting had changed drastically. Essentially I started drawing in over cast conditions and now I'm noticing patterns of dappled light dancing all around the rocks. I'm realizing at this moment that these are experiences I would have missed if I where to just snap a photo and go along on my way. Because of these new influences on my subject I have to start making decision on what will be in the painting.

Modeling the forms of the Lay-in
At this point in the painting I decide to call it a day and pack it in till tomorrow. I have noticed and observed many changes throughout the day and I prepare to capture them when the come back around in day 2 of the painting. One thing I noticed was the reflected light was very warm in the morning and as the sun pasted over head the green of the moss bounded right into the shadows cooling them down considerably. Also my once cool atmospheric background became bright yellow towards the end of the day. All this and more to consider when I return to finish this painting.

Start of the Second Day
After sleeping on the ideas I came to the conclusion that I like the scene at mid-day. At this time of day there was still the background I like and I could have the best of both world with a little green reflected light creeping into my warm shadows. 

Modeling Moss
After laying down a base color of the rock I could next add the darker bits of moss growing from and around the cracks of the stone.

Light on the Tree
There was a moment where light was hitting the tree just right. I decided to stop what I was doing and paint the light effect While I had the chance.

Painting the Foliage
With a tiny brush I painted each leaf one stroke at a time paying close attention to the shape, character and direction hoping to ad life and motion to the rather still scene. Along with painting the foliage I started bouncing around the painting trying to refine and finish what I could.

The Final Shot
Thank you for visiting and stay posted for more work from my time at the Hudson River Fellowship.


  1. Very nice demo, love the rock formation and handling of the background, for a simple design it really has a lot of impact.

  2. Well, since nobody else has made a "that painting rocks" pun, I may as well.

  3. Thanks Jim and Thanks Dave. Dave I was wondering if you sold the bear protection kit separate from the pochade box or do I have to get roped in to buy to whole thing? We could really use it up here in the Catskills.

  4. Ohhh amazing!!! great job!! I like to see the process of you oil painting, I will add you blog I like watch it.