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Posts tagged ‘smoke’

It’s been a struggle

This painting has had many iterations. I’ve thought it was finished twice before. It started as a reaction to the devastating forest fires in California and slowly morphed into a view of Mt. Etna, first on the left side of the painting, and then on the right. You could say it’s been a struggle.

First, the California fires …

Afterglow

True, it was mostly about the smoke and the red glow in the sky, but it needed a focus.

Next, Mt. Etna on the left …

Mt. Etna

That was better, but I still didn’t like the divisions in the sky.

So… finally …

Fading Light 24×30 Acrylic on raw canvas

Now, instead of just emphasizing the fiery sky, I beefed up the mountain on the right, pushed it back with the smoke and emphasized the fading light with the title.

It took two months start to final finish. What a struggle!

Shows you what I know …

Back in November, I thought I’d finally finished a fiery painting prompted by the California wildfires and a recent visit to Sicily: Afterglow. There were hours and hours of painting reds, and blues, and Payne’s Gray. And then I finally added many more layers of gray and white to make the mist. I liked it. I thought it worked. It hadn’t turned out as I originally intended, but that’s often the case. I thought it was done. Shows you what I know!

Here’s the original painting.

Afterglow 24×30 Acrylic on raw canvas

I took a picture of it and posted it on my website. But every time I looked at it, something was bothering me. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Plus I was really tired of working on it. So I shrugged and put it away. And started working on the next painting: Misty Morning.

Whenever I come back from a vacation trip I always return with hundreds (thousands?) of photographs and lots of ideas for new paintings. My recent trip to Sicily was no exception and the slopes of Mt. Etna were inspirational. Misty Morning was started. I liked the colors in an earlier Mt. Etna painting (Before the Rain) so I decided to repeat them (sorta). The slopes of Mt. Etna were a purplish black with patches of drying yellow oxide grasses showing through. In Misty Morning, the black and yellow oxide were more evenly balanced and hard edged. And therein lay the problem: it didn’t look like something in nature; it looked like a graphic poster, too stylized. I tried softening some of the edges, but I couldn’t seem to make a dent in the overall effect. (Have I mentioned recently that watered down acrylic on raw canvas is very unforgiving?)

The only solution I could think of was to intensify the mist to soften most of the edges. (BTW, I’ve spent many hours studying the mist that often partly obscures the Palisades Cliffs outside my window in the morning.) And, many many layers of watered down titanium white later, it worked.

Misty Morning 24×30 Acrylic on raw canvas

Now that’s what one of Etna’s slopes looked like on a misty morning. Success!

But that success made me go back and rethink my previous painting, Afterglow. And I suddenly knew what I had to do: make the smoke more prominent, more like the mist in Misty Morning.

Easier said than done, of course. But many layers of thinned titanium white later, the smoke in Afterglow pulls it all together. Whew.

Afterglow 24×30 Acrylic on raw canvas

And I had thought it looked finished before. … Actually, I’m not sure it’s finished now. Shows you what I know.