Monday, May 18, 2020

Early Summer on Three Creeks Lake

“Early Summer on Three Creeks Lake”
(Oregon Cascades)
Oil on Raymar L64C Oil PrimedPanel
12” x 24”

Private Collection

After I had cut my way back into Oregon (here), in early June 2018, at the end of my year long journey back from Minnesota, it still was another two weeks before I returned to my base of operations. During this time I further explored, places I had been to before, and also new areas. One of the latter was Three Creeks Lake, about 16 miles south of the town of Sisters. Later in the year I received a commission to paint Three Creeks Lake. Of course the view that was ultimately desired, I had not discovered on my one time there, so had no reference photos to hand, and it was too late in the year to get up there, as Winter had already begun at that altitude.

So it was the following Summer that the photos were finally taken.  I went up there twice in 2019, and it was on the second trip that the perfect photography day occurred, with the early morning light and then the right amount of interesting clouds casting shadows across the landscape. Half my life seems to be taken up with waiting for cloud shadows to move while on photo-recon, but sometimes the day has just the right amount of cloud, and this day was one; the bonus was that the clouds were also interesting. The painting was worked on throughout the Autumn, and finished in January. It's always surprising to me, how long it takes to paint the various areas of a painting. You'd think I'd know by now. In this work, the foreground (everything on this side of the lake), took longer to complete than the whole rest of the painting! When I started on the foreground, I figured I was almost done with it, thinking it would take about half as long as it actually did … the eternal optimist. Nevertheless, it was an interesting piece to do, thanks to the perfect photo-reference day.  

The Imprimatura & Drawing
The Block-in

The Imprimatura and the Drawing took most of the day to do. The bit of blue sky in the photo was part of the Block-in phase, begun the next day; I just forgot to photograph it before I started on the Block-in. Two afternoons were spent on the Block-in. The first afternoon's Block-in was spent mostly on the sky, and the rest of the landscape on the second. If I had been in my studio, and painting far into the night like I used to do, it would have been blocked in, in a day. But painting next to a lovely Autumn creek out in the Wild, under natural light … well, those Autumn days are getting shorter (the Autumn creek is incidental to the story).

In the pigments list below, I mention using Genuine Lapis Lazuli. It is not an affectation. Oh, the first tiny tube I got on my 30th birthday, from Winsor & Newton, might have been, except that I wanted to see what the Old Masters had used for their finest blue. However, it was Oil, and I painted mostly in Watercolour in those days, so I never used that one; it's still good, however, and I will use it eventually. But when I bought the Michael Harding Lapis, the size of tube was such that I had no qualms about trying it out; it was also not that expensive for what it was! I first used it in a painting commissioned by a Middle Eastern Potentate (no not the obvious one ... there are others), through the Federation of British Artists.  I first used it as a glaze, but where it excels is in mixtures within the landscape … I can only describe it as a soft blue colour, not very powerful, which mixes well with the quieter landscape colours, especially in the distance. I kind of liken it to the Lead Whites, which mix so well with the colours on your palette, that you don't have to worry about it, unlike Titanium which is cold, powerful and opaque, and readily lends itself to chalkiness if care is not taken. I pity the poor European artists these days, who are stuck with only Titanium to paint with … if they have a mind to paint like Rembrandt they will never achieve it with Titanium; poor sods. But I digress. Let me just say that using Genuine Lapis Lazuli, for some applications, allows quicker and easier results, than the stronger, man made Ultramarines. Make no mistake, I use the manufactured Ultramarines for most things when those blues are needed, but the Lapis has found its place on my palette. And by the way, I do use Titanium, sparingly, when a strong, opaque white is needed.

The Pigments used in the painting are:
Imprimatura & Drawing: W&N Venetian Red;
Pigments: W&N: Cobalt, French Ultramarine & Ultramarine Deep Blues, Cadmiums Yellow Pale & Orange, Venetian Red;
Rublev: Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna, Lead White #1 & #2;
M. Graham: Cobalt Teal;
Gamblin: Permanent Magenta;
Michael Harding: Genuine Lapis Lazuli.

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