Friday, February 3, 2017

012717 S 30x24 Turquoise Creek

This painting is based mainly on a plein air painting I did this fall with a couple other paintings for inspiration.  I just love this turquoise creek.  The blue shale of the earth with the gold tinted water from the iron oxides turns the color a lovely shade of turquoise.

I start with a magenta tinted panel and sketch out the "lay of the land" with a brush dipped in cold pressed linseed oil and a mix of cerulean blue and magenta pigments.
In these photos, the ground tint may appear to have a different shade of red due to the lighting conditions which vary from daylight to nighttime.  Sometimes I have the overhead daylight halogen lights on and sometimes I work under natural light in the studio.  I figure working under a variety of lighting conditions guarantees the finished painting will look good in multiple settings.
I start by painting in the darkest values which in this painting are the edges of the creek and then the rocks, moving to the creek banks.
Green foliage on the banks is added.  While it may be hard to see, I have also started adding the red foliage in the treetops.  I like to work wet into wet so I like the fresh wet paint to work with even though the color may be similar to the ground tint.
You can see here where I have added even more red in deeper values to the treetop foliage as well as a background hill. 
I paint in the dominant trees and keep adding to the overall painting.

I mix small amounts of color at a time and when it runs out, I mix a new color so that there is a wide variety of mixes throughout the painting.
Here I start adding lighter values in the background spaces and darker values in the tree foliage.  

A lovely turquoise is mixed with cerulean blue and cadmium yellow light to block in the water.  Cadmium red medium is added to cerulean mix for the darker areas of the creek and white is added for the light areas.


And, finally, the sky, the lightest value, is added.  Mixed from titanium white and cerulean blue, the sky color picks up some of the red of the foliage when it is applied.  

I have also added distant hills and trees in a light, neutral, red mix.
At this point, the entire surface has been covered and I can step back and study what values, edges, lines, etc. need adjusting.  What is working or not working in the basic skeleton of the painting? 
Next is my favorite part of the painting.  I start to add the flickering leaves, foliage, trees, and branches.  I decide how I want the color of the leaves to gradate across the landscape from top to bottom and foreground to background.  

Details reflected in the water start to appear.
More leaves are added across the entire painting.  Branches are both painted in and scratched into the surface.
Leaves tumble onto the creek and more added over the branches, pushing some back and bringing some forward.
Vertical trees are added and really start to define the space.  Twisting tree branches are added throughout the painting.  Ferns and grasses are added to the creek banks.

The dominant trees are pulled back out from the leaves to bring them forward.  The trees I want to keep in the background I let become buried in the flickering leaves adding to the depth and intrigue of the finished painting. 

More colorful leaves are added to refine and define the finished painting.  The most forward trees are pulled back out at the end.

Highlights on the water are added.

And here is the finished painting.  
"Turquoise Creek", oil on panel, 30" x 24", c. 2017 by Charlene Marsh.   

Thanks for following along! 

Happy Trails!


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  1. Thanks for showing the process. Love how it all evolves and your commentary.

    1. Thanks, Jodie. I appreciate the feedback. I like seeing how the paintings evolve, too! Which I don't see when I am working.

  2. It is such a treat to see your process, and read your explanation. Thank you for sharing. The painting is gorgeous!

    1. Thanks, Carrie! I'll send you an email in a bit. Good luck in Tubac!

    2. Beautiful! Do you give workshops?

    3. Beautiful! Do you give workshops?

    4. Beautiful! Do you give workshops?

  3. Hi, Kyle~

    I don't have any scheduled at the moment. You can sign up for my email newsletter and I will announce whenever I add any. Thanks for your comment!