Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Last week I posted a freshly completed painting called
"Canyon Floor" (see below).

"Canyon Floor" 24" x 30' oil/linen

As is my custom I put the painting away
out of sight for the past week and pulled it out
this morning to give it a fresh look. After fighting
back whatever was creeping up my throat, I placed
it on the easel, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat
back about ten paces from it to give it a look over.
After a few minutes of honest evaluation I decided it
needed to be rekeyed. Rekeying a painting just means
the values and color are off in a few places and need to
be corrected.

Having to rekey a painting is fairly common when you
have been away from your subject matter for awhile or have
been painting in the studio more than being outside, which
right now, as cold as it is outside, is understandable. And
its not like Canyon De Chelly is right around the corner so
I am relying mostly on my field sketches for color.

I also decide I didn't like how the dirt road makes a sharp
right turn into the painting from the left side so this area is
going to have to be reworked a bit. I like the sky and I like
the cliff and lead-in foreground on the right so these will
remain as is. I'll rekey the rest of the painting based on the
colors and values in the areas I've decided to leave untouched.

Below is the newly rekeyed painting.

Here they are side by side. Notice the huge difference in
the distant cliff. Also notice the ground cover and slow bend
I put into the road on the bottom left side to eliminate the
sharp turn in the previous version.

Below are some details.

Detail of the distant cliff.

Detail of the road.

Today I am happy with the change. Tomorrow I may not be.
This painting will now go back into the closet. I will pull it
out in a week and go through the same evaluation process
to determine if the painting is worthy or not. Paintings
must earn their place into a frame and onto a wall.
A completed painting has no rights. It is a privilege
to be placed into a frame and sent to a gallery.
Most paintings are happy just to be taken out of the
closet. To be put into a frame...well that's living it big!


Ann Rogers said...

I would have given the first version a thumbs up, but on seeing the newly keyed painting, I now give it two thumbs up. Beautiful painting, hope it becomes worthy of a frame!

Rusty Jones said...

Thanks Ann. Yea I agree with you. I liked the first version, but the rekeyed painting is sublime.

Douglas Clark said...

I loved it the first time and it is even better now. I have a question about color. I notice the foliage near the front and on the cliff in the far back is green the trees on the canyon floor (the mid ground?) are gold. Is this based on what makes the strongest painting visually or on the type of foliage

Rusty Jones said...

Douglas. The answer is both. There's a time in early October at Canyon De Chelly when the trees are turning you get both bright green and bright yellow trees. The trees on the floor get more sunlight and turn yellow earlier than those in the shadows. I painted the yellow trees because I thought the yellow was a nice compliment to the purplish hills.