Friday, July 8, 2011


I posted this painting last week right after I finished painting it.

The painting is of the "Lighthouse" which one of the famous rock formations in the Palo Duro Canyon in west Texas. I knew when I did it I was not happy with the slopping hill going to the left from the Lighthouse. I felt it was lacking character and it was taking the viewer's eye away from the main rock formation. Deep down I also know that people who know this formation know that hill does not exist as I painted it. I also felt the sky was too blue for this to be a late afternoon, almost dusk time of day.

I do not know about anyone else, but after spending twelve hours or so working on a painting I tend to look past the flaws because I've got so much time invested in it I almost want to convince myself that it is a good painting, even if it has problems. For that reason, when I finish a painting I put it away out of sight for at least a week then put it back on the easel and look at it with a critical eye.

For one thing I want to see if the things that bothered me initially still bother me. In this case the answer was yes. So now the decision becomes do I fix the problems or does my garbage man have another free painting to take home? Today I chose to fix the problems and the new painting is below.

I hope you agree with my fix. I reworked the slope by adding rocks, bushes and cactus which is more in keeping with what is actually there. By breaking up this slope it keeps the viewer's eye from sliding away from the Lighthouse. I also reworked the sky by adding lots of greens and yellows into it plus some purples and reds toward to lower portion to give it that west Texas dusty sky feeling. I think the changes in the sky really help establish the time of day I was going for. I punched up the yellows and ochres in the cliff going from the Lighthouse to the left to add more of a late afternoon feel.

Being self-critical of one's work is just as important as knowing what colors to mix. Scott Christensen has a great quote when referring to doing large scale paintings. He says, "Ugly is one thing, but big and ugly is bad."

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