Friday, February 22, 2013


"Tahoe Blues"  18" x 24"  oil/linen

"Tahoe Blues" was inspired by my recent trip to Lake Tahoe. I was one of the participating artists in the first annual Tahoe Summerfest. I was in Tahoe for four days and had a little down time between events to do some painting and a lot of photography. The thing that struck me most about the lake was the clear water and the bright greenish blue tint. 

Upon my return I reviewed all of my photographs and none of them captured the water the way I remembered. So the painting "Tahoe Blues" is from one of my photos and a small field study. 

This is my photo reference. As you can see the glare from the morning sun kept my camera from recording the elements in the water so I will have to rely on my sketch and my memory to paint the water. Plus the mountains on the horizon are boring so I will punch this area up with better mountains.

A quick sketch before I start painting. A technical note...I usually do the sketch using burnt sienna which is a reddish brown color. Because this painting is going to be predominantly cool in nature I sketched in the elements with a blue color. If I had used the burnt sienna it would have mixed with the paint I put on top and muddied up the color.

Because the foreground boulders are going to be the main focus of the painting I decide to put them in first.
I paint them almost to completion thinking I may need to adjust them once I get the water painted in. Then I begin to block in the underwater rocks. I have no specific pattern in mind and I can't see them in the photo so I am just making up patterns as I go.

 Detail of the rocks.

I paint in the underwater rocks out to the point where they disappear under the surface. I think now I need to go to the distant mountains and put them in then work these two areas of the painting towards each other until they make sense spatially.

After completing the mountains I work the water back toward the mountains, even throwing in some buildings and sailboats right where the water and mountains meet. I begin painting the third design element which is the bank on the right side. I like the way it emerges from behind the foreground elements, then juts out into the lake and points at the mountains. Now I have a really nice "S" shape design that move the viewers eye around the painting.

I have completed the middle ground element, touched up the colors on the the foreground boulders and added some underbrush to the foreground area. Painting complete.


1 comment:

Catherine Twomey said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this Rusty - wonderful instruction and painting.