View Full Version : Mt Shasta Valley in Winter - WIP
12-28-2004, 01:05 AM
Well the holiday bustle is over...HOORAY!...and I'm finally back at the easel. My goal with this painting is to work on color values to catch the wow of that cold, clear late afternoon witht he mountain looming over the quiet valley. The valley was glowing with warm golden light and the mountain was almost brittle looking, it was so cold and clear rising from the mist. I know there are a lot of things that need attention but, for the moment, I'm worried about the color balance. Advice please???? :(
soft pastels on buff Art Spectrum
12-28-2004, 01:27 AM
My idea would be to pick a color from the bottom of the page, probably a gold, and work into the snow of the mountain and a little in the clouds.
...or work some purples into the forfront.
It seems like two completely different pallettes for upper half and lower, as if it were two different paintings, cut in half.
I like to work the pallette all around. Someone may disagree, but that is my 'theory'.
It doesn't take much to make the difference. Sometimes I take my glasses off and can look at the color without so much attention to detail, and see more clearly what needs done.
p.s...is that your easel out in the field...and if so, where did you go off to...? :)
12-28-2004, 01:53 AM
Thanks Cochisa...yeah, that was my thought too, that it looks like a foreground painting pasted over a background. Maybe pulling some cool tones into the foreground would be a good idea for balance. I'm afraid that putting some warm golds into the snow would warm the mountain and bring it forward. I'm still experimenting here with it.
No that little stick thing is a windmill...prolly should loose it though.
12-28-2004, 02:03 AM
No that little stick thing is a windmill...prolly should loose it though.
I figured. :) I'd leave it...makes for more interest...your call of course.
Did you try the fix with steam yet?
Or is the Art Spectrum that vegetable based paper Julie mentioned?..she said it wrecks that paper...maybe it was de Arches..have to go search.
I have heard, but not tried yet, that once you steam fix the under, you can remove any further work if your not satisfied without disturbing the underpainting.
I painted over my fix with a vigorous brush and dust, and she didn't even smudge a bit.
Maybe try it on a scrap paper first, the color mix that is...and the steam for that matter.
12-28-2004, 02:20 AM
I believe the paper with the vege fibers is La Carte by Sennelier. Art Spectrum is somewhat like Wallis but not quite as strong and not water proof but I'm guessing it will hold up to the steam. I think I will try steaming what I have so far so I can go on and experiment without loosing what I have. I usually use a fixative at this point but that is not smudgeproof so I'm curious to try the steam.
12-28-2004, 03:33 AM
Good for you Mikki. Is that the sanded or normal paper? I used the Wallis for a steam, and it fixes well by spritzing water to it. I left it flat to dry, except for a short few minutes to allow a run to happen. Of course, I would never try this with regular pastel paper. I did apply cloud dust accidently over the CloudDancer...it was dark too. It came off easily with a kneaded rubber ever so lightly pressured.
12-28-2004, 03:43 AM
Mikki...It is so good to see new art!!!! The mountain scene is beautiful!! I agree with Cochisa about repeat of colors to increase the unity of the work.
I too would loses the windmill. :clap:
12-28-2004, 05:07 AM
One of the things that will emphasize the change in temps is distance through atmospheric perspective. Make sure and knock back that snowcapped mountain a lot in value, almost as if you are seeing it through a cold mist. This is going to be a fun one. :)
I love the way you have described this scene, the brittle cold of the mountain and the warm glow on the valley. You have a wonderful start on this painting. I too can see adding some of the purply blues in the midground hills. My other question is about the foreground plain, would the darker orangy brown area be further back at the base of the foothills and the lighter brighter yellow orange that is at the foothills and by the windmill be closer? Just a question I'm not exactly sure if that would create more of a gradual distance or not. I always have to try it to see it. I'm not sure about the windmill either, leaving it in does give the impression of the scale of the mountain range. I look forward to seeing you work on this.
12-28-2004, 12:01 PM
You don't need advice from someone who is landscape challenged! I just want
to say it's beautiful, and will be more so when you tweak it!!
12-28-2004, 12:34 PM
Will be watching Mikki - you've gotten some good advice on how to pull this all together - right now it looks like two paintings. This is going to be a stunner when you get done. :clap:
12-28-2004, 02:33 PM
soft pastels on buff Art Spectrum
You have a very nice image and just a little tweaking will bring it all together.
I agree with the thrust of what others are saying. You just need a little more exaggeration of the 3 planes, fore,middle and background. If it were mine, I'd start by cooling and softening the Shasta and then the middle ground hill.
If the dark on the mountain is a 6 or 7 on a value scale on 10, I'd make it a 4 or 5. The snow shadows would lighten as well, but you can keep good shadow structure by playing the warm vs cool relationship in the snow. Many times snow shadow is almost the same value as snow in light. The seperation between the two can be in temperature and still have the cast shadow work.
Rather than going in the direction of violet on Shasta, try bringing the blue reflection of the sky into the shadows and the overall color of the mountain. The 'red' in the violet brings it too far forward. That would give you room to cool the middle hill and still keep it less prominent than the foreground in hue and value. Also let some of the edge of the mountain and the sky come and go...lost and found. It will help to integrate the sky with the ground more.
On the middle ground hill look for color temp and value that is right inbetween Shasta and the foreground. By the way, I really think the foreground is working well, wouldn't touch it.
Those are only thoughts. It's always a tough call when viewing online. Good luck with it.
12-28-2004, 04:21 PM
Well you are getting advice from someone who really knows so I am going to just watch...this has good potential though and I'm sure it will be great once you work it through.
12-28-2004, 04:41 PM
Lovely painting, Mikki! I always thought Shasta was gorgeous altho it seemed like we always went by it just after dawn rather than afternoon. At that earlier time, the mountain seemed to "float" more, tending to merge with the sky a bit. It looked just as cold and brittle, but ephemeral, as well. I think the advice you've gotten about moving the values closer together are sound. You've got lots here to play with. Enjoy!
12-28-2004, 04:44 PM
Thank you Marc for all that great information. I have been working toward the cooling down but in all the wrong ways I guess because I have been glazing with blues and purples. I made the middle hil shadows cool but kept the golden glow on the front of them. Still way to warm I guess. I also threw some cooler colors into the foreground to attempt a balance. I still have a lot of fixing here but I'm learning a lot about values working on this.
12-28-2004, 05:02 PM
Definitely coming along here, Mikki. It is getting better.
It is interesting to me because you are not only playing with value but you are playing with temperature. I was thinking after I posted before that that is what was really bothering me...the mountain looked wintery and the foreground looked like a summer scene. I know getting the temperature right has always been a problem for me...I know it was an issue with some beach scenes I did over the summer.
You are bringing these closer together and it is starting to look really good.
12-28-2004, 06:07 PM
Good going Mikki.
I think the purples you added in the forfront bring it together...it is hard to see the reality of your painting on the computer screen. Your eye is the final call...as always.
12-28-2004, 06:59 PM
although I'm not an expert on mountain scenes, I tend to agree with Cochisa's impression. I feel there is a need for a gradual transition from the foreground (flat land) to the snow covered moutain. Maybe the hint of pines trees in the mist would help soften the division. I also like the idea of using some of the foreground colors on the base of the mountain which may also help tie the piece together.. Tom
12-29-2004, 12:26 AM
Thanks for all the good comments. I am posting the ref photo. I know, I know, use the photo to start and then paint from the heart but this is a place I know. The pine trees begin in the mist, not in the valley and, unlike the rest of the continent, northern California has it's green season in the winter. Summers are very dry and brown. Also, Mt Shasta soars to 14,000 ft above sea level while the valley beneath it is only 3,000 ft above sea level. This mountain does not "transition", it looms. Shasta is also snow covered year around so it looks the same most of the time except that the top is most often shrouded in cloud cover.
Looking at this ref now, I can see how there is a distinct haze on the mountain. Looking at it in real life that day though it looked crystal clear. Still, the haze would probably provide the atmospherics. Also, I can see where Marc's suggestion to bring down the sky onto the mountain will work nicely if I can accomplish that. Back to the easel...
12-29-2004, 12:49 AM
I've driven by that scene quite a few times. Just beautiful.
It's fun to watch you work out the bugs in this painting--the learning process kinda reminds me of the grape still life you did a few months ago. I'll keep checking in for the latest update and your latest revelation.
So far, it's looking great. The reference photo looks deceptively simple, but you are doing a great job translating it into a work of art.
Mikki...that foreground is a wowzer. I recently did some misty mountains in oil and my suggestion would be to take that pale blue sky color you have on the right and sort of lightly 'glaze' it from the bottom up the mountain. If you allow it to go over the dark areas somewhat it gives the illusion of depth behind the fog. Marc has great advice, and much more experience than I...just familiar with this particular effect after sweating over it for weeks lol. It's going to be a stunner.
Fun to watch the interaction and progress. Looks like it will be pretty dynamic when you are done. Love the support and advice given here. That is nice to experience...will keep a front row seat to learn, learn, learn. :envy:
12-29-2004, 07:41 AM
Thanks for posting the photo, Mikki. What an amazing scene! I can see why you would want to do it.
I see the haze too....and I can also see that although the forground is certainly different from the mountain, it also has a much cooler look than in your first posting...but you seem to be getting closer. And of course it doesn't need to match the photo exactly...just feel right to you.
Good for you for plugging away...as another "plugger" I know it can get frustrating, but it will be worth it in the end!
12-29-2004, 03:38 PM
Mikki, I just love seeing your progress and that you constantly take on challenges. This has some real promise and I think Marc's advice was right on (of course...)
I think there's one basic thing that's happened that I want to point out to you, for future reference only. I see this happening rather frequently when people paint mountains. I think it's because when the mountains are the subject of the painting we get so absorbed in them they just sort of 'grow' on the page... If you lay the two images, the original photo and your painting, side by side the first thing you'll notice is the mountian in the painting fills up the page more. You have effectively cut off the sky overhead, leaving the mountain to fill the space of the paper--understandably wanting it to become the subject. However, in doing that you've removed the grandeur, the giant sweep of the majestic mountain. In filling up the page you made the mountain look smaller! In future if you keep the scale of the mountain in proportion to the rest of the landscape it'll actually end up looking bigger...
I wrote a lengthy article on painting mountains for the PJ--here's a bit of it for you:
In this kind of composition mountains tend to crowd the scene with very little sky or foreground. Oddly enough, these giants become dwarfed in this cramped context of the painting simply because of the lack of context. Instead of massive crags filling the sky, they often appear to be merely high hills. This is because surrounding elements serve to show the grandeur of the peaks. It is the framework of sky and foreground that makes scale apparent, relative to the context. Without other elements to compare to the mountains, the viewer has no grasp of their size and will often assume they are far smaller. By formatting the piece to include bushes, trees, grasses and other elements in the foreground or showing the clouds that often gather over mountain ranges, or by carefully composing with some of all these elements, the viewer has a basis of comparison that helps him to grasp the scale of the mountains, making them majestic in size.
I hope this makes some sense to you--and maybe you can just add it to the banks for later use. I'd take this painting into a program and check the values in black and white if I were you, as I suspect it's all a bit too dark from the distant foreground on up. That mountain in the photo is a looming light--not dark at all!
Have fun and keep at it!! :D
12-29-2004, 03:45 PM
Wow, Mikki, what an amazing photo to work from. I can see your difficulty in establishing the middle ground as there doesn't appear to be any! It will be interesting to see how you handle this - :)
12-29-2004, 04:46 PM
Good progress, and a bunch of great info. Deborah's portion of the article is outstanding...does she write for a living??? :D She paints and writes...what a life huh?
I've taken the liberty to try some things with the piece in photoshop. Hope that's not offensive to you. I cooled, lightened, simplified and softened the edges of the Shasta. I still think that it could be lightened in value(not just whitened but lightened with color as well), but I had a hard time dealing with the middleground hills in PS and my limited skills with it as a program. I over smudged and it became a little soft for reality. The other thing that I did was to 'simplify' the shadows and the light areas on the mountain. At that distance, keeping those areas to a shadow value with little detail, and a 'lit' value with little detail will help to seperate them.
12-29-2004, 09:35 PM
Deborah, I guess I should start listening to my husband. He commented early on that Shasta was too big in the painting. As I look at it now carefully with the ref photo, you are both right. I am going to try to resolve that. Also, the ref was taken from a roadside vista point about 30 feet above the valley floor so the valley has virtually no detail. I was thinking of adding some dead, dried chimisa type bushes to the front edge. It will either help or be a disaster...
Marc, it is always okay to manipulate my paintings digitally as I'm a visual learner and understand better from pictures than the written word. I'm going to go back and re-work the mountain attempting to bring the sky colors into it and working the mist down from the sky and up from behind the hills. Right now the mist is looking pretty solid, more like Tule fog than mist :D .
Thanks all of you for the comments and support.
12-29-2004, 10:19 PM
Go Mikki go- you can do this- I've seen your skill. It's going to be a winner.
12-29-2004, 10:26 PM
The atmosphere adds depth. Its a step in the right direction even if its exaggerated.
01-06-2005, 06:16 AM
Another week has gone by and I'm still struggling with this one. Also I'm being punished for not using Wallis paper. This one is on Art Spectrum and just will not allow me to go back and brush away enough to rework the painting in any satisfactory manner. Which is kinda good because I'm just fiddling now trying to incorporate the great advice I've received here. Per Deborah, I have lowered the mountain and heightened the sky and proved her right because making the mountain smaller made it appear larger (go figure???). Per Marc, I got rid of the lovely purple tones on the mountain and worked it all in blues and proved him correct because the mountain has faded back where it belongs I think. Per me, I faded back the clouds some. They are really intriguing clouds, sort of like a gossamer ribbon twisting through the sky but they look contrived here. I want to do this one over again, maybe larger, and definitely on Wallis paper this time, so let me know what's good and bad (besides the smeary mess) please.
01-06-2005, 09:49 AM
This has really come a long way, Mikki. And I think you (and a lot of us!) learned a lot. It looks good now.
If the clouds bother you maybe soften the edges a bit, but I wouldn't worry too much, especially if you are going to redo it anyhow.
Interesting how well the redos work...sometimes! Well, mine anyhow. I mean the "sometimes" for mine!
01-06-2005, 01:06 PM
Mikki...I have had a long standing debate with others about the pros and cons of being able to so easily reclaim a sheet of Wallis and do another painting on that sheet,,,....Makes me wonder how many great works of art we are missing because the artist wouldn't work through the pain of making it work....But then again...how many great works would have not been seen cause the other supports wouldn't allow the execution of the painting in a more eye pleasing manners.....as always, I am a fence sitter :D
And I agree with Josh...I wouldn' t mind seeing the forground with more intense color...Since you are going to do it over again, push the envelope with this one!!!!
01-06-2005, 03:17 PM
Sandy, I've seen the success you've had re-doing the same subject. I've long suspected there would be great learning benefit from re-doing a work but I've never had a subject I felt was worth another try. I love mountains, the way they soar into the sky, the way God has carved such beautiful sculptures in them and I particularly love the chain of volcanos on the west coast here. I would love to be a painter of mountains so this one is worth another try.
Preston, I understand what you are saying. I tend not to re-use a paper even if the painting is on Wallis and is absolutely terrible. I go back through my works every once in a while and study them for why they didn't work, for what did work, etc. My comment about the Wallis is that I tend to use a lot of very soft pastels like GAW's and Ludwig's and only Wallis seems to be able to take whatever I give it and ask for more. This piece has lost it's tooth because I used fixative several times and it has become so slick I cannot cover my changes well. I'm not tossing it. I'm going to use it as reference for the new painting instead of the photo and see what I come up with.
01-06-2005, 05:55 PM
Preston, I understand what you are saying. I tend not to re-use a paper even if the painting is on Wallis and is absolutely terrible. I go back through my works every once in a while and study them for why they didn't work, for what did work, etc. .
Not a single stroke of the pastel stick is a waste of time...I, like you just said learn what works and doesn't...I cull my works about every 3 months,,,some I keep and some I bless and send to the landfill!!!!! This is going to be great work, know....I am out of Wallis..(Dakota just got my fun money for the next few months)...going to do a full sheet of Canson tonight for he heck of it,,,,,not sure yet what the subject will be...simple shapes are speaking to me tonight... :D
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