|Santa Elena Canyon 9x12 oil|
Santa Elena Canyon. This may be one of the most painted spots in Big Bend. You can see it from miles away as a notch in the long blue ridge of huge cliffs standing above the desert floor and running along the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. It presents very different aspects depending on time of day, light quality, and angle of view.
I love painting "gray" subjects because they offer the opportunity to push color once you tune in on the subtle temperature shifts in the light and shade. If you just jump right in and start painting light shapes and dark shapes, you can get a nice value arrangement, but you're likely to miss all that's going on with the color.
I like a painting to be either dominantly light or shade, and then, I like to place the greatest color variety in one or the other. Placing it in both seems to set up a visual conflict, and loses the beauty found in the subtle hues. This one keeps asking me to do a larger version, to take advantage of the lovely shadow colors contrasting with the brilliantly lit rock.