Two years have passed since I last painted Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. I stood on the exact same spot where I had stood before. The new version was much more successful than the first, and I wondered why.
Here are my thoughts. First, and foremost, I realized that rather than being lost in the overwhelming detail of the rocks, water and foliage, my attention was to the "big picture". My approach was to design the several big shapes, the shadow shape, the river shape, the cliff wall shapes and the sky. This made everything easier to manage than my first attempt, and much more satisfying. Next, I clearly knew what was my subject this time. I was caught by the beautiful color/temperature relationships, mainly within the shadow area. For me, this painting was about the shadow story, and everything else was carefully made to support that intent. Finally, I was intentionally putting a lot of paint down and trying to keep the brushwork simple and meaningful. I realize these are a few of the things that have developed in my painting approach over months of regularly painting and seeking through experimentation to solve the things that frustrate obtaining the results I passionately want to achieve.
SANTA ELENA CANYON
©Jimmy Longacre 2014
8x10 oil on canvas panel
subjective realist landscape paintings
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