This scene is from the Last Creek trail in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It was so exciting after hiking for about an hour to hear and see rushing water in the desert. The trail changes drastically nearing the foothills of the Spring Mountains.
When I sat down with the subject, I tried to visualize what it should look like as a painting. One good exercise to get me started; look at the work of (in the case), landscape painters I admire. What things in those paintings are appealing to me? I’m not talking about copying but borrowing some paint language .
My decision was to draw attention to the foreground rocks, with their varied subtle tones and interesting shapes. This decision was a very personal thing, it all depended on my preferences, but having no Point of View is like someone who will not take a stand on an issue, the result is usually weak and boring. I foresaw there would be some trouble areas because the image contained some chaotic passages but I decided to figure it out as I went.
Hello chaos, the background’s twisted trees with green peaking through were fighting the foreground rocks for attention. This is a good time to distance from the painting and figure out what to do next. Years ago when I would arrive at this “problem” phase I would just keep on painting, trying this, trying that, just guessing at what might help, it’s an exhausting way to work.
What needed to happen in order to make it pleasing to my eye:
- Kill the contrast in the dark tree on the left next to the sky
- Unify the trees
- Eliminate most of green in the background
- Sharpen up the foreground with contrast in the water