Work in Progress: A Piece of Heaven

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve decided it’s time to start producing larger, better works rather than a few quick, little paintings.  It takes time, study and patience, but I’m beginning to realize it’s worth it.  A few weeks ago, I went to Grace Ranch to help Kenny with the fences and some vineyard work.  Meanwhile, I took a few great reference photos of longhorns, like the Bull in the last post.  One that I didn’t even realize would be important caught my eye.  It was simple, peaceful and I kept coming back to look again.

Although the lighting in this photo was bad, it was enough to jog my memory for a quick color study
Although the lighting in this photo was bad, it was enough to jog my memory for a quick color study

The reds of the tree on the right really stood out in the light with the blue background, so I tried to emphasize this in the 6×8″ acrylic color study:

6x8" color study of the background for the painting
6×8″ color study of the background for the painting. The tree wasn’t that red really… artistic license?

It took about 2-3 hours to lay in the scene in oil and I was pumped.  “This is so easy”.  Yeah.  I walked away for a bit and then looking at it, I momentarily forgot what I liked about it.  In artist tongue, that’s trouble.  So I sat, looked, gazed and pondered. It’s time to go look at the great artists for a bit of visual instruction (like Scott Christensen and Eric Koeppel… amazing artists).  I realized they all have foregrounds that set the scene and what I had was simply a background.  About a week went by of tinkering and gradually learning how to get real thick, saturated, warm colors in the foreground to jump out at you.  But, what would be a good, peaceful object to put in the foreground?  Mom suggested sheep.  Phsst. Really, sheep? Get real.  Then I got a FB message from a good friend with a picture of a painting with a guy (that looked like me) and he was walking with sheep through a forest.  Okay, so sheep huh?  Then driving out to meet a photography group at Chalk Creek Falls, I passed by a field two miles from my house with a whole herd of sheep.  Point taken.

The herd of sheep near my house (that I didn't know about).  Great references!
The herd of sheep near my house (that I didn’t know about). Great references!

Here’s the work as it is now.  I need to fill in the foreground tree with detail (on the left), fiddle with the grass a bit more and subdue the red tree a bit (a tad too bold and blood red for a calm scene).  I’m really happy with this one and can almost see the finished scene.

(Work in Progress) Piece of Heaven 18x24" Oil on canvas panel
(Work in Progress) Piece of Heaven 18×24″ Oil on canvas panel

I’ll post the finished painting in a few days.

Here it is:

Finished
Finished

Here’s a few close up of the brush strokes

Center sheep close up

plantcloseup TreeCloseUp

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