Added to the Monument Valley painting was a mounted rider who has stopped just to admire the view. Monument Valley is widely known as the backdrop to some of John Ford's classic western movies such as "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" starring John Wayne. That's why I decided to rename this painting "Where the West Was Won".
this painting was done as a result of my trip out to Jackson, Wyoming. On the way, we drove through Monument Valley. The artist reception at Trailside Gallery was the next day, so I didn't have time to set up and paint. But I did manage to take some great photos of the area. This setting was right behind a roadside Navajo stand, where they set up and sell their arts. So much of the jewelry and pottery is beautiful, and I'm a sucker for turquoise jewelry anyways, so, I usually end up leaving with something (so does Ann, bless her heart).
As I've mentioned before, I love painting backlit subjects, and these sandstone formations are no exception. When you see rock formations in the distance, you are looking through the veil of atmosphere that is between you and it. This veil flattens out and minimizes the values and definition of such formations. It's important when you paint these, to keep your values close and remember to paint the planes you see. A vertical plane catches less light than a flat plane, so it needs to be painted darker. But if you paint this area with just one color, such as blue or grey, you will not achieve the illusion of depth. It's important to mix warms and cools in those shadows. Just as important as doing it in the lights. You just need to keep them closer. Also, there is a natural color difference in color in this type of stone. It's important to pay attention to these subtle changes. I make sure to simplify the rock formations in the distance. It's sooooo easy to get lost in the detail that you see, but don't fall for it. You'll be much better served if you pick out a few defining cracks and crevices. Keep your detail in the foreground and allow the detail to fall away as your distance increases. It's the way our eye sees, and it's the way to fool the eye into believing it's seeing depth in a two dimensional surface. If you do these things, your paintings will have the atmospheric perspective that is much more believable. And in the end, you will have a painting, not just a copy of your photograph. Use your photos for the shapes and selective detail, but never be a slave to it. Make compositional changes to make your painting better. Nobody cares if that bush or that tree was painted exactly in the place you put it. What matters is, for you to end up with the best painting you can!
Thanks for looking, Steve