There are some things I shy away from painting, because I can't really envision how I would go about it; things that I love to photograph but how the hell would I paint that? It's that annoying thing about getting too comfortable with one's craft, that you just know certain subject matter are going to turn out well, so why bother with the others? There are definitely some subjects I like to paint more than others, but those preferences change over time. It's not that I want to be awesome at painting all of the things, but I do like to challenge myself and fiddle about with new subjects. The badlands near Drumheller happens to be the very subject in this case.
I think the main reason I've shied away from painting or drawing pictures of the badlands were the colors. So many neutrals. Some of the accounts on Instagram that annoy me the most are ones where all the bloody photos are comprised of shit that is 90% neutral in tone. I mean come on!! There are so many amazing colors out there! I think that's the thing I love most about the east coast, Yellowknife and Mexico. They are not afraid to have colorful exteriors on their buildings, and it seems the unwritten rule is: the louder, the better. The interior of our little house is starting to emulate that. Our living room is a wondrous blue and our kitchen is a startling bright teal color. I love using bright colors when I paint and dress. I'm not opposed to neutral color schemes, but it's very tiring (to me) to seem them consistently flaunted in fashionable business and home interiors. Oh look, another grey and white kitchen. How nice! The tile in your cafe is white with pale wood accents and pastel colored dishes. So fresh! Ah, this spring the beige cardigans are a little more pink than the ones in the fall. What a nice change! For a culture that complains loudly about winter and it's coldness and lack of color, we sure do like to tote these wintry, neutral color schemes. So here is this fantastic landscape in the middle of the Alberta prairie with all these interesting shapes and textures and a very neutral palette.
Pass. I need more snap and color.
But then I figured why the hell not try my hand at painting it? I had some nice photos I took while passing through Drumheller last summer. I enjoyed sitting by the hoodoos and sketching for a few hours. Don't knock it 'til you try it, right? On my first attempt, I didn't paint the hoodoos. I painted a nice picture of the side of a hill with all it's strata exposed and some dead trees in the foreground. (Wow, that's a description that would sell a painting, but that is what the painting is about. See below.)
Then after Christmas I was flipping through some of my sketchbooks looking for particular instax photos I had a mind to put to canvas, and I came across some photos of the hoodoos and decided to try again.
The color scheme was neutralish. But those shapes and textures of the formations! So here are three more versions:
This next one is a particular favorite because the hoodoos are front and center but not super easy to spot because of the color and texture of the hill serving as a backdrop to them.
The sky in this painting is lovely. It was a hot, dry and breezy summer afternoon that day. I can almost feel that wind in my hair when I look at it.
As you can see I'm not that great with a very neutral palette. I made the shadows a lovely purplish blue to help offset all the hues of beige and orangy-browns in these pieces, and then added a few flecks of cadmium red light to different areas just because I can.
Same simple reason I make an effort to try subject matter I am not familiar or comfortable with; because I can.