I just finished this 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas this week and I thought I would share some of what I learned along the way. I painted this piece from imagination, meaning I had no reference so I got to just make it up as I go and it’s a lot of fun to paint that way.
First, a lot of rich color can come from subtle grays and browns. I remember a quote by the illustrator, Dean Cornwell, “A great colorist is known for their grays just as a chef is known for their gravies and sauces. The grays are the sauces that flavor all the other colors on the canvas.”
The sky was layer upon layer upon layer, because I wanted to give the feeling of real depth, not just a two dimensional flat space on the canvas. After that, the light pours in and influences everything around it. Prints of this image are available by clicking here, and be sure to follow me on Instagram @kyle_henry_art to see latest updates on my art journey. -Kyle
I have always been enjoyed visiting a state park up in the Northwest corner of Arkansas called Devil’s Den. The rocks lining the river for miles and the only sounds are the birds and flowing water. I wanted to paint a fairly large picture that captures the tranquility of this special place.
Sorting through some of my photo reference, I start sketching some ideas. I think it might be fun to add a bear so I look for a reference and do a sketch of that too.
The photo reference of the creek is just for information only. I am not interested in copying this photo as it does not have the emotion that I want. An early morning might be more interesting.
First step is to very loosely block-in the overall painting with the basic colors using a large brush. After I allow this to dry for a few days, I am ready to begin the finished painting, from back to front.
I work on the sky and then the mountains, refining the shapes and drawing as I go with the paint, and always stepping back and taking the whole picture in and making sure it works well from a distance.
The painting up to this point has the look of a dry creek bed, because I will have to lay in the rocks and then apply the lights of the water to achieve the look of clear water. The thickest paint is applied last and will reflect the light shown on it when it hangs on the wall for a nice effect.
Here you can see it all framed up and on the wall. I look forward to enjoying this a few months before it travels to an art show. If you like this painting you may want to check out my instagram by clicking here