"Sunrise, Grand Canyon" 24x30" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson

Hi guys, been slogging away on this one for 2 weeks now - not my usual method. I prefer to get a painting done in one session if possible but I really wanted to push myself on this one. I got done with the first blockin of all the major colours and felt that there was a huge problem with the colours - they just weren't relating to each other in a harmonious way. There were these big orange shapes in the foreground fighting with this insipid blue background. It felt like rap music when what I wanted was a symphony.

I realized I was going to have to scrape the whole thing off and start again or try painting over top of it. I compromised and scraped all the shadows off and began painting over all the lights. Yuck, it still looked like the cat's breakfast, so I turned in despair to Monet whose paintings I've just seen in America. He really did create symphonies of colour on each canvas.

"The Grand Canal" 28.9 x 36.4" Oil on Canvas

What I saw was that he was threading every colour in the painting throughout the entire canvas to some degree which creates a natural harmony and echoes the way we actually see colour. Look at anything long enough and you will see all the colours of the rainbow in it. So I started doing this in my own painting, threading greens, mauves and blue grays into the orange rocks and trying to create an overall sense of light throughout the scene. I found that overpainting with wet thick paint only obliterated the colour underneath, so I saw the wisdom of using Monet's drier paint approach, lightly brushed to allow the underlayers to show through. My darks built up very quickly and began to challenge the lights so I took to scraping these areas off and then reworking a little.

The temptation is to paint every little crack and rock but scraping back allowed me to stay in a much freer state of mind rather than becoming precious with the painting. After two weeks I am well ready to leave this one alone and move onto something else. I could keep dabbling with it indefinitely but I prefer to move on. I can't honestly say it's my favorite painting of mine but I enjoyed the different process and the chance to understand a little more of Monet's methodology. It's such a shame most of that old apprentice system has gone, but at least we have their paintings to learn from, so I encourage you to use them as much as you like to improve your own painting.

Wikipedia is a great place to find high quality photos of master paintings on the internet. Just go there and search for something like Monet, or Sorolla, or impressionist, or your favorite artist. Such a great resource. Enjoy.

The first block-in.

"Sunrise, Grand Canyon" 24x30" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson

My resource photo

My 10x8" plein air painting.


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Comment by Cristina Mihailescu on February 11, 2014 at 12:03

Wow, how wonderful! I love to be here. So talented and friendly people!

Thank you Richard for your amazing artwork!

Comment by Charlotte Walkup on December 29, 2013 at 0:24
I get it! I remember my first teacher telling me that I needed to introduce secondary colors throughout the whole painting. This was 50 years ago. I had forgotten. Thanks for the reminder. I love the freshness of your work.
Comment by Maria Carmen Alegre P. on July 20, 2013 at 0:52

Richard, really I like, the light of the rocks and the atmosfera in the painting is nice. thank you for share with us.

Always I learning form you.

I can't do it , I will be lost for so.

Comment by Lucy Tyson on June 6, 2013 at 2:09
Richard, I love the way you captured the atmosphere in the background canyon.
Comment by Dr.Chandana "Chan" Hewage on May 13, 2013 at 12:13

Thanks Richard for sharing your great techniques. It makes us easy to follow and improve our skills. 

Comment by Warick Hearn on February 22, 2013 at 20:18

Wonderful paintings Richard, and yes I agree with you about Monet.....my favourite artist

Comment by Laura Steger on January 3, 2013 at 3:55

Great advice, Richard, and beautiful painting!  I tend to "over detail" my paintings so this is information that I certainly can use and need to practice.  Thanks so much!

Comment by Rose on November 27, 2012 at 11:40

Bonjour Richard,

Bravo pour cette belle réalisation. Monet est l'un de mes peintres préférés et je m'efforce d'étudier et d'appliquer sa technique, tout comme celle des Impressionnistes en général.

Des démonstrations comme celle-là, j'en redemande !

Merci Richard !

Comment by Joan Brantome on August 20, 2012 at 3:51

Hello Richard,  This painting is absolutely wonderful! One that the viewer can not take their eyes away from...so soft and yet so powerful.  A Masterpiece.  Thanks for sharing.    Joan

Comment by Richard Robinson on June 12, 2012 at 11:22

Wow Holobrook has same amazing paintings - thanks for the link. Yes I'd love to see his work in Hawaii.


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