"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 debbie piro on May 18, 2012 at 19:37

'WOW' maybe one day we all will be as good. Fantastic work Richard.

Comment by Jacob Tarazoff on May 18, 2012 at 17:17

I saw P.A Nesbit do a great plein air painting last year at the GrandCanyon Celebration of Art (which he sold for a couple grand at the auction immediately after).  Have you ever thought of coming to the Canyon for the Celebration in September?  Im sure they would love to accommodate you.

Comment by Jacob Tarazoff on May 18, 2012 at 17:13

WoW! incredible painting.  I love the Grand Canyon and have spent alot of time there, climbing, hiking, painting, and you have really done it a wonderful justice here.  I spent the whole month of October, 2009, camped out at the Royal Arch Trailhead, near Moran point, and never was able to grasp what I was painting.  The place just totally dominates me....anyhow, great job! 

Comment by Michael Verschoor on May 18, 2012 at 11:02

Excellent outcome!  So different to your usual style but very pleasing!  Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Ngaire Lincoln on May 18, 2012 at 8:40

Wow, what a great final painting.  I struggled so much with just the exercise.

Comment by Anna Stenier-Karadjova on May 18, 2012 at 1:44

Superb final version of the Grand Canyon painting , Richard! The harmony of colors and soft light are beautiful!

:-)) Anna

Comment by Ann Turner on May 17, 2012 at 17:45

Thank you Richard for sharing the journey. I started my Grand C on a large canvas and frustrated started again. I am now doing a small version to keep things a little cleaner. Your final painting is my favorite of all your stuff ! WOW WOW WOW !

Comment by Peta Zeller on May 17, 2012 at 15:48

Thank you Richard for sharing your journey and story of this painting.  It's beautiful. 


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