"Rees Valley"  20x20"  Oil on Canvas
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 "Rees Valley"  8x10"  Oil on Canvasboard



Hi guys, I'm home from my South Island adventure and spent the day in the studio today painting this 20x20" piece from the smaller study I did down there on the spot. It's really nice to let loose on a bigger one with the luxury of more time and biscuits. Here's a list of things I wrote down to inspire me for the day's work:


shimmering complementaries


big shapes




big vs small


dynamic brushwork


palette knife


thin vs thick


You can see the first on the list was 'shimmering complementaries' which I really wanted to pursue in this one - adding more color into the shadows with warm/cool variations that are (this is important) the same value as the main shadow color. I really enjoy doing this. It's something that was really hammered home in this painting from a week ago. Funny how you keep re-learning stuff.


Since I've been working on this Mastering Sunsets dvd I also had a hankering to really nail a glowing sun effect in a painting so I spent a fair amount of time trying to achieve that today too. Basically ALL the colors get warmer and lighter towards the sun, but I also threw some cool complements in there to to add some shimmer. Worked pretty well no? Pretty atmospheric.Yeah I had fun. It's interesting looking at the color difference between the on-site study and the studio piece. I think mainly because I was painting looking into the sun that day the study came out fairly dark and gray, so I tried to remedy that a bit in the big one.


I also had lots of good advice rolling around in my head that was given by my painting companions on top of that cliff and in the valley the following day. Stuff like, 'Don't make pattterns', 'Put more colour in your snow', 'get a full value range in for a more dynamic painting', 'remember to soften edges', 'unbalance your composition a little', etc etc. Thanks to John, Ben and Mary.


Brrr. My studio was colder than painting in the snow today! Time for a hot bath to thaw my bones.


What do you think of the painting? Please if you do want to leave a comment can you do it on the blog post page and not reply by email? I've found that lots of interesting comments come to me be email but it would be nice to share those with everyone else too. Thanks.


Hope you all had a productive day too.


All the best,



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Comment by Richard Robinson on August 2, 2011 at 9:08
Thanks guys for all your comments - very interesting to see the all different responses to a single painting isn't it? I find that when I've just finished a painting I'm too 'close' to the painting to see it objectively. It really helps to view it in a mirror (or flip it over on the computer) - amazing what a difference that makes. I notice Scott Christensen has a mirror in his studio facing his painting so he can check during painting and spot mistakes on the go. Very good idea.
Comment by Helena Ignowski on August 2, 2011 at 7:08
Your painting is filled with very beautiful light ...congratulation!!! Wonderfull
Comment by Mary Paloma Diesel on July 27, 2011 at 11:47
I tend to differ about the lower part of the painting. That's where I see the depth of the water the most. Also, I like the increased detail on the foreground trees (really helps to illustrate the scale of the whole scene), and the increased intensity of both the warms and the cools. Definite atmosphere - I can feel the cold. Thanks for the opportunity to get a closer look at your approach.
Comment by Roena King on July 27, 2011 at 1:05

All that you mentioned in your blog post about the different colors of the same value in the shadows I can see and understand.  I think this is one of your best RR.  I have been hanging around you for about a year now, and I can see some really good improvement in your understanding and application of color. i.e. warm/cool - same value - same area.  I would say to you that you have achieved a new step up the ladder and I congratulate you on the achievement.  You are impressing me more and more by friend! 

What I wish you to consider is to use this as a teaching painting video thing (if you took photos along the process way to use), and I wish you would also include a photo of your palette.  I can tell a lot seeing that.

After reading Diana's comments I looked at the lower part of the painting.  You changed your brush strokes from the typical side to side which makes things lay down to some up and down.  With just a little imagination I can see ghost people walking across the river and/or the river tends to fall off the earth due to the up and down strokes. 

RR you are so kind to take us along with you on your journey.  I really appreciate the time it takes you to do these blogs.  


I am so looking forward to the Sunset Videos.



Comment by DIANA TETLOW on July 26, 2011 at 23:43
The lighting "effect" has been done well, but had you kept to something nearer the original format, cutting the lower portion of the painting off just below the dark blob on the island between the streams of water, drawing the eye towards the headlands and the mountains, I think it would have been a more effective painting.  As it is, we're a bit lost in the lower portion of the painting, with the result that too much is going on.  Though it's much more fun to try for a square composition, I don't thing this one works.
Comment by terry perham on July 26, 2011 at 21:46
i like the extra light in the lower left in the studio work,  but i prefer the stronger background in the smaller work. you have done well to use the same fast simple application in both. very painterly results. a strong light effects. nice work richard, terry
Comment by Dorian Aronson on July 26, 2011 at 16:02

Hi Richard

So happy to received your updates and of course I save everyone of your painting images!  One of these days I will buy one.  Dorian

Comment by Denise Maxwell on July 26, 2011 at 9:31

Hello Richard,

I just love the the way you have created the glowing sunset and the shimmer on the water, the warm cool colors to pop the foreground, also your use of dynamic brushwork in the water up close. My only question would be would the shadow area in the foreground left bottom of the picture appears a little high in value where in the study it really is more dramatic. Also missing for me is the middle ground shadow across the stream, it's not as defined an aspect which I really liked in the study and it seems to help flatten or lay down the river, if this makes any sense. Perhaps you have moved the sunset location in this larger piece and the shadow then wouldn't really work there anymore. So having mused on this I do like the blue color spot you have used which is very similar to the blue from the distance mountains.

I like your list to inspire, is this something you do regularly besides the notan studies? Also you mention the advice you were getting on location can you explain more what would have been meant by "Don't make patterns."

Thanks for sharing your process.


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