The Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson are beautiful and distinctive. I found them very challenging and rewarding, but mostly challenging to both hike and paint. The terrain is very textural, huge rock formations with spotted clumped vegetation. Single photos represent a small bit of the visual experience. On multiple trips I've taken hundreds of mediocre photos, here are a few that I am using to create a new painting. This one has nice shadow and light shapes, like most of my photos there is a glare across the lens. Not the artistic lens flares like in movies, but the annoying kind.
Nice composition and a bit of the atmosphere that was very evident in person, but it is a struggle for mediocre photographers to capture.
Ah that beautiful texture that's so difficult to paint. Painting every detail of the rock and scrub brush would take more patience than I have, and would make for a less intriguing painting. The challenge is to suggest detail with brush strokes and edit shapes to create pleasing rhythm and design.
This photo is less mediocre.
On to the composition, color, design; what to edit out and what to make the emphasis. I complete most of this work digitally. This stage is one of the most fun and challenging, (there's that word again). I often spend quite a bit of time in this stage, yet every painting is still edited more as the stages progress.
I draw the composition about 12" wide, and grid it up so I can draw it on the painting surface. I don't create full size drawings and transfer them anymore. I used to work that way, but that's very challenging.
Often I create multiple color comps in a sketchbook; I was pretty happy with this one. The camera, as always, distorts the color and values, compressing the range. So you cant see that I was emphasizing the broken color passages.
This is all "preliminary work" as Joel Nakamura would say. I haven't yet started the final painting, stay tuned.