Friday, October 14, 2016

Step-By-Step Painting Grand Canyon

Tapeats Amphitheater, Grand Canyon
I want to first let you know that after many years of procrastinating, I finally made several of my favorite art pieces available through Fine Art America!  Just yesterday I finally just got it done!  I don't know why I waited so long...there is nothing to lose, right?

Here is the link to the available art:  Stacy Egan Artwork FAA.

One of the pieces available for printing is this one I just completed of Tapeats Amphitheater in the Grand Canyon.  We were camped at a remote location along the north rim, Locust Point, and I only had to walk a few feet to the overlook to get this view.  I set up my camp chair and relaxed as I drew the lines and curves of the cliffs, plateaus and horizon before me.  It is truly a vast and magical place.  It took me maybe 45 minutes to an hour to complete the ink sketch in my Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook:
Locust Point view, Grand Canyon
After concentrating for so long, I decided I needed to rest and chose not to watercolor over the sketch.  And actually, I quite liked the ink drawing as is.

When I got home, I decided to trace the lines onto watercolor paper.  I first took a piece of tracing paper and placed it over the open pages of my sketchbook and traced the lines in ink.  I then used a light table to place the traced drawing under an 8x10" piece of watercolor paper and traced the lines lightly in pencil.  I then tape the painting onto a plexiglass board with blue painters tape.  Ready to start painting!

First was to paint the underpainting.  I learned this technique from studying Jonathan Frank's work (he describes his process here), and I have since been doing this awhile because I really like the gold and rosy glow that shows through after I paint on the local color.  Here is the stage of the painting after applying the underpainting of New Gamboge and Quinacridone Rose using a wet-into-wet technique:
Underpainting complete
Next I blocked out the general shadow shapes using mixes of Indanthrone Blue and Quinacridone Rose.  These represent mainly the cliff faces of the canyons below.  Also, I was ready to start painting the sky.  Ever since I learned a technique from Untamed Little Wolf for creating a starry night sky (YouTube demonstration video here) I am just hooked on creating imagined night skies in my landscape paintings.  When I was a teenager I was so entranced by our starry universe I started my university life as an Astronomy major.  That turned into a Physics degree, but that is another story.  Anyway, I am always awestruck by the night sky and how amazing the vastness and beauty of the universe is. So I created a starry night sky for this painting (though I had yet to create the stars at this stage):
Main shadows blocked in, night sky with nebula added
Next was time to add the stars to the night sky, and go to town on the local color.  To create the stars, I used white acrylic ink and a bristle brush.  I covered the landscape part of my painting with scrap paper and spattered on the white ink.  It's actually quite amazing to see the transformation as you spatter.  Next was to paint all the local color in the trees, plateaus, cliffs and distant hills.  Once I got going on this I didn't stop to make any intermediate photos, I just kept going, working different areas of the painting while others dried.  I also accentuated more shadow shapes:
Stars added, local color and trees painted in, shadows accentuated
At this point the painting was nearly done.  I let it sit for awhile propped up on my desk to look at occasionally, evaluate what needed doing yet.  As many artists say, part of it is knowing when to stop.  When I was satisfied with the watercolor, it was time to draw in the ink lines.  I also leaned this technique from Jonathan Frank and I am always amazed at how well it defines the edges in a watercolor painting.  I feel it is the finishing touch that really solidifies a painting, though it also adds a bit of surreal effect as well.  The black lines always accentuate the vibrant color I so love, almost like with stained glass.  I filled up my 0.30mm Rapidograph technical pen with black ink and began tracing the main outlines as well as minor outlines of small shapes within each feature.  It's a bit of a process but actually quite meditative.

As I worked on this painting I realized that it would be a perfect one to send to my friend Tom Martin in Flagstaff.  He is extremely experienced and knowledgeable about all things Grand Canyon, and he gave my husband so many hours of help as he planned his through-hike of the Grand Canyon along the river this year.  I wanted to give him a tangible "thank you" for all he's done for my husband and the Grand Canyon itself.  So I sent it to him in a black mat!

I hope you find this little step-by-step tutorial helpful for your own artistic endeavors!


Joan Tavolott said...

I love this and love seeing your steps. Thanks for the link from to here so I could see it. Wonderful job!

Rosemary Bannon Tyksinski, PhD said...

Thanks for sharing your fascinating process for this delightful painting.

Cheryl said...

Love to read about your good of you to share. This is wonderful!

Tina Judd said...

You are an Amazing Artist! I Adore Your Style and Work... Keep Sharing Your Gifts and Talent!❤