Michael Chesley Johnson, Fine Art, Landscapes, Seascapes, Maritimes, Paintings, Oil, Pastel

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Demo: Painting with a "Local Color" Underpainting

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The finished piece.
I sharpen up the "window" in the top of the cliff, add dark accents and highlights
to the cliff. I do more work on the green pond weed "pathway" to lead the eye in.
I refine the water in the bottom half of the painting to give the eye a quiet place to rest.
As a finishing touch, I add a few birds -- ravens, perhaps? -- in the sky over the window
with my stick of vine charcoal. The charcoal has a very soft touch so the birds aren't
sharp against the sky and draw the eye too much.

"Ramah Lake Sunrise," pastel on sanded paper, 19"x25"

Detail of Center of Interest.

Palette used.
It's always useful to see exactly the palette the artist used in a painting.
Here, you can see I used a total of 36 sticks for this, most of them cool colors.
I used exclusively very soft pastels (a variety such as Mount Vision, Great
American, Sennelier, Schmincke and some handmade ones), except for a couple
of hard NuPastels. These I saved for blending and smoothing the surface of the
pond weed. (It was important the weed didn't trap the eye.)
The soft brush was used
for corrections. The box is my "working palette," where I keep pastels that are
currently in use.

The happy artist.
It's also useful to see how happy you can be when your painting goes well!