Kathryn Stats: Fresh Off the Easel Step-by-Step

by Paint Tube 1 Minutes

Kathryn Stats: Fresh Off the Easel Step-by-Step

This week, Kathryn Stats (Painting the Effects of Light) walks us through her latest painting, October Glacier.

I was drawn to the brilliant fall foliage backlit against the distant mountains of Glacier National Park. For the large painting, 20 x 30 inches, I used two different references to find the composition that would best suit my plan.
Here’s my initial photo.

I used a second photo to help me create better placement for the mountains.

And finally, I used a third photo that showed foreground reflection in the water. Adding in this water (and its reflection) helps create a better balance in my overall composition.

After combining these ideas, I proceeded to the initial block-in.

I continued to add paint. I use paint that is darker in value than what I plan to use for the final painting.
As I added more subject matter and adjusted values for distance, I ran into a problem. I struggled to have the far mountains look like they were traveling back in space, but not look too cool. I failed.

Finally, though, through reworking the mid-mountains, I found a color and value that fit better in the painting. You don’t always get it on the first try.

I also “half pasted” the distant blue mountains with a warm cast from the sky to better bring the painting together.
Below is my finished painting and the same painting in a black and white so you can see the final values.