Aspen Forest in Rain Oil On Panel 36″ x 48″

This is a painting from a hike in the Pecos Wilderness in the summer. I was up on Hamilton Mesa and got caught in a heavy rainstorm, and ended up standing under a tree for over an hour waiting for the rain to abate. As usual, I fell in love with the image and the mood, and as I started working I realized how challenging it would be. But by then it was too late! I started this almost exactly one year ago, and just finished it. Here are some of the stages of the painting along the way:

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This is the primatura, or underpainting. I wanted to help myself by having this show up in the background as I worked, so the painting started to feel like something earlier in the process than if I had left the gesso alone or used a solid underpainting.
Just beginning to lay in the scene. I’ve been experimenting with different ways to sketch for an oil painting, and have been using alcohol based permanent markers – Winsor and Newton Brush Markers usually. They allow me to work on detail relatively quickly without getting oil paint on everything. Once I start painting in oils, I usually can only work a bit before starting to smudge the painting if I’m not working loosely, even using a painting mahl.
This is a lot of marker sketch, with a little oil painting starting.
Now I am slowly painting into the scene, using the marker sketch as a topographic map to help me know where I am.
This is after scumbling in lots of paint to start to get the values right, instead of just seeing underpainting.
I finally starting tackling the detail of the grasses and stuff in the foreground, as well as slowly going through the leaf canopy and painting leaves. A fair amount of the foreground is still markers. Now the mountains and sky in the background feel wrong, as they are still the underpainting and don’t have the right value.
Now the mountains have been painted in, and most of the foreground is painted.
None of the rain the was falling showed in the photograph I had taken, and that was important to have in there to convey the mood of the scene, so I added raindrops with a brush and lots of Liquin medium to make the rain transparent. If it didn’t work, I would pretty much ruin the painting, so I did a little study (shown here) to try and figure it out.
Here is the final painting, properly scanned instead of photographed in my studio.

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