Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Work-in-Progress / Lake McDonald, Montana

Here is another painting inspired the beautiful scenery of Glacier National Park. I began the initial layers, much like the last work, using a neutral grey as the background and magenta for the clouds. It is essentially a rough draft with loosely defined edges.
Rough Draft Phase
The paint of the clouds is applied thicker than the mountains. Depending upon how much medium or thinner you use, the oils can mimic the appearance of watercolor. It is also important to "paint outside the lines" so that the edges will easily blend, unless you prefer a more solid and crisp border.

"Cover the Canvas -- Hurry!"

Back in early 2000, I took art classes from a wonderful portrait painter and art instructor, Janet McGrath. One of best concepts I gained from her classes was to quickly cover the white canvas, paying particular attention to values. She had a specific layout for her palette from light to dark. It was amazing to watch the work of fellow students evolve, in such a short span of time!

Janet moved from FL last year and now lives in Ringgold, Georgia. She is still teaching and accepting commissions. (Florida misses you! ) and Since she hasn't been shy about her age in newsletters - can I just say... she is one incredibly inspiring over 80-something year old lady! 


The grey canvas has been covered with mainly medium values. The center of focus is towards the left lower corner. Oil paints are applied straight from the tube, without using white to lighten them. Radiant oils made by Gamblin, including Magenta, Turquoise, and Radiant Blue are now palette staples.

You can use Black!
There are times when using black paint comes in handy, especially for creating contrast. In this example, I wanted to avoid any mixture including blue to darken the clouds and landscape - due to past challenges with blending mishaps :\
 **Don't be afraid to do what works for you in the process, because the end result (your personal satisfaction) is what really matters. 

Highlighting with White 

After previous layers are thoroughly dry, white is applied around the edges of the clouds. Magenta is almost obsolete. So the question is...why go through the trouble of layering, if all you're going to do is cover it up?

The simple answer: Confetti! 

Put the paint down in a hurry, watch it fly around in the air, and let it gradually settle out... slowly falling to the ground, in many tiny little pieces - that create the whole.

There you go. I don't know another way to describe it :)

16x12 Oil on linen
Here is the completed version.
Thanks for reading this blog. Your comments are welcome.



  1. Lake McDonald Sky - Sometimes a little luck - others would call it 'good timing' - is all an artist needs. I appreciate your comment regarding - 'Put the paint down in a hurry.' It is an approach that many resist yet the results - such as yours give your clouds movement. I have bookmarked your site and will come back again.

  2. Hi Elizabeth! Welcome back and thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm delighted you found the post helpful. How encouraging!

    The thing I love about oils is they are relatively forgiving. You can easily paint over the layers, once they are dry. The tricky part is knowing when to stop! :)


Thanks for your comments!