Zion National Park
Zion is was one of my favorite parks to visit this summer. There are plenty of places to go hiking and for me the geologic history is fascinating. Each layer of rock tells a story of past conditions and events. The whole park is a record of Earth's history and one can still see the forces in action today that formed the topography over tens of thousands of years.
This location really lends itself to representation with a complementary color scheme. The greens and reds of the scenery play off each other nicely and contribute to the overall vibrancy of the composition.
Not only do green and red complement each other visually, there is a geochemical/biological connection in nature between the two. These two colors are intimately related in that the green chlorophyll of the plants makes photosynthesis possible, which itself produces oxygen as one of its products. This atmospheric component was/is responsible for rusting the Iron that went into the rocks we find all over Zion. These rocks tell us a history of ancient climate/atmospheric conditions and indirectly tell us what life was like on Earth so long ago.
Wild-Life and Color-Schemes
Driving through Yellowstone, one is almost guaranteed to see several kinds of large mammals. I've seen Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Bison and Elk all from the road. On one occasion I was fortunate enough to snap a few pictures of Big-Horn Sheep, which are imposing and impressive in many ways. These creatures have a large set of horns made for running into things. Plenty of reason to keep your distance. Luckily we saw them from the car about 100 feet off the road.
One of the challenges you face in painting Wildlife and Landscape in the West, is communicating colors in interesting ways. For this painting I chose to increase the vibrancy of the colors from the photo. The source colors for this composition were rather dull, but lent themselves to complementary & split-complementary color schemes.
Yellow and violet are complements on the color wheel and on either side of yellow are green and orange. Adjacent to violet are red-violet and blue-violets. These opposing colors harmonize really well with each other helped me by placing constraints on my color choice. Using a color scheme and limiting one's choices like this is analogous to composing music in a particular key or selecting certain chords to create the effect. Cool purples, blues and greens tend to recede in this painting while warmer oranges and yellows provide contrast and move forward visually.
I once again used my preferred medium of Gamblin Fast-Matte Oil to paint this picture. After about three days of drying I will protect the work with Krylon UV-blocking Gloss varnish, which is easily removed.
Prints of this work are available Here.
Recently, my El's Clay colleague Maribel and I, performed at the Terakedis Gallery in downtown Billings. Our show consisted of three hours of live dance and drawing (see the short clip below). This type of venue/performance was a first for us. Our last show consisted of both drawing and dance, but not simultaneously, so we both learned a lot.
Several visitors stopped in over the course of the evening and many paused outside the gallery window to look in. One of our goals as an organization is to bring attention to the Billings Art Scene and this performance succeeded in that respect. There are many creative people in our city and they often go unnoticed. By putting on performances like this we hope to connect more people with art and artists and build a richer sense of community.
I ended up completing three more-or-less life-sized drawings (see below) while Maribel danced. Periodically she paused for extended poses so I could work on the composition. Each drawing is about 4x5 feet in size. I had not drawn for this kind of extended period since college, so I was reminded of how taxing it can be. Maribel was tired as well, but remained graceful and energetic through the end. She definitely worked harder than me and is truly a professional dancer.
The next El's Clay event will be at the First Congregational Church UCC in Billings on August 4th as part of the Billings Artwalk. We will have live poetry readings, drawing and dance at this event as well as information about El's Clay. This event will run from approx 5:30 to 9 pm with refreshments provided . We hope to see you there.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.