I took a trip to my home town of Superior, Arizona to visit my parents for Christmas in 2016. On the way, I took a snapshot of Pickett Post Mountain as we were driving into town on US Highway 60. I’ve always enjoyed the geography of the town in which I grew up. There is amazing desert scenery surrounding the little former mining town. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Later on, looking at the photo, I thought it’d make a great subject for a painting.
Here is the beginning sketch of the what I wanted to develop. I have been using old canvases I’m no longer happy with to paint on rather than using a fresh new canvas, so you can see part of the previous image under the drawing.
Below you’ll see the beginnings of paint on the canvas. I painted in the sky area pretty quickly. Then I painted some of the major areas to help define boundaries. I wanted to quickly get a feel of the cracks in the mountain, so put those down. This is the “ugly” stage. Other artists will know this. At this stage, I sometimes feel that I’ve made a mistake and wonder where this will lead. Is it worth pursuing, or should I start over? But then I realize, it’s still early and move on to see where it goes. Then it becomes fun again.
The next step involved putting most of the base color throughout the canvas. This gave me a better idea of what the finished piece might look like. With this I could see the possibilities more clearly. I also get a better idea of what needs to happen with shadows and highlights.
At this stage, the painting has the defining colors and just needs to have the shadows and highlights enhanced. Small details start to take shape. I’ve worked on the mountain, identifying shadows, working on the peaks and crevices. The foreground is still in a rough stage, and will be detailed in the next phase.
I’ve worked on the foreground and the whole piece looks finished. I’ve enhanced the small hills and made the highway more obvious. At this stage, I think it’s done.