Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mount Diablo, oil on canvas

Mount Diablo

In late fall I began a commission to paint Mount Diablo, in central Contra Costa County, for a client and friend who sees this view from her bedroom window in Alamo.  She may be moving to southern California in the next year or so, and wants to "take the view with her".  This is a pretty big painting for me, at 24" x 30", and the huge mountain looms so close to the house that it was a challenge to really get the scale of the thing.  The near foreground was not quite as arboreal as it appears here - the view was filled with her neighbors' houses, driveways, and recycling bins, and when I drove out to do my on-site sketches, clouds covered the top ridge, creating another problem for me.  (A day or two later the sky cleared and the client sent me a photograph of the top of the mountain so I could fill in the blank in my drawings...)

I decided that to make the mountain look Really Big, it needed to be bathed in late afternoon sunlight, the clouds above it retreating in perspective, and the foreground had to be in deeper shadow to make the composition more dramatic. I eliminated the houses between me and the closest foothills (while keeping a few of their trees and shrubs) to keep the view pristine and powerful.

All of this is a demonstration of how artists can paint the truth without necessarily painting exactly what they see!

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