South Island Mountains

South Island Mountains, oil on paper, 2021.

Confession time: this New Zealand landscape has been sitting on my easel as a faint pencil outline for almost 3 years. THREE. YEARS. I wasn’t satisfied with my first attempt, so I plugged away at different studies, first as a digital colour test, and then as a digital value study.

First attempt in oils – bright colours and all!

Eventually, having studied the Heck out of this thing, I felt ready to make a second attempt. I stretched and gesso’d the paper; I taped the edges for a nice, clean border; I transferred the lineart; and then… I got bored with it? Honestly, it was so long ago that I can’t even remember what happened! I’m guessing that it was a combination of work/parenting obligations getting out of hand, and the fear that I had simply chosen the wrong image to wrestle (let’s face it, for such an impressive landscape, the camera lens makes it look pretty flat).

Colour Study in Photoshop (I may have cheated and used the Colour Picker)
Value Study in Photoshop. This was my screen saver for a while!

Ain’t gonna lie: the final version almost died on the easel. I hadn’t touched REAL PAINT in 3 years, and water-soluble oils are a tricky beast even at the best of times. I got so frustrated that I even resorted to working with a palette knife! But I threw my faith behind the power of layers and persevered, and while it’s not perfect (colours are STILL too bright! Is it my eyes or is it you, Holbein Duo Aqua oils?), I can now say that this painting is DONE. And it only took 3 years! 😉