oil painting · Reference Photos · Step-by-step


My sister lives in Colorado and came East visiting the family this week. That, of course, got me reminiscing about the trip my hubby and I took out to visit her about four years ago. 

I took about a million pictures I think. Colorado is one of those rare places where you just gasp in awe around every turn. And you really can’t, I don’t believe, truly capture it in a photo. Maybe not even in a painting. But you know I have to try. 

Recently encouraged by some folks who know their way around a paint brush, I’ve decided that I might not be a complete failure in the landscape department. So, I’ve decided that every 9th or 10th painting I do, I really do need to tackle a landscape. I also want to start painting on a slightly larger scale.

So, this one might take me a little while. In general, I don’t work at the easel longer than a couple of hours at a time. I develop a horrendous pain across my shoulders from holding up my arm or arms for long periods of time. I think I also get a little tense when I paint because I want very much for every painting to be a success. Oil painting, thankfully, makes me take a break after a while as lower levels in the painting need the opportunity to oxidize a bit so I’m not pulling early paint off the canvas as I try to put down a layer on top. 

In any case, here is the original photo. I think the photo is cooler than it should be. My goal will be to paint what I remember FEELING. 

Original reference photo
This is the first pass on the painting under my regular studio lights.

You can see that I’ve done a few things. For one, it’s now cropped into a square and I’ve pulled that roadway back around into the foreground.  I clearly have some work to do. But I’m not panicking yet. There are parts of this I like a lot. 

Messing around with some of the settings in photoshop, I’ve warmed the whole thing and I believe it is the correct direction to go. It was quite warm in Colorado when we visited there and the earth there radiated off the deep red of the soil. So more of that needs to come out. Sort of like this: 

Warmed up version

Glad to have a big tube of burnt sienna . But I can see where my work on temperature will get a workout in this painting.  For the sake of study, here is my value study over my original photo. And a black and white of the painting at this point. So far, I’m happy with this painting. 

A quick value study over top of the original photo
Black and White of current painting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.