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05.02.2012 ~ cathedral rock, i

by | May 3, 2012 | Cathedral Rock, new mexico landscapes, oil painting, Philmont

cathedral rock, i ~ oil and mixed media on panel ~ 12 x 24 inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2012

A view of Cathedral Rock and the reservoir — the gateway to Philmont’s “Central Country”

Curses Cathedral Rock! You are hard to paint!

When searching for photos of this landmark, inevitably photos seem to be limited to three times of day: Sunrise, midday, sunset.

If you catch the view for sunrise, then the rock is silhouetted. That can make for a beautiful photograph but it makes for a less interesting painting.

Midday the colors are pretty washed out, with few shadows to help describe the volumes and contours of the rock and land. Everything falls flat.

At sunset, if you wait until the sky has some vivid color to it, by the time that color hits, the land has fallen into such shadow that the land and rock are more or less silhouetted again.

Time of day aside, there’s the issue of composition. The typical view of Cathedral Rock is from the southwest side of the reservoir, looking east toward the rock. What a view! It’s gorgeous! And naturally well-balanced, framed with meadow and water and sky. But that’s just it: it’s such a stunning view, it’s the one everyone photographs, so it’s become the iconic view; a cliche. But, it’s accessible. I mean literally. You walk right by it!

What I’d really like to do is get out there when the shadows are long and there are clouds in the sky. Not too many clouds, mind you — just enough to add visual interest, but still allow for sunlight to break through and dapple the scene. Late afternoon sometime.
And then to scramble around and try to get different angles on the scene….

For now though, I’m limited to the images I have available. But if anyone reading this has some good pics of Cathedral Rock, I’d love to see them — even if they are the “traditional” view.

Anyhow, despite the iconic view portrayed here in my painting, I’m reasonably satisfied with how this panel turned out, especially when I consider the inadequate photo it was based on. I struggled to tease out a little more of a sense of sunlight, but haven’t quite hit the mark; my interpretation falls a little flat for me, but it’s okay. I’ll keep trying with other panels.

Below, a few details:

Oh, and this piece — like the previously posted Vermont panels — did start with my “underscribing”. Only this time I ended up concealing all of the scribing with paint. Here’s what it looked like before I broke out the oils: