recent posts

blog archive

follow dawn's blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts.

the very large triptych, part 5 ~ painting the studies

by | Apr 7, 2024 | Uncategorized

I need to go! I apologized to my hosts. The sky is going to be incredible — I HAVE to photograph it!

That was Sunday, July 2nd, and I couldn’t believe I was bowing out early from a fun party filled with old friends I’d not seen in a long time. But the sky was calling!

I rushed out to RAS’ place, only to find their driveway filled with cars. I knew RAS was in Santa Fe this week, but hadn’t realized they were having a party this evening. They had assured me all along, “Come out whenever you want — you don’t need to alert us before hand!” Yet this evening I hesitated. I didn’t want to crash their party. But DAMN! The sky was incredible!
Laughter and music emanated from inside. I knocked on the door, waited a few minutes, then sheepishly let myself in.

Three hours later, with a belly full of paella and key lime pie and my head spinning with festivity, I was back home in my pajamas. As I stared into the computer screen, my camera downloaded a near endless stream of photos of the evening’s radiant sky.

I returned to RAS’ roof just once more: to capture coral sunrise clouds over the Sangre de Cristos and billowy white mid-morning clouds over the Jemez.. Then I was done: I had all the photos I needed.

Now came the hard part: Culling hundreds of photos to a dozen of the very best.
After many hours this, too, was done.
I was now ready to begin the oil studies.

In June I had begun the preparation of the study panels. Were the dimensions of the Very Large Triptych (and in turn the studies) more traditional in scale, I would have used Ampersand panels. However since the dimensions were unusual, I had to make my own panels. I chose birch plywood because it is strong, durable and smooth — nothing like your typical plywood. Since it’s raw wood though, it requires some treatment before paintin: First a couple of layers of acrylic medium to seal the wood, followed by several layers of gesso to create a smooth white ground. By the time I made my final excursion to the roof in mid-July, the panels were ready.

But before I began the studies, I wanted to do a couple of test studies — “study studies,” if you will.

Test #1: See how the rooftop view translates in oil. I bought a sweet little linen-covered panel and tested painting in oil a scene from one of my first excursions out there:

New Mexico landscape painting in oil of a spring evening sky over Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.

Test #2: See what it feels like to paint oil on my new birch plywood panels. I treated a small scrap panel with gel medium and gesso and knocked out a quick little painting of an early view:

New Mexico landscape painting in oil of a spring evening sky over Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.

Satisfied with my tests, I was ready to dive into the official oil studies. Proportionate to the overall Very Large Triptych, each measured 11″ x 40.” I began with an April sunset, and continued through spring into summer, wrapping up with mid-July.

All in all I painted seven studies:

New Mexico landscape painting in oil of a spring evening sky over Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.
New Mexico landscape painting in oil of a spring evening sky over Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.
New Mexico landscape painting in oil of a spring evening sky over Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.
New Mexico landscape painting in oil of a dramatic July sunset seen from Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.
New Mexico landscape painting in oil of a peacefully magnificent July sunrise seen from Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.
New Mexico landscape painting in oil looking toward the Jemez Mountains and early morning clouds over Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study painting for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil painting and photo by Dawn Chandler.

On August 31 I brought the panels out to RAS’ Las Campanas home. I lined them up in the entry way, and we slowly walked the length of the hallway, considering each study.

After some discussion, RAS narrowed it down to two, and finally down to one — The One I would transform into the Very Large Triptych.

Which one would you choose?

An array of seven New Mexico landscape paintings in oil of the view from Las Campanas, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Study paintings for the 'Very Large Triptych ‘project. Oil paintings and photo by Dawn Chandler.

This is part five of a several part series:

the very large triptych, part one ~ the request
the very large triptych, part two ~ the proposal
the very large triptych, part three ~ discovering the landscape
the very large triptych, part four ~ experiencing sky
the very large triptych, part five ~ painting the studies
the very large triptych, part six ~ new studio & first strokes
the very large triptych, part seven ~ the big reveal


Thanks for finding your way here and for reading my musings. If you think others might appreciate them, feel free to share this post. If you’d like to read more of my musings please consider subscribing to this, my blog.

Meanwhile, find more of my stories, insights and art here on my website www.taosdawn.com. Shop my art via my Etsy shop. And please consider joining me for TuesdayDawnings, my weekly deep breath of uplift, insight, contemplation & creativity. Find other ways to keep tabs on me via my connect page.

Stay safe. Be kind. Notice what you notice.

~ Dawn Chandler
Painting, writing, photographing, hiking, noticing and breathing deeply in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Free from social media since 2020