National Parks Series

I have visited the Grand Canyon more than once, and distinctly remember the very first time I saw it.  We parked in the lot, and my husband went to check into the hotel.  I walked in the direction of the other visitors, sure they knew where to find this natural wonder.  As I walked across the trail that lined the Grand Canyon, I could see beyond into what seemed like an endless, beautifully layered, deep, deep, formation of incredible structures that defied desciption.  Looking down into the canyon, I cried at the shear enormity and magnificence of it all.  This piece is so challenging to me, because it is impossible to capture the Grand Canyon in a painting or even a perfect photograph.  It is GRAND!!  ENORMOUS!  INCREDIBLE! It takes your breath away.  It deserves to be held in the highest regards as something so unique and intricate.  Never-the-less, I am going to try to paint how I see the Grand Canyon.


One of my instructors was always stressing the importance of a good value study.  Where are the darks, the lights, the shadows, the focus????

I used an application I have (Pro Create) to give me an idea of these things by using color.  Here is the value reference picture I will be using.

First Washes

This very first wash was to set the color pallete in place.  I wanted the piece to be a gray/salmon color in the background, where I could then add layers of colors on top to bring out the various shades of the formations.

I sprinkled water over the paint while it was still wet, to add some texture.  I then scrubbed out the parts of the river that ended up with too much color.  

This piece is the largest one I ever did!  It is, after all, the Grand Canyon!  It is challenging to work on such a big piece of paper.  

More Splatter

I went a little nuts splashing water on the paper.  I wanted to create texture and give myself a base on which to see the structure of the formations.  Although it looks strange, I can see where I am going with this. 


I’m starting to add definition to the top layers of the formations.  This is such a basic layer, it will have lots more on top to create the look of the canyon.  


I have been asked how I create my Cookie Cutter paintings, so thought I would include the process here:  
Once I find a good combination of cookie cutter and image, I make a paper cutout of the cookie cutter, often enlarging it a bit, out of heavy construction paper.  I put a bit of tape on the back of the paper and stick it to my watercolor paper.  Then, I go around the construction paper with masking fluid (1).  Once the masking fluid is dry, I sketch the image inside the cookie cutter shape. With the masking fluid still on I start to paint, usually putting down a light wash so I will know where the outline of the cookie cutter is (2).  Once I know I’ll be able to see where the outline is, I remove the masking fluid and them complete the painting (3).