The journey of 50 off the 90 begins with an invitation to paint a bit of Montana

Juniper on the rock cliff, MT

Mario V’s


Erica K’s

A couple of posts ago I invited anyone who wanted to the paint the photo of the sandstone cliffs in southeastern Montana to send me their images and I would post them.  I was happy to get one from Mario who took time away from his Soft Pastel News site to paint the cliffs and to also get an image from another blogger and artist Erica.  It is fun to see the difference of interpretation between the 3 of us.  I know Mario told me he did a really pretty quick sketch in about 40 minutes.  I spent about an hour on mine.  Erica didn’t say how long she spend working on hers.  I am happy to share these…thanks so much Mario and Erica!

So here is an observation if not a lesson in lighting from my perspective and I am referencing my work in this… I painted mine in the studio where I use daylight bulbs in the lights.  I then photographed it in the same light.  I tried a few different camera settings and in all of them, the rocks have this warm look to them.  I do believe that if I take this image outside and shoot it again, the tones would be different.  There was no flash with this one, but it almost has that appearance.  I don’t normally shoot images in the studio light, but rather go outside and shoot them in the actual daylight.  However, this is November and it was about 6 p.m. when I finished this – and this time of year, in this part of the world it is quite dark outside at that time of day!

I have done paintings that when  you photograph them, the color alters enough that it just is not right.  I have taken the same image with 2 different cameras and gotten 2 different looks as well…in studio light and in daylight.  When I photography out of doors, I usually do that with a neutral background and in a covered patio area so there is not direct sunlight, but still good light available for the shot.  This usually gives me what I need.

Just last week I looked at the entries for the Northwest Paste Society International Show on line.  Then on Saturday I got to see the show at the gallery.  One thing that I noticed on not just one, but several was how different the images on the monitor looked when compared to what was printed in the catalog and when compared again to the actual image.  It just made me think that when one is taking digital images of your work for a show, try your best to get the image you see to be as close as possible to what that painting is!  Maybe enlist the help of a professional photographer if you are trying to get an image to send to a show…you really want it to be a true representation of your work.

So this is the beginning of the series 50 off the 90…as far as being off the 90…this was pretty far.  It wasn’t that the distance was huge, but it was on a dirt road about 50 miles from the interstate.  There was no gravel on the road, just a graded dirt road that boasted a road sign that said something like “road is impassable when raining or during the winter months.”  I know this to be true.  This dirt is “gumbo” which when wet, will gather more and more mud until you can go no further.  My mother one time said she thought you could use gumbo like clay and do a sculpture with it.  She tried and it worked.  She fashioned some horses and some people out of the mud.  They held up pretty well, never were fired – but she made her point!  Her sculptures were often a topic of conversation and the consensus was that gumbo was good for something!

The second in the series is an image of a little creek in eastern Montana that probably only sees water during the spring and early summer and then dries up and sun bakes over the summer months.  Even in May there were only some water holes on this creek and they were pretty shallow; not long a source of water for wildlife or beef.

There wasn’t a lot of color in this particular place…it was just interesting.  This image was another that I will photograph outside again, even though this is a pretty close example of the actual painting.  Both of these paintings today were done on Wallis paper that I tones with orange pastel.  I used mostly Sennelier and Diane Townsend pastels on these.

So with all this being said….thank you again Mario and Erica for sharing your work.  My best to you all and keep painting….


About bonnie griffith

I am a landscape artist who works in pastels, oils and acrylics. My work focuses on representational studies of the western US. I am basically self taught with lots of workshops and studies with several landscape artists such as Bruce Haughey and Clark Elster. I live in southwestern Idaho, am a native Montanan with a strong connection to the land. I spend as much time as I can in MT painting as well other parts of the northwest. I appreciate getting out in the field and working plein air because there is nothing like completing a painting in the true light of day and visually not being compromised by the use of a photo. In my work, my goal is to produce a piece of work that draws the viewer into the painting and challenges them to explore the scene; get a sense of the time of day, the temperature, the light or lack of. If I have gotten that viewer to step out of their reality and into that painting and enjoy it, then my work was accomplished as I wished. View all posts by bonnie griffith

One response to “The journey of 50 off the 90 begins with an invitation to paint a bit of Montana

  • Erica Keener

    Bonnie, I didn't really keep track of how long I took, but I would guess about an hour and a half. I like how yours and Mario's turned out, they have great depth.I've had issues with photographing my work as well. They always seem either washed out or too blue, although my admitted over use of blues and purples may have something to do with the latter! I've been told by a photographer friend that everyone's monitor is calibrated differently, so the less you have to digitally "adjust" the image, the better.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: