One of my favorite places on the earth is Lake Powell. I could spend my life there. It is so unique because of the clear blue water lapping against the brilliant red sandstone. This whole area was once desert, so the addition of water seems odd, but looks fantastic. The reflections are unbelievable.
As always, I begin by planning my painting. This is done by doing a small, rough pencil drawing which I call a “thumbnail sketch” about 3 x 5. My goal here is to work out the big value patterns, with no concern for any detail at this point.
I begin with the sky and the rocks, saving the water for last. In order to determine where the reflections would go I had to pretty much complete the rocks first. I then lightly sketched in where my reflections would go with a 4H pencil. The image size is about 8 in. by 12 in.
Notice that the surface reflections follow the rules of linear perspective. The intervals get narrower as the ripples receed into the distance and the reflection shapes get smaller. Now the painting is just about finished with the addition of little shrubbery on the rocks and a few more fissures and cracks in the stone.
In the finished painting you can see how the deep dark sky makes the orange cliffs glow with color. This is an example of “simultaneous contrast,” where two opposite colors on the color wheel intensify each other’s natural characteristics.