Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mesa Light and Spiny by Colin Bell

Mesa Light and Spiny by Colin Bell

Anyone who has ever painted in waters can appreciate the work of Colin Bell and  this painting is no exception.   Mesa Light and Spiny captures the beauty of the desert landscape using the right painterly language. After having painted in waters, I am impressed by Colin's loose style. It looks easy, but trust me - it takes a lot of experience, confidence and artistic skill to create such a work.

The painting is constructed in a a triangular shape with the butte dominating the upper centre of the work and with two cacti on the lower angles. The butte is warm and rose hued. The surrounding hills spread out like outstretched arms, and its easy to imagine them embracing and even capturing the lower cacti.

There is a delightful simplicity about it all.  There is the sky, the butte, the hills, and the cacti.  Everything else is  suggested by deft brushwork and loose flowing lines.
The work is reductionist and the viewer's attention plays back and forth between the butte and the cacti.

The hot colours of the earth are balanced by the cool blue sky and Colin interprets the desert terrain with warm earth hues blended into his greens. The heat of the scene is reinforced by the pinkish hue blended into the butte's cast shadow.

Its no accident that Colin should have identified with the light in this work. The painting is balanced by the touches of white canvas showing as clouds and hilltop edges, and  by the bounce of light in the bottom right canvas.

It looks deceptively easy to paint but try it sometime.  Work like this takes several years of work and experience to accomplish.  Well painted Colin!

Artist's Comments

I was surprised and amazed at your critique.  I expected some harsh words!  The painting was actually painted back home in Calgary, from a black/white print off my computer.  I took the photo in Sedona in late February, with temperatures varying from +18deg C and slightly below freezing (we had some snow one night).  I did several plein-air paintings while in Sedona, but left them all at the ALT Gallery there.  A couple of them sold, so I was encouraged to paint a second set using my photos for reference.  I was captivated by the feeling of light in this scene, and introduced the path and the prickly-pear cacti to add foreground interest and balance the composition.

You are welcome to visit Colin's Bell, by clicking here.

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