The inspiration for Solid Gold came from my gut reaction to seeing this huge golden hill jutting up from the Columbia River on the Washington State side. This side gets intense sun and consequently dries out first in the spring. The grass had long since died and the sun had washed all the color out of it. The intense ‘whiteness’ of the dried grass read as gold. The conifers seemed like they were plunked down in a random way across this hill. They reminded me of black chess pieces because there was so little differentiation in the value within each tree.
The painting challenge was mixing all the light colors and having them read as grass. I like Daniel Smith quinacridone gold for these mixtures because it seems more believable and less chalky than yellow ocher or cadmium yellows. I modified this essential mixture with raw umber and the occasional touch of blue or black to keep the chroma in check.
After I block in the initial colors, I usually glaze them to add some nuance to the tones of my paintings. This is especially true when the range of values is narrow, as in the case of Solid Gold.
Overall this was a fun piece to paint because it seemed ‘happy’ to me. It seems to promise fine weather with the intense blue sky. The cool respite of the shadows beckon during the hottest time of day, and the gold grass seems to invite inspection to confirm its goldenness.
Solid Gold will be featured in my Land, Water & Sky Show next month at Gallery 903 in Portland, Oregon. I will be at the First Thursday Reception on June 6th from 6–8 pm.