Start With Reference Photos
I wanted to make the viewer feel the majesty and grandeur of rocks. No object is included this time to give the rocks an indefinite scale, so they could only look at the nearly abstract quality of the rock facets.
I began by taking pictures of a rock-cut beside the highway near where I live in northern Ontario. Then I chose four photos and printed them out on 8×11 medium quality paper. I didn’t use photo paper as it was a waste since the pictures were only for reference.
I cut out much of the overlap and parts I didn’t want and cobbled together a reference picture I wanted to start with.
Block in Basic Shapes, Colors
Sadly the sketch on the masonite and the first blocked in area pictures are missing. So To catch up, I minimized the sky to emphasize the rocks. I decided before I began, not to include anything that would put the rock in perspective to allow the majesty of the rocks to dominate. The sky was included to give the hint that this is rocks and not just an abstract painting.
Refining Shapes and Colors
I apologize for not taking more pictures. I kinda got into the zone and moved quickly once I found my overall shape and pillars. To summarize, I put all the dark colors down first and began to put lighter layers on next. I had to keep to mostly earth colors but I snuck in blues in the mid-shadow colors and some reds for the clay and rust portions of the iron in the rock.
As you can see, I added a diagonal shape to the bottom to provide some variation in direction, like a counter-balance to the main vertical direction of the composition. The general idea in a painting is to create a movement for the eye to traverse the whole picture.
It’s important to remember that with knife painting, use lots of paint, be it acrylic or oil. When your subject is monumental like rocks, the texture is paramount. A flat picture of something like rock just loses credibility when it’s a print or a thin application of paint.