Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema’s “An Earthly Paradise”
Late last year an art patron whom I know had recently returned from a trip to Europe with his wife. They had seen this painting in a touring exhibition and as it came to pass asked me if I could recreate the piece. Sir Lawrence was a respected Dutch painter living in England and had achieved both artistic and financial success in his career. His style of realism is different from the usual style in which I paint preferring impasto layers of paint to thinner layers which evolve into the finished piece. So, this is what has been on my easel for the past few months. I was certainly a lesson in patience in bringing all the elements to conclusion. Click on the image to enlarge it. A small note, regretfully the digital color reproduction fell short of the true colors of the painting. The values should be a little darker with better color saturation. After this project of detail and constraint I think that the next few pieces will be much looser in expression.
This view of Cathedral Peak is from the same hike in Aspen’s back country as the previous painting was taken from only somewhat closer to the mountains themselves. The format is oil on linen 18″ x 24″. This was an early fall day that for the most part was overcast with a brief exception when the skies cleared for a half an hour or so before they closed in again and snow flurries began. It felt like winter was not far off, the winds blew through the pines and there was a quietness in the mountains. This view of the peak was framed by the evergreens and lit by the afternoon sun.
This is a scene from are from a hiking trip that I took to Colorado in the early fall of 2012; the painting is 20″ x 30″ oil on linen. The challenge for the week or so that I was there was that the sun rarely came out, mostly the skies were filled with overcast clouds and light rain. On this day on a hike up to Cathedral Lake the sun came out for a half an hour before clouding over again and a snow squall blew in. This painting represents the approach to the lake which is over the ridge in the background at the foot of the main peak.
The sky was a brilliant blue with light wind blown clouds, soon to disappear. The foliage of the growth along the valley floor contrasts with the evergreens and blue spruce. A cloud blocks the sun along the ridge on the left and the mountains show a dusting of new snow proclaiming the start of winter. There are contrasts of complimentary colors and styles of brushwork, the rock formations are simply expressed, the trees are represented in contrasts of light and shadow against the multi-layered vegetation on the lower slopes. There are several other works from this trip which I’ll post soon.
This painting portrays one of my favorite views in the Aspen/Snowmass area. The format is 24″ x 36″ oil on linen support. I was a resident in the area in the 1970’s and 1980’s and skiing was a favorite sport; Snowmass is an expansive ski area with a varied terrain so every time I was in this area of the mountain I would pause to enjoy this view. This scene is from the south east corner of the resort above the lift serving the Elk Camp area. After a short climb you are able to look down the Maroon Creek Valley with the dramatic Maroon Bells in the background.
The challenge that I found in portraying this scene was the absence of a diversity of color. The work became a study in values. Anyone who has observed snow in light and shadow has seen a subtle spectrum of yellows, pinks, blues and lavender. This day was a cold mid winter morning with a crystal clear sky. While it is hard to detect from this digital image, the painting is filled with multi-colored undertones that vary from the cool colors of the shadows to the areas in direct sunlight. An interesting contrast is found between the stronger brushwork representing the foreground ridge compared to the the looser representation of the distant views. Viewing this painting directly reveals a diverse spectrum of colors from the under painting.