Phase 1: On a gray toned canvas I drew the coal mines structure and positioned the trees, stakes & shadows.
Phase 2: After sanding phase 1 with a medium grit sandpaper I refined my dark lines & defined the highlight areas with flake white. (The mustard yellow color is from a failed painting. Instead of ripping off the canvas and re-stretching I started this painting over top of the previous one.)
Phase 3: Giving the stones & tree trunks some color, darkening areas and a thin wash of warm color over the weeds/undergrowth.
Phase 4: More color added -- greens & blues in the background, browns and reds in the foreground.
Phase 5: This was when I was trying to decide if the trees in the background should be lighter or darker than the stone archway. I also added some variation of color to the stones to show the light reflecting around in the shadows.
Phase 6. I decided my previous decision to lighten the background wasn't looking right -- so I pulled out the sandpaper again.
Phase 7: Another attempt to achieve the right background value.
Phase 8: Still experimenting with the background. Building up the foliage as well.
20x16, oil on canvas
Phase 9: DONE. The background goes dark again. Glazed the stones & emphasized the reflected light with cool blues and warm pinks/browns. Gave the tree trunk in the foreground a pretty, sunny vine. Darkened the dark areas a little more. Tried to balance out the rich warm colors (of the archway & the tree trunks) with some rich cools (violet blues in the deep shadows around base & cracks in the stone structure). A little red "a" in the corner & she's done!
I'd love to hear what you think of the final or any of the steps along the way. Thanks!