Paintings by Steven Harris

From time to time, I will take a photo of something unfinished to show stages of a painting as it develops. 

Finished.  Took about a half-hour to finish, but about a month to decide what to do so I didn't overpaint.  Had to darken the foreground  shore and water near the bank to accent the riverbed and the background.  Added a bunch of submerged rocks in the near foreground.  Also had to cool the shadows in the foreground and sharpen the log in the water with some warmer accents. 

This is another scene from the Guadalupe near Kerrville but further down the river toward Center Point.  Once I found the spot nearer Kerrville and got my sense of where I was, I was able to figure out where this was further down river.  It's another spot I spent lots of time in the summer with my Grandmother when I was little. 

^ After really loose charcoal sketching (I almost never "draw" the painting first but I sketch primary lines of direction), I'm blocking out the composition with washes above and starting to underpaint lightly in order to finalize the composition and start working on value relationships needed to reinforce perspective.  I chopped off the top of the photograph to enhance the composition by moving the horizion up and emphasizing the rocks and ledges in the water in the foreground.  That is what caught my eye in this picture in the first place; the "zig-zag" line from the waterfall in the back to the left along the shore and that then shiftis to the perpendicular line in the rocks in the water.   Makes your eye travel through the painting, hopefully.

Above, I'm starting to work on detail in the water and build up the underpainting in the foliage and the shore line to start getting a feel for how I'm going to coordinate the values and hues as I paint.  Also working on the rocks in the river to contrast the submerged surfaces with the exposed rocks. I'm learning to use color and value variation to get the effect of seeing things just under the surface of the river insetad of just painting all the rocks as if they were exposed and then washing over some of them to make them look like they are underwater.  It's harder, but it produces a much more interesting painting.   

Above, I've been softening the backpainting in the nearer foliage and working on the water and rocks in the river to reinforce the submerged elements and bring out some of the color variation you can see in Hill Country rivers because the water is so clear.   

Above, I'm starting to sharpen the elements in the water, adding shadows and more rocks to fill out the bottom third of the painting.  Also keying down and darkening the foliage in the nearer shore to contrast the far end of the scene where the dam is. I think I've reached the hardest stage where I have to be more and more careful not to overpaint what works as I keep working on what seems unfinished.  Not finished yet - but look to the left to see the next phase.