Went home for lunch and tweaked the Sunset Rider:
This is how it looked this morning:
I think it pops more and gives Mickey's mule a little definition and heft. It also gives the burst behind him more intensity.
Meanwhile, I have also been working on twilight desert scenes with creosote in the foreground. I was coming back from Tucson about a year ago and as I got to the rise on I-10 just beyond Casa Grande, I saw this magnificent panorama of reddish lit mountains with the foreground in shadow. Took the rest stop exit and parked. Ran out to the fence and shot off about five pics. They have been sitting in my studio ever since and every time I see them I think, man, I've got to do some of those creosote stands at sunset studies. Finally this last weekend I just bailed in, first with a series of sketchbook studies:
And then a more serious study:
Creosote is the magic desert plant that smells heavenly after a rain. They are reported to live for thousands of years (I'm not making this up) and they are sort of a non-descript looking plant. In person they are a dull, brownish green and when there is a stand of them spreading out across a valley, they blend into a solid wall, with just a hint of desert floor every so often. Really a cool effect.
Meanwhile, back at the 10,000 Sketch Ranch (there's a big brand to put on a cow), I had a quasi-breakthrough:
Notice the subtle cloud values in the upper right corner. What I mean by subtle is that the clouds and the background are very close in value, just a subtle tweak of shading and yet, there is something very powerful in that effect. If only I could do that on purpose:
Well, maybe not. Happy accidents are sometimes hard to reproduce. But I kept on noodling:
Paydirt! Eureka! Not sure, what the hell is happening, but it is happening. Are those Greek torsos? A smouldering Tall-T ?(for Texas); A bronzed David? (upper left); O.J.'s forehead? (lower left); I'm not sure, but this page has an integrity that I have never even approached before. I stumbled here and the accumulation of washes, the accumulation of open minded searching brought me to this wonderful place. I'm not even sure I understand what it is, but it's what I have been searching for on this quest.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's great. Far from it. I'm just saying I was searching for a style and a technique that was beyond my grasp, but I knew if I kept doing the drill, that hopefully before I reached 10,000, something would happen that had integrity, that was beyond artifice and beyond my sophomoric skills.
This is it.