This newly completed painting “Killarney Rocks II” 30×48, has been selected for the 2017 calendar “A Celebration of Canadian Art”

The first step was the 16×20 plein air sketch below, done at La Cloche, near Killarney, while perched precariously on a rock face across the bay. I was with a group of painters, led by renowned artist Don Cavin. We were travelling on the lake by boat, looking for a good scene to paint. As we came around the bend I saw the early morning sunlight catching these powerful rock shapes. But there was no suitable place to set up our easels except for a steep and uneven cliff, which we scrambled up and each found a tiny ledge to paint from.

killarney-rocks-16x20dsc06178adjsm2me-paitng-lkillarney-rocks-sketchp1210962adjsmMy sketch was completed in about 45 minutes. I needed to capture the scene and my feeling of awe before the light changed. The rock structure was covered in evergreen trees but these were left out. I was aiming to simplify the scene in order to feature the massive rock structure. I selected one pine for my centre of focus and changed the colours throughout to convey my emotional response at the time.

It took a while before I got around to the studio painting. But once I set aside the time, I couldn’t wait!

When working up a sketch into a large painting there are always adjustments to make. First I need to evaluate what worked in the sketch and what changes are needed to make a better painting.

This includes a look at the colours, values and composition. Then I have to consider how to make this scene work on a larger canvas. The simplicity of a small sketch does not always translate well when enlarged. The simple, fast brushstrokes can’t be replicated in a large painting. I still wanted a loose, abstracted look but one quick stoke with the the brush would not cover a large section of rock, even though I was now using much larger brushes.

In this case, my canvas is a different format from the sketch, so I needed to incorporate more of the scene. As always I had taken photos while there, so was able to add more rocks on the left and right. But the larger painting needed some more areas of interest. I added some sky and a few more trees. The treatment of the rocks in the studio painting shows more faces and cracks to keep the eye engaged.

I added more of the red/brown and toned down the purple, which may have been overpowering in a larger version. But the overall feel is the same and I am very pleased with the result.

I encourage you to get out and do some plein air sketches. The changing light makes you paint fast and there is nothing like capturing the “feel ” of the place while you are actually there!



About Marianne

For Marianne painting is a celebration of the endless beauty to be found in the natural world and an expression of my concern for its preservation. Her hope is that her work will inspire in the viewer an appreciation of nature’s gifts and contribute to a greater collective environmental consciousness so that we may tread lightly on this earth of ours.


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