Saturday, December 28, 2013

At Their Mother's Feet- Unveiled

At Their Mother's Feet- mixed media on panel 24" x 30" by Greg Newbold
A few posts back I gave a sneak peek of this painting. Now that Christmas has passed, I can reflect upon the whole process without fear of the recipient's surprise being spoiled. This was one of those rare projects in which the client gave me permission to create something beautiful seemingly without any input or concern as to how it would turn out. I was initially a bit nervous since I had no guidelines beyond the concept of having a mother and six daughters being taught. This was to represent my client Jack's own wife and kids without being a literal portrait. In order to make it work and have a certain family resemblance, I enlisted the help of one of his grown daughters and three of his granddaughters as well an infant cousin to get the photo reference I needed.

Preliminary Sketch
I started with a sketch concept and an idea. i knew I wanted to incorporate a lot of texture and collage elements into the piece as well as metal leafing and I wanted to be free to respond to the painting as it progressed, so I kept the sketch purposefully vague. Using the drawing as a guide, I took dozens of photos, trying to get the angles and poses suggested in the sketch. Working directly on the 24" x 30" birch cradled panel, I then used a composite of many of the resulting photos to make  the final drawing. I had previously applied several coats of acrylic gesso, sanding between coats, so I had a nice surface on which to draw. After I was satisfied with the drawing, I began the painting process by applying the collage elements using matte medium as a glue.

The geometric shapes at the bottom were a heavy cotton rag printmaking paper. The other flowers and leaves were created by tearing, crushing and otherwise molding various weights of paper to create the the shapes I wanted. The shapes were then applied with the matte medium and allowed to dry

Some of the elements were stubborn and required and extra coat of medium to adhere tot he surface. Once everything was applied and dry, I covered the entire surface with a wash of burnt sienna acrylic and began to block in the shapes, colors and values with acrylic paint. I was not satisfied with the tooth of the surface in some areas, so I used a heavy gel acrylic medium in some areas such as the suggestion of the sun at the top in order to get the surface ridges evident there.

Other areas just needed a little more acrylic matte medium stomped on with my trusty beat up 2" house painting brush. From there, I pushed and pulled the different areas, alternating between dry brush and wash, sometimes wiping back the washes to leave the residue in the low areas to achieve the effect I wanted. I envisioned a profusion of pattern and texture but I also wanted the patterns to compliment each other, so I carefully created different patterns for each of the dress fabrics and the sofa. The pastel colors of the girl's dresses contrast well with the more saturated colors of the background. The foil areas were applied with a readily available leafing kit and then they were glazed back to add depth and cut back on the reflective quality which was distracting.

Once all the background and fabric areas were complete, I painted all the faces and skin areas with oil. If you want to try this mixed media approach, just remember that oil will adhere to acrylic, but not vice-versa. Oil is the final layer and there is no going back to acrylic once the oil paint goes on. After the painting was finished, I had it photographed and a 16" x 20" giclee print was created for each of the six daughters while the original was presented to Nancy, Jack's wife. If you remember from the previous post, Jack himself had yet to see the artwork at any point in the process. I was very nervous, but felt confident that it would be well received by all. My suspicions were confirmed when Jack and Nancy made a special trip by the studio to thank me and tell me how much they loved it. Mission accomplished. I hope to do more of these figurative type works in the future.

Previous post on using metal leaf

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

All Is Calm- 16" x x12"; Oil by Greg Newbold
Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin , mother and child
Holy infant so, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

May the love and joy of this Christmas time settle deep in your hearts and that the memories you make may carry throughout the year. May God bless you all, my friends. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Daisy Dog

A recent piece I did for Angels on Earth magazine. The story deals with an abused pit bull dog that a family adopts and names Daisy. Despite the serious neglect, her spirit was not broken and adapted readily to her new home. The concept was to show how content and happy the dog was once she got out of the abusive situation. I had particular fun with all the little details on the dog house as well as the flowers. This one was done digitally over a rough graphite drawing. Unlike some of my previous digital paintings, not much of the original drawing is evident in this one. All the textures were created by hand and imported into the textures palette or applied in multiply mode at the end (crackle texture). 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On the Marquee

I just received this photo of my illustration for A Christmas Carol: The Musical on the marquee of the Footlight Players Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina. It's always fun to see your work "up in lights", so to speak. I originally did this piece for Pioneer Theatre Company here in Salt lake City, but through the magic of the Internet, Footlight found me and purchased licensing rights to use it for their production. According to their director Don Brandenburg, the quality of the art has made a big difference in their marketing and the success of their run. I am proud to have contributed to their success.We are now in discussions regarding additional artwork, so stay tuned.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Winter Delicate Arch

Winter-Delicate Arch; 11" x 14" Oil by Greg Newbold

With Christmas coming on, I'm in a bit of a winter mood. I thought I would do a couple of paintings with snow. I also enjoy painting favorite places I have been. With the wealth of natural wonders that exist right in my own back yard here in Utah, it's easy to find possible subjects and also hard to narrow them down. I could paint the rest of my life and never exhaust my well of things to paint. Delicate Arch is probably the most famous natural arch in the world and my favorite of the many formations at Arches National Park. Here is my take on Delicate Arch in Winter. It will be available at Alderwood Fine Art later this week. Enjoy!
Update: I sold this painting to a collector friend online within hours of posting! Thank you internet1

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Recent Sales- Meyer Gallery

The Sentinels- 16" x 20" Oil by Greg Newbold
Twins- 16" x 20"; Oil by Greg Newbold
Young Angus- 9" x 12" oil by Greg Newbold
Bales- 8" x 8" ; Oil by Greg Newbold
I was pleased to receive the news that four of my recent paintings have sold at Meyer Gallery in Park City. I particularly excited with the news since I joined Meyer just three weeks ago. I have some serious painting ahead in the next few weeks to keep the gallery stocked, but it is a good problem to have, so I am excited for the prospect. I am also looking forward to a long and profitable gallery association. Thanks Meyer Gallery!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Patterns and Textures

Thought I'd give a little taste of a piece that I just finished. I can't show it all right now since it's a surprise and I don't want to ruin anyone's Christmas. Experimentation and exploration are always a good thing, though rarely do I have a client willing to just let me do what I want. In this case, the client said, after giving me some direction to follow "just do what you think is best. You are the artist, I trust you". No pressure. He dropped by the studio once in a while over the last few months, not to see how things were going, but just to deliver installments on the negotiated price. OK. I have never had a client do that and I got a little more nervous each time he declined to have a look. "I trust you" he would say. A daughter who is in on the surprise and who has seen it finished assures me it is amazing and that everyone will love it. I feel a little better now.

This piece exploits the adage that in decorative painting, too much is not enough. I used collage elements, patterns and gold leaf along with mixed media acrylic techniques and oil paint (mainly in the faces, arms and hands). The painting took a lot longer than I anticipated to create, but I love the result. Fingers crossed for a happy recipient on Christmas day.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Studio Offering- This Weekend Only!

At Sunset- Springdale- 6" x 6" Oil on panel by Greg Newbold
Hi friends! Since it is the holidays and everyone is looking for great gifts at a nice price. I thought I would offer up this little piece to a lucky collector. I did this with a piece last Christmas and was amazed at how quickly it sold, so I figured I would try another. This piece is called "At Sunset- Springdale and is 6" x 6"  in oil on a cradled panel. The view was captured last year on a trip to Zion Canyon. You can frame it or enjoy it as is, or since panel cradle is 1.5" deep, you can sit on a piano, mantle or table without support. If you have ever wanted to own one of my pieces but have felt priced out, here is your chance. For the next few days, I am offering this little gem at the straight-from-the-studio steal price of $275. The offer is for this weekend only! Monday or Tuesday, I will be taking this piece to my gallery at a higher price, so don't wait if you are thinking about it!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give Thanks This Day

Saying Grace- Norman Rockwell -  1951
 Hold fast to the blessings which God has provided for you.
Yours is not the task to gain them, they are here;
yours is the part of cherishing them.
-J. Reuben Clark

May we all look inward and recognize the great blessings we have in our lives, both great and small. I have so much to be thankful for this year. I will spend part of this day and every day being grateful for all that I have. I have a wonderful family, great friends, a roof over my head and the chance to use my artistic talents every day. Truly the Lord has blessed me. May he bless and be with you all also. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lion-Fish Logo

The Internet is a strange place. Put something up and maybe a handful of people find it, or then again, maybe it goes viral, at which point it takes on a life of its own and millions see it. You just never know. Sometimes, the right person finds just what they were looking for. Last week I got an email from a swim team coach in Florida who stumbled on a little demo I did for students a couple of years back. I spent a couple of hours quickly painting a little character of a lion fish. As with many of my fish characters, I took the features of a real lion and morphed them with the fish version to get at something that was a little bit funny, menacing and strange all rolled in one. Well, the swim coach was looking for a mascot logo to go on shirts for their team and thought this was just the ticket. We agreed on a little bit of a budget and I did a black and white line version for him for the logo. It's always strange when something like that happens, but you never know who is looking when you toss something into the ether that is the Internet. Keep doing work just for fun and keep casting your lines into the water. Sometimes you get an unexpected bite.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I have Joined Meyer Gallery - Park City, UT!

I am thrilled to announce that I have joined Meyer Gallery in Park City, Utah. Meyer Gallery has been a cornerstone of the Park City gallery community for as long as I can remember and they were at the top of my list when I decided to expand my gallery representation, so I am pleased that they are as excited as I am to partner together. It is a privilege for me to be associated with such a prestigious galley and I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them.

Autumn Dusting- 36" x 60" oil by Greg Newbold
Included in my offerings at the gallery is "Autumn Dusting", 36' x 60"; oil on canvas. Check out all of my paintings that are currently hanging at Meyer Gallery here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Twins- 16" x 20" - Oil on board- by Greg Newbold
Another bale painting. In this one the bales feel a little more like ships crossing on a sea of golden stubble. I enjoyed stylizing the swoop of clouds, pushing the shapes a little further than the actual scene offered.

Texture here was again a very fun result of working with the palette knife as you can see from the close up shots. The abstract quality if these two texture passages is intriguing to me as well. I love to analyze how individual mark making combines to create the overall illusion of detail and adds to the reality of a painting.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting By The Emerald Gate

Waiting By The Emerald Gate- 36" x 24" oil on canvas by Greg Newbold
When I snapped the shot of this palomino horse on one of my outings, I did not think much of it. Mostly because there was another horse nose to tail standing right behind this one. The photo sat on my computer forgotten for a long time. While digging around for subjects, you never know what might strike you in those old files. I loved the lighting on the front horse as well as the swishing tail and figured I would just paint out the other horse. As I refined the composition, I realized that it reminded me a lot of one my favorite Andrew Wyeth compositions. Below is his "Young Bull" from 1960. I have always admired this piece and consider it a near perfect composition in which all the rules regarding tangents and lines are fabulously broken.

In retrospect, this may be one of the reasons why I was drawn to this particular scene. I only make the comparison to point out that as artists, we are all molded by our influences and many of those become so ingrained as to be rendered subconscious. My composition is divided differently and relies on repetition of pattern much more heavily than the Wyeth. I enjoy the series of parallel lines running through the corrugated siding as well as the gate and also the repetition of triangular shapes that repeat through the shadows and beams. The sunshine on the back of the horse also creates a a nice triangle of light. If I had created this composition intentionally as an homage to Wyeth, I think it would feel a lot more forced. I am glad I did not make the connection until after I was nearly finished with the painting.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy Birthday Rodin!

The Thinker- 10" x 13" by Greg Newbold
Today marks the 173rd birthday of one of my all time favorite sculptors Auguste Rodin. Few sculptors have made such a lasting impact on art as Rodin. I have had several opportunities to witness firsthand, the brilliance of his work and whenever I do, I never cease to be moved and amazed at his passion and skill. Perhaps the most iconic sculpture ever created is Rodin's The Thinker.

Rodin's The Thinker
I used this piece as an inspiration and homage when I was asked to create a cover for The Village Voice's literary section many years ago. The articles were all book reviews relating to war, it's aftermath and the effects on the people of such regions. I thought The Thinker would be the perfect metaphor and so I constructed him emerging from the wreckage of battle with gun still smoking. The small flower growing amidst the rubble represents the hope for a better tomorrow. I think Rodin himself would be both pleased and amazed at the staying power his work has had. Thanks for the inspiration and Happy Birthday Rodin!

Check out this nice tribute to Rodin at Artwife Needs A Life

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Sentinels

The Sentinels- 16" x 20" Oil on board by Greg Newbold
I have a thing for hay bales. I probably stems back to summers when we would have to buck enough bales to fill up the hay barn for the winter. In the moment, you hate it. It's hot itchy work and the bales are heavy. If the hay was dense, the bales could easily weigh seventy five pounds or more. Getting the last couple of layers loaded onto the truck was always a brutal effort. Of course with today's modern machinery, the bales are massive and require heavy equipment to remove from the field. These two bales lie in wait like desert buttes for their trip to whatever winter storage destination is their fate. I love the solid almost graphic shapes that these great bales offer as subjects. I also liked working a lot more with the palette knife on this painting.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

#449- A Soft Spot For Sheep

#449- Oil on board by Greg Newbold
If you have followed my blog, you will no doubt remember a few other paintings I have done involving sheep. Growing up, I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with these creatures. Our family homestead where my widowed great aunt lived always had sheep and as she had no children, we took care of them for her much of the time. For a time in my teen years, it was my daily chore to feed, water and otherwise monitor the animals. I didn't always love taking care of the sheep, especially in bitter cold weather, but I loved visiting with my Aunt Mame. These are not her sheep, but they represent the memories I cherish from that time in my life. See some of my previous sheep themed paintings below.

Aunt Mame's Sheep
Winter Coats
Penned In

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Days Are Long

The Days Are Long- 8" x 10" oil on board by Greg Newbold
I have been painting a lot the last few weeks creating new works for my galleries. That's right, I have added another gallery to my stable. This one in Park City, UT. I won't jump the gun just yet, but I will announce formally the new gallery next week when I deliver the first batch of paintings. In the meantime, I will be posting a few of the new pieces over the next week. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Painting Videos Now Up!

Half Dozen- 12" x 20"- oil,  by Greg Newbold

The landscape painting tutorials I filmed with the Kimball Art Center are now up on YouTube. The painting contest for grades K-12 goes from now until November 17th, 2013. Students can upload their paintings to the Kimball Art Center site here. I am told there will be prizes. Here is a link to all of the videos.

The lighting was not as bright as I had hoped, but it was done in house on a budget and overall, I like the results. The information I share will be very helpful if you have beginners in your house or if you just want to check out how I painted this one. Disclaimer: the final painting was finished up in oils since I will be sending it to my gallery.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kimball Art Center Video Tutorial

Half Dozen- Oil over Acrylic, 12" x 20" by Greg Newbold
Last week I had the chance to film a painting demo for the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. They hare holding a painting context for children in grades K-12 in conjunction with their current exhibit "Painters of the Wasatch Mountains". Children will have an opportunity to enter their own lansdscape painting and have a chance at prizes.

Blue taped filming area with my equipment set up
The goal was to break down the painting of a landscape into segments that were each 2-5 minutes long and to make it understandable for young kids without boring older students. Easier said than done. I divided things into segments such as materials, choosing a subject, basic color mixing, value patterns, blocking in, pushing and pulling and finishing up.

The camera was above me on a tripod.
We determined it would be best to paint the demo in acrylic paint even though most of my landscape work is oil paint. We decided that acrylic would be the most readily available of any medium and be the most versatile for younger kids.

my hands were the only part filmed- OK by me.
where the acrylic painting stopped at the end of filming
Filming took place over two afternoons (due to some camera issues) and then I finished the painting up at home. I actually did paint the final layer in oil, but most kids wont understand the difference or even be able to tell when the final painting is flashed on screen. After getting the painting back in the studio, I decided to add some interest and color to the far background. It felt a little too flat, so I added a tree line and some blue hills.

Thanks to Jenny Diersen, Educational Director at the Kimball Art Center as well as the rest of the staff who helped make this an enjoyable experience for me. I would do it again anytime.

I am still waiting to see the final cuts of the demo and I will post the links when I get them. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nap Time

Nap Time- 8" x 6" oil by Greg Newbold
A week or so ago I went to paint on location at our local living history park, Wheeler Historic Farm. I happened upon the sweetest little scene I could imagine and knew I had found my subject.

The Farm had recently been blessed with a new little calf and she was asleep in the sunshine right at the doorway of the barn. As with any live subject, I knew she could move at any moment, so I set to work. I quickly blocked in the structure of my piece and tried to get as much of the little calf indicated as possible.

She kept moving and stretching, but did not get up and leave for nearly half an hour. I got a good indication of what I wanted before she finally heard the breakfast bell and slowly sauntered into the barn to eat.

As I worked a little more on the barn and foreground, I hoped she would come back out so I could get a few more photos, but alas, a fleeting moment was all I was blessed with. Luckily I got a few good photos and was able to finish it up in the studio.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Autumn Dusting - Nearly Finished

Autumn Dusting- oil on canvas 36" x 60" by Greg Newbold
Just about finished with this big Mount Olympus painting. A few more adjustments here and there and I will call it done. This is the largest oil painting I have done to date and I am pretty pleased with it. It's interesting to paint this large and to see what tendencies are accentuated in the process of scaling up from small work. One thing that for sure seems to be coming through is my desire to stylize shapes. I found myself wanting to let the large planes rule and to eliminate non essential detail. For instance, I wanted to let the majesty of the mountain dominate, so I eliminated the entire neighborhood of houses that crouches on the foothills. I felt that the myriad shapes and roof lines were just distracting to the overall statement so, poof, they are gone. It's a better painting as a result. Now to order up a frame.

See the study and block in for this painting here

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why You Should Read "Do The Work" by Steven Pressfield

Ever wonder why so many of our best laid plans fall by the wayside? Do you find yourself second guessing that great idea you had? Worse yet, did you start some grand project only to have it sit idly in the corner of your creative life, mocking you for it's unfinished state? If you answered yes to any, or heaven forbid,  all of the above questions, you are not alone. There are inherent truths that everyone must come to terms with in the pursuit of their creative dreams. 
Steven Pressfield's book Do The Work outlines a simple plan for recognizing these obstacles and funneling them into action. 
The first impediment Pressfield outlines is that in everything we do there are enemies. The most significant of which he defines as "Resistance".
Resistance is Invisible:
Resistance is a repelling force. It's negative. It's aim is to shove us away, distract us and prevent us from doing our work. 
Resistance is Insidious:
Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify, seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is Protean. It will assume any form if that is what it takes to deceive you. 
Resistance is Impersonal:
Resistance is not out to get you personally. It doesn't know who you are and doesn't care...Though it feels malevolent, Resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain...When we marshal our forces to combat Resistance we must remember this.
Resistance Never Sleeps:
Fear Doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.

I was interested to realize how this insight mirrors my own spiritually held belief that "There must needs be opposition in all things". I don't mean to get preachy, but I like it when I can dovetail what someone else says into my own belief set. For me, it boiled down to the idea that the Devil is a miserable being and wants everyone one earth to be equally miserable. Not recognizing the source of the resistance we feel, which keeps us from accomplishing our ideas and dreams, can be our downfall. If we listen to the buzz of resistance, we play right into Old Scratch's hands.

Another thing I took away from this book is that you should:
 "Start Before You're Ready"
Don't Prepare. Begin.
Remember, our enemy is not a lack of preparation; it's not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.
The enemy is Resistance.
The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can't/shouldn't/won't do what we need to do.
Start before you are ready.
How many times do we put off doing the work because we think we need time to adequately prepare? Because we need to "save up some money first" or because we have to "work out some more details". These things, I now realize are part of the litany of excuses we tell ourselves to avoid the act of doing. I am resolving to bypass more of the excuses and jump sooner to the "doing" rather than vacillating in an eternal round of "preparing".  I can fix things on the fly if need be.
Stay Stupid: 
A Child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It's only you and I with our big brains and our tiny hearts who doubt and over think and hesitate. 
Don't think. Act.
We can always revise and revisit once we have acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.

Over thinking is a killer. Give yourself enough time and we can all talk ourselves out of just about anything. Take having kids for example. How many people would really jump into making a family if they really knew all the ramifications, struggles, heartaches and headaches that come along with parenthood? A lot fewer. Why do we do it? Love. The joy we have in seeing a person develop from a helpless infant into a functioning, creative, thoughtful and loving adult. It should be no different when we contemplate realizing our creative dreams. If we love what we are doing, what we want to create, all the "Resistance" in the world should not keep us from starting. And once we start, just like the boulder that rolls down the mountainside,  our momentum is very difficult to stop. Once we succeed in seeing a dream project through to the end, we will never again be subject to the demons of "Resistance".

If you have not read "Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield, I highly recommend getting a copy. Devour it and then eat it up again. It has shifted my perspective on why creating sometimes feels so hard. Well, hopefully not anymore.

Buy "Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield here

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sledding - Finished

Sledding- digital over graphite by Greg Newbold
Here's the final version of the sketch I posted earlier hereI have posted it here. I had a lot of fun painting this one in Photoshop. When I am painting something a little more stylized, I like to pump up the colors a little bit more than I would on something that needs to look more realistic. Even so, I like the balance of more neutral colors that I used on the old fashioned clothes. It seems I have a comfortable process established now that gives me consistent results. If you want to see a breakdown of the my digital painting method, I posted it earlier here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Van Gogh Painting Unveiled

Sunset at Montmajour-  by Vincent Van Gogh- circa 1888
For the first time in decades, a previously unknown work by Vincent Van Gogh has been authenticated. As a painter and fan fan of Vincent's work, I am excited to know that there are yet surprises that the Dutch master can reveal. In  a press conference at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam today, the painting was revealed.

Artwife Needs a Life has done a more extensive post about the work and how it went from authentic, to a fake and back again in the last century. Check out the post here.

I have my very own Van Gogh. Check it out here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sledding Sketch

Winter will be upon us soon enough and I am in no hurry to say goodbye to the pleasant fall weather. That doesn't stop clients from assigning projects that will be published in the upcoming frigid months.  My picture book Winter Lullaby, for example,  was done during the summer months and I even had my kids pose outdoors in the heat of July with basketballs standing in for pumpkins.

In their winter coats no less. In hindsight, that might have been a bad Dad moment. You have to be able to get into the mood of a piece regardless of the time or season.  Anyway, here is the sketch a little spot I am doing for the Friend Magazine. It will print sometime this winter.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Blocking In

Study for Autumn Dusting- 16" x 9.5"- Oil on board by Greg Newbold
Yesterday I dug in to a new canvas, yet another view of Mount Olympus, I shot the photo reference that was the inspiration for this view from the roof of my house. I felt like this view needed scale to convey the power and grandeur of the mountain, so, at 3' x 5',  I am once again tackling the largest canvas I have ever attempted. I did a small scale study to figure out the shapes and colors which has already helped immensely.

Even though I am only roughly halfway through this block in stage, I am glad I took the time to do the study. For the block in, I am using the same limited color palette I chose for the small version: Yellow Ochre, Napthol Red, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and Ivory Black. I wanted to see how tonal I could make this, consistent with the vibe the reference was giving me. I even started the study sans the blue in an attempt at doing landscape with the Zorn palette, but I felt it was just too limiting, so I added the blue. I may yet add a couple more colors as I bring this to finish, but I like the neutral tones and the overall consistency of the colors so far. We shall see. A painting always seems to take on a life of it's own and sometimes you have to follow your gut and listen to what the work tells you. Sometimes the road map only points you in the direction you think you want to go, not that spectacular place that you only get to see if you venture off a little.
Sorry for the inconsistent lighting on the left of the photo. In case you are wondering, the 36" x 60" gallery wrap canvas was prepared with four coats of acrylic gesso that I pounce on with a 2" beat up house painting brush, sanding in between coats, followed by burnt sienna acrylic applied with a kitchen sponge. Preliminary drawing is charcoal which was drawn with the help of 12" grid lines. Not as accurate as a projector, but it lets me get the feel for the scale of the canvas. I will update as the painting progresses.