Cactus Shadows 2

This 16x20 oil on panel is one of a trio of paintings that I have just completed, all titled Cactus Shadows.

My last visit to the extensive gardens at the Living Desert was in the cool of the morning. The low morning sun  accentuated all I love about cactus - the sculptural quality of its varied forms, and the unexpected color combinations.  Several varieties were in bloom, and I loved the design the shadows made.  

My first step is to do a tonal drawing on the panel in Burnt Sienna

Here I have completed the first layer of color. I seek to find the median colors of all areas while staying true to the values  I made note of in the monochromatic underpainting

When I come back to the painting, after allowing the last layer to dry, I double check placement and proportions and the relative values. I make note of how the colors are working, what areas need to be greyed and pushed back, and where I want to boost the light and color to draw the eye. I spend as long as it takes to get these fundamentals working with my vision for the piece. Then I start in on the smaller details, the rounding of all the individual cylindrical shapes and then all those pesky spines and their shadows.

The completed painting is at the top of the post.