Sierra Morning

While the world is grappling with the pandemic and is inundated in sorrow and suffering from bereavement, far beyond the storm clouds, rays of hope shine in the form of unity of humanity beyond boundaries of countries, race and religion. As the war of worlds emerges, human spirit, intellect, and ingenuity are our defenses. The wheels of the world might be slowing down, but we will never let them halt. As always, we will be victorious. Many thanks to our front-line forces… our medical and bio-research community working hard in the fight against COVID-19.

This situation temporarily prevents us from going to the mountains, but nothing can stop your wandering mind. While I can’t go out and take photographs, here I present my latest painting. This is a reproduction of my favorite painting (Sierra Morning) by one of my all-time favorite painters from the 19th century. It’s an interesting story on how I came cross this painting and how I found Albert Bierstadt.

About 16 months ago, one winter night, I planned to stay in my log-cabin and continue to work on the cabin next day. The only power source, a temporary electric power outlet installed on a pole, gave up on me that rainy night, forcing me to get out and find a shelter outside (hotel). In that hotel lobby, I found a cheap photo print of Sierra Morning (I didn’t know the title of the painting at that time). Despite the appearance of photo print with the glares all over from the cheap glass on the frame, I instantly realized what the original would look like. I took picture with my phone. There was no title of the painting nor the painter’s name on the print. I came home and searched online with the hope that such a talented artist and masterpiece would never be neglected by the world, and that I’d surely find them online. My only information was that one picture of the painting from my phone. With some struggle, purely based on subject, environment and intent that painting was trying to convey, I picked few paintings came up in the Google search. I didn’t see Sierra Morning among them. However, most of them happened to be painted by an American German painter of 19th century, Albert Bierstadt. I felt Sierra Morning must be his work. I was so inspired and started researching his work. Then I found, Sierra Morning at Gilcrease Museum (located in Oklahoma) website. For legal reasons, I may not be able to post the photograph of original here, but you can surely find it online with title and artist name. This is classic example of having a unique style in your art, that works as an invisible signature and identifies you automatically. It sets you apart from others and gives identity. Your work speaks for you. I had similar experience recently at La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain. I hope to talk about it sometime.

Ever since I saw that painting in that hotel, I wanted to paint it so that I can learn the techniques used. No way, I can imagine, getting any where close to the original… but I could learn immensely by trying it. When it comes to painting, I’m still learning to walk. Attempting to paint Sierra Morning is more than a marathon. This painting is my 4th attempt in last 16 months. After spending nearly 80 hours (48 on last one), I think, I have something presentable. I was able to capture some the elements in the painting that I wanted…like lighting and atmosphere to some extent . I obviously learned a ton from this experience.

Inspired by Albert Bierstadt painting “Sierra Morning” (3ft x2ft, Oil on Canvas)

After my first two attempts, I almost gave up on this. After I came back from Spain in December (2019), inspired by Spain old master of the painting (from Del Prado Museum in Madrid), I decided to give another try. Unlike my previous attempts, I wanted to do large format canvases. So I built an easel that can support 5 ft x 5 ft canvas.

When I started looking for large format canvases, I found that the ready made canvases have very flimsy frames. I was afraid that they won’t last longer. So I decided to build my own frames and stretch my own canvas.

It’s an easy process and gives you lot of control on customer aspect ratios of your painting and adding quality base on canvas etc.

Looking back at the work, I made several things on my own, including learning to paint, however, the essence of the painting or intellectual property (IP, as we call in our line of work) is the composition of the painting, which is not mine at all. So this work may always be called an attempt to reproduce Albert Bierstadt’s Sierra Morning…

Any information that you might want to know about any painting technique or building easel or canvas stretching, I’m happy to share information from this experience.

Stay home (I never thought I would ever say that) and Stay safe

2 thoughts on “Sierra Morning

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