Copyright © Richard Harpum
My wife and I are frequent visitors to her sister in Phoenix Arizona. In 2008 we all drove up to Utah, visiting several national parks. Having already seen dozens of beautiful arches, I did not expect to be as impressed as I was by Mesa Arch in Canyonlands, which my wife suggested I should paint.
The arch is balanced on the edge of a high cliff and is actually much larger than it first looks. However, the most unusual thing about it is the way the light reflects from the cliff face below onto the underside of the arch. This is most pronounced at dawn and this scene depicts the sun rising over the La Sal Mountains creating a dramatic red glow under the arch.
The most challenging aspect of this painting was getting the perspective right in the initial drawing. Because I do not have a wide angle lens, I had to refer to several photographs and video footage to create the overall view and to obtain the detail in the various sections of rock. I wanted to position the rising sun over the buttes in the middle distance so as to show the effect of the rays shining through the tiny Washerwoman Arch and around the neighbouring buttes. I then positioned the sun using a golden ratio (Phi - 1:1.618) across the picture, and adjusted the shadows and highlights accordingly. Despite the challenges, I am pleased with the final result, which I hope coveys the drama of this spectacular location.
* Prices in US Dollars and Euros are those used by the artist but may vary depending upon the prevailing exchange rates and the method of payment.
** A Studio Proof canvas print is a giclée print on canvas that is hand-embellished by the artist using the same medium as the original painting (usually acrylic), signed, numbered and then coated in 3 layers of UV-resistant varnish. It is then mounted on stretchers ready for framing.
*** Giclée printing is an advanced form of ink jet printing that applies a wide range of colored inks that are designed to be light-fast for at least 75 years.