Evening Above the Horse Heaven Hills

Evening Above the Horse Heaven Hills. ©2010 Lisa McShane. 20" x 30". Oil on Linen.
In December I spent several days at museums in Washington DC studying paintings. I was most interested in Inness, Twachtman and Whistler. But mostly George Inness. Since my return - well there were the holidays & visitors & a bit of flu & a little project of insulating a 117-year old hosue - but I've slowed down my painting to experiment with some of the techniques I observed with Inness and others.

This one has more layers - many, many more - in the opaque paint - mostly in the sky. I placed the foreground in shadow and put the light in the middle - a compositional approach Inness used in many of my favorite paintings.

The foreground is a mix of transparent glazes and scumbles - back and forth and back and forth between the two layers - but with more visible texture than I had been using in the transparent passages.

I used the sky as a way to focus on the light falling on the wheat fields in the distance and to call attention to the disappearing horizon - that's the Columbia River. Where the viewer stands is a high point on the Horse Heaven Hills, with a long, dramatic slope to the Columbia gorge in the far distance. This is an arid area and the winter wheat in the mid-ground gives way to shrub-steppe and now, increasingly, vineyards in the distance. This south-facing slope of the Horse Heaven Hills is one of the best red wine growing areas in the US and is a place where you can see geology clearly at work.

Here is a painting - also looking south - but of the hills that you're standing atop: Horse Heaven Fog.


This is beautiful! I love the shapes of the clouds and the complex colors in the land forms. It smells like someplace east of The Dalles.
Lisa McShane said…
Thanks Katherine!

Yes, it's east of the The Dalles - just to the NE. It's a stark landscape but I love it.