Reviving A Decades Old Capitol Reef Painting

Picture this: an old acrylic canvas, holding within it the essence of a majestic landscape. For over twenty years it sat dormant in my studio, a relic of earlier artistic endeavors.  Not quite sure when I started it, but probably the early 2000’s when I was still doing mostly acrylic paintings.  Although it was an awesome scene, I was never quite satisfied with the painting, and never quite finished it.  As it sat in my studio, my style and technique changed over the years, especially when I switched from painting mainly acrylic pieces to oil painting in the early 2000’s. I embarked to reimagine the piece in oils, and paint right over the old acrylic.

Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Utah, a tapestry of colors woven over millions of years. My memories of this enchanting place date back to the early ‘80s on a six month RV trip all over the Southwest. One of the lesser visited and known national parks in the US, it’s a geological wonderland boasting mesmerizing landscapes sculpted over millions of years. Spanning a 100 miles of colorful canyons, towering cliffs, and intricate rock formations, the park offers a captivating journey through time. Its signature feature, the Waterpocket Fold, stretches like a wrinkle in the Earth’s crust, revealing layers of ancient history. Visitors can explore remnants of ancient civilizations, from petroglyphs etched into sandstone walls to pioneer homesteads preserved in time.

Here is the old acrylic painting that sat in my studio all these years–

This is the photo study I used in producing the painting. It is taken somewhere along the Fremont Vista Trail I hiked from the Fruita Campground in the park late in the day.  Fruita campground is one of the prettiest in the Southwest, situated in a green valley, surrounded by red cliffs and mountains. You will also find many orchards in the valley, where you can pick fruit for free.

Here’s a photo of my 20′ Dolphin RV in Capital Reef. I traveled in this little RV for six months in the winter of 81, and spring of 82 all over the Southwestern US. At the time, I also visited art galleries, and by the time I returned home to San Jose, CA, my paintings were sprinkled in a half dozen or so art galleries all over the Southwest US.

To paint over the old acrylic, first some preparations were in order. I sanded down the acrylic layer to get rid of any gloss and put a little more tooth in the surface.  I then put a thin coat of Liquin over the entire surface of the canvas. Liquin is a quick-drying medium for oil and alkyd paint. Used as an additive in many forms of artwork, it can also be used to bring out the luster in darker parts of the painting.  I occasionally use it as a separation layer between coats of oil painting. 

I then blocked in the scene again with a layer of oil paints mixed with Liquin.  As I progressed through the layers of oil paint, I used less and less Liquin. Here are a few photos of the progression as I worked through the painting.

I left the lower right area undone as I was uncertain if it needed a closeup foreground there.  I finally decided to put in some foreground so-as to push the rest of the scene back. During the process, I first painted a bigger foreground, but then cut it back as it overpowered the vista.

Here is the final piece.  As usual, I’ll let it sit for a while, but might touch it up later.

Capitol Reef, 12x26, oil on canvas
Capitol Reef, 12 x 36, oil on canvas

Here is a slider view where you can move the slider arrows back and forth between the old acrylic painting and the now just painted over oil version.

Hopefully this new painting won’t sit in my studio unfinished for another 20+ years! I have more old acrylic pieces of wonderful scenes, so who knows, I might work on them!