Posts From July, 2009

Pretty Polly: Professional Close-ups 

Friday, July 24, 2009 4:15:27 PM

Pretty Polly: Professional Close-ups


If you've been following this blog you can look back and see the steps I took to paint, Pretty Polly. Here are the professionally digitized close-ups:


Here are the lyrics, with a vine and two black-eyed susans. You can see the grass sticks and leafy ground cover.

Here's the bottom right: it's a good shot of Pretty polly "a-pleadin' " in vain for her life.

This is good shot of Pretty Polly holding a rose in happier times and B.F. Shelton playing the banjo

This is the main scene on the upper right. To see the full painting go to my last blog.

Pretty Polly: Richard L. Matteson Jr. C2009 

Friday, July 24, 2009 3:10:34 PM


Here's the finished painting of Pretty Polly, professionally digitized. I'll have some close-ups tomorrow.

                                   Pretty Polly: Richard L. Matteson Jr. C2009

Anatomy of a Painting- Part 5 Pretty Polly 

Sunday, July 19, 2009 6:39:53 PM

Anatomy of a Painting- Part 5 Pretty Polly

I guess I'm finished. With this painting I could keep doing details, but I'm going to stop. Here's a rough pic (my camera isn't the best- the colors aren't same as the original) that I did today of the whole painting:

The painting is too big to see the details but at 30" by 40" many of the details too small and hard to paint.

Here's the main scene: Pretty Polly pleading for her life with Willie standing over her.

Here's Pretty Polly "yonder she stands."  I decided to have her holding a red rose.

Here's the ghost of BF Shelton playing the song while the event is happening. On the right you can see part of the shovel.

Above are the lyrics; with two daisies and a vine growing up the right side.


Anatomy of a Painting- Pretty Polly Part 4 

Thursday, July 16, 2009 12:27:08 PM

Anatomy of a Painting- Pretty Polly Part 4

These are the last close-ups showing the steps I've taken painting Pretty Polly. Hope you've enjoyed the process. I'll be finished the painting soon. It's taken almost twelve days with about 7 or 8 days painting several hours a day. Whew! The canvas is fairly large 30" by 40"- it's been tough... Did I succeed? It's not done but overall I'm happy with it.

Here's a Close-up of the lyrics now. The first line is repeated with the second line making one verse- so in reality there are 12 verses. There are two black-eyed Susans on each side and a vine growing on the right side. It's taking shape and I don't have many details left to do. Here's the full painting now:

The background is done- the foreground will need to be done and the last step will be adding some grass growing over the leafy ground cover. I still haven't done the people or shovel but they look good roughed in- I won't do much because overpainting hurts not helps. The banjo picker and the large oak tree are done:

This is the ghostly figure of B.F. Shelton- singing the song while the event is taking place.

On the left is Pretty Polly "yonder she stands." I probably should have used that lyric in my lyric section (done by the Coon Creek Girls and others). I haven't painted Pretty Polly details at all (added some red for the lips- a bit too much tho). I was thinking about having her hold a flower- dunno. Not sure if it will add anything.

Anatomy of a Painting- Pretty Polly Part 3 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 10:48:30 AM

Anatomy of a Painting- Pretty Polly Part 3


I worked on the painting some and here's the full view now:

If you look at the painting in my last blog post- part 2, you can see I added in the some details in the left background and the trees to the left of the big oak (with the banjo picker inside):

You can see the ghost of banjo picker BF Shelton inside the tree and the cluster of trees behind the large oak. Drawing and painting the background and foreground has proven to be difficult and time-consumming.

I started the tree behind Pretty Polly, worked on the lyrics section, added a vine growing on the lyrics:

I roughed in a leafy vine with two black-eyed susan flowers growing on each side.

I'm on the home stretch now! There are still many details to do. My goal is to finish the basic painting tomorrow then add in the details of the main characters and the shovel. I'll also add some grass in the foreground at the end. The last thing I do is sign the painting: RLMJR-09, which will be in the right lower corner.

Anatomy of a Painting- Pretty Polly Part 2  

Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:19:31 PM


Check two blogs before this to see details of the painting yesterday.

Here's where we were yeserday:
Full View: I started doing the bottom leafy plants and grass. The left side was not really done at all.

Here's where we are now:

Full View: Quite a difference! I roughly painted Pretty Polly in on the left side and added the grassy knoll background on the left. I added some shade under the trees. You can see the leafy foreground reaches all the way to the lyrics. Here are some close- ups:

The leafy plants in the foreground are taking shape (right side).

Here's the left side with lyrics- it's starting to take shape!

Profession Close-ups Cripple Creek  

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 8:12:00 PM


I just got my digitized close-ups back of Cripple Creek:

This is the bottom right with the the main scene. That's actually a cameo of me on the right. The difficult thing with Cripple Creek was the canvas was not very big 24 by 30. Painting the details is impossible so you just let the mind fill them in.

I like the shadows on the water and painting the creek.


Here are the lyrics: Bottom Left. I decided to darken them and make the sheet a shade close to the rock colors. You can see the banjo player's feet, but it sure doesn't look like a banjo player! Love that swirling water.

There's the banjo picker! He playing Cripple Creek! The vegetation and plants growing on the rock are bright.

Top right. I like the tree in the middle it really stands out!

Here's the full view (below)





Anatomy of a painting- Pretty Polly 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 12:15:06 PM


I thought I'd show you the process of how I do my bluegrass paintings. First let me say there is nothing more difficult than painting for me- it is not easy. This painful process starts with the lyrics and an idea and slowly progresses to a finished work.

I've been working on Pretty Polly for a week now and it seems like a year. I deliberate over every tree, every plant, every blade of grass. Here's the main scene:

Pretty Polly is murder ballad. The scene takes place in a valley after Willie has "led her over mountains to the valley below." Polly is begging in vain for her life. Willie is standing over her with a knife. The spade (shovel) is pointing toward her. The far background is roughed in- it took forever. The open grave is behind them. As you can see the figures aren't complete nor is the foreground where grass and forest plants grow in the shade of a giant oak tree.

What is interesting is the shovel. It looks real and I haven't even painted it- I just painted around it!

In the foreground is grass and leafy ground cover that grows in the shade. I got some plants from under a tree and set them in cup of water. This is going to take a loooong time. There's a large foreground area, whew! I've made the plants larger near the viewer to add prespective, it's hard to make it look real- I'm struggling.

The banjo player is playing and singing Pretty Polly. The singer actually is based on B.F. Shelton. He's a ghostly figure emerging from the tree trunk. Crazy I know! The main difficulty was drawing the tree bark- it was hard. I've got to finish the background trees (sketched in) on the left behind the giant tree. Nothing is easy...


Cripple Creek- Professional Pic 

Thursday, July 2, 2009 12:44:08 PM

I got the profession digital pic back on Cripple Creek.

I'll have copies (or the original available next week). Please email me at if you're interested.

Here are the painting lyrics:

Cripple Creek

I've got a gal and she loves me,
She's as sweet as she can be.
She's got eyes of baby blue,
Makes my gun shoot straight and true.

Goin’ up Cripple Creek, goin’ in a whirl,
Goin’ up Cripple Creek, to see my girl.
Goin' up Cripple Creek goin' in a run,
Goin' up Cripple Creek to have some fun.

My gal lives at the head of the creek,
I go up to see her ‘bout twice a week.
She’s got kisses sweet as any wine,
Wraps herself ‘round me like a sweet pertater vine.

Cripple Creek's wide and Cripple Creek's deep,
I'll wade old Cripple Creek before I sleep.
Roll my britches to my knees,
I'll wade old Cripple Creek when I please.

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