Bring My Painting Back From the Brink of Disaster

29 May 2014

Lea Colie Wight oil painting, Sunday, oil on linen
Lea Colie Wight's ability to pull subtle but rich color into a
painting composition is one of the things I most admire
about her work. Here, Sunday, oil on linen, 30 x 40.
Meeting artist and Studio Incamminati instructor Lea Colie Wight was a little bit like meeting a favorite celebrity and miracle worker all rolled into one. Lea's execution and subject matter resonates with me, but it is her perseverance and desire to share common experiences in painting that really lights the way, inspiring me to turn works of art that I'd given up on as disasters into paintings worth saving.

"When a painting or drawing goes off track--that can be extremely valuable," Lea says. "Not everyone's painting proceeds flawlessly from start to finish. You have to develop the ability to go into a painting and re-simplify, recognize when it isn't working, correct it, and steer it back in the right direction."

For Lea, the right direction starts with sound oil painting techniques to make works of art that are beautifully painted and foundationally correct. One of those cornerstones is color. "I love the colors that come and go in the human form," Lea says. "The way the color on the pit of the neck turns into this beautiful violet shimmer, for example. If an artist catches that--I am blown away."

Lea Colie Wight oil painting, Third Floor Light, oil on linen
One of the things that intrigues me about
Lea's work is her ability to compose a painting
with visual interest, no matter the subject matter.
(Above, Third Story Light, oil on linen, 22 x 22.)
But seeing color in form isn't all about what is rational. Lea says to get your left brain out of the equation because our subconscious instincts as painters are more often true. "The mind is a complicated computer," she says. "Try to tune in and listen to that and just go with it. It isn't about a 'Candy Land' idea of beauty. There's another side of beauty--something a little bit deeper that has to do with humanity. A poignancy or mystery that goes beyond the surface."

Lea's philosophy and skills with painting--especially her celebration of color that isn't hemmed in by conventionality--have illuminated the creative direction I want for myself and my work. That knowledge is a gift, and after studying Lea's work you can see how well she sees color and how the rich hues she creates. The works are simply a feast for the eyes. I have only one thing to say to that: Yes, please!


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on 8 Jun 2011 12:25 PM

Hi  Courtney,

Lea's painting, Third Story Light, has visual interest but also a perceived perspective provlem with the carpet.  It's floating.also...maybe more shadow under the carpet or less shean at the focal point.

on 8 Jun 2011 12:28 PM

Hi Courtney,

Regarding Lea's  painting, Third Story Light, the carpet appears out of perspective...seems to be floating.  Could be more shadow around the carpet edge or less sheen at the focal point.

KatPaints wrote
on 8 Jun 2011 6:33 PM

Yes Phil there are value issues (highlights and shadows) with the area around the rug and the rug. There are also more subtle issues with the seated woman which would be harder to fix.  When I encounter areas that are not working in someone's painting and the painting is being presented in a non-critique format, I ask myself what change would I make if it were my painting and let it go. However, I do find it interesting that the paintings are being shown in a topic about being on the brink of disaster and making mistakes.

on 30 May 2014 7:02 AM

Wonderful paintings.  Only one thing visually disturbing...the carpet? in the hallway of Third Story Light,  carpet looks like its floating.  

pagnes wrote
on 30 May 2014 12:15 PM

actually it's not the carpet only but also all the inner room floor, it is not in perspective with the corridor, so it seems to be in pendence. It's a pity for a such a nice painting.

wendygoerl wrote
on 30 May 2014 1:35 PM

" Lea says to get your left brain out of the equation because our subconscious instincts as painters are more often true."

--Actually, this isn't true. Color analysis is somewhat "mathy," hence, it is the domain of the left brain. Getting color right means letting the left brain contribute.

And it's not just the rug. The entire far room only makes sense if you assume a higher vantage point than is used for the hall.

on 31 May 2014 1:56 PM

Hi Courtney—

I admire Lea's values and lighting. However, there are basic errors in both paintings. These are supposed to be realistic paintings. As such, basic errors create disturbing distractions that can not be ignored.

As has been pointed out, in "Third Story Light" the perspective is way off. The floor of the distant room is going up hill. This is because the vanishing points of the two rooms are on different horizon lines, a visual impossibility. To make matters worse, the verticals of the distant room's window are leaning to the left. The rug is working with a third horizon line—which makes it look independent of the floor, or floating. This painting is one more example of the necessity of doing accurate preliminary drawings. Much of this can be caught while the work is in progress by using a mirror.

Similar errors exist in the painting "Sunday".  From this view of the scene, the picture should be simple, one point perspective. Yet, the base woodwork of the wall facing the viewer is going down hill. This would not be all that bad except the lines of floor are receding to a vanishing point well within the picture. For this to be correct, the base of the wall should be straight across the the picture—parallel to the base of the painting—with the only vanishing point being the one for the floor boards of the foreground and distant rooms.

I hate to get this critical but the figure looks like she is missing half of her pelvis. An artist who paints this well has to be able to draw better than this. I think what we are seeing is the result of a painter taking short cuts. In realistic art, there is no substitute for sound preliminary drawing.

Regarding perspective, I find it best to work out the perspective in a smaller drawing. This is so the actual vanishing points can be worked with. When completed, the drawing can be enlarged to working size. When ever you are working with a picture having elements that rest on the same surface but are not square to each other, you could be working with several different sets of vanishing points. However, they would all be on the same horizon line. The horizon line is the eye level from which the picture is viewed.


janice2453 wrote
on 31 May 2014 6:36 PM

I like the way the painting looks. If you want it to be perfectly level then take a photograph and be done with it.  It's more charming this way and I would buy it and I bet a lot of other people would.  If she was an architect and submitting design drawings than that would be one thing but she is doing a view into a hallway and a room.  I love it. You can get all hung up on perspective all you want, but to me, being a little off, floating carpet and all is the kind of thing I appreciate.