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lpiper2 wrote
on 19 Feb 2009 10:06 PM

Trying to get some feedback on this seascape.  Not sure what's wrong/right with it, but something is off.  Let me know what you think.  Acrylic on canvas, 16x20.  Lydia

 

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dcorc wrote
on 19 Feb 2009 11:00 PM

Hi Lydia

This is a nice painting, but I think what it lacks is "punch".

The thing that bothers me about it is that it seems very "busy", and doesn't have a focal point. I think this is because it doesn't have a clear value-structure.  

It can be very useful compositionally, to try to divide a picture up into a few large shapes, and use a limited number of values in the scene, massing the values together somewhat. The effect of this approach is to create an image that grabs you in a thumbnail view, as big abstract blocks of lights and darks, or perhaps of colour blocks. 

Try to simplify, to make a "big statement", try to grab the viewer's interest from right across the far side of the room.

Any help?

 

Dave

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MLevenstein wrote
on 20 Feb 2009 8:03 AM

My suggestion would be to create more interest in the foreground; possibly by having stronger light-dark contrasts, interesting brushwork or detail. Very nice scene.

My hobby - Pet Paintings and Drawings: http://miriampaintings.blogspot.com

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MaryML wrote
on 20 Feb 2009 8:42 AM

I agree with MLevenstein.  I almost wrote something similar earlier.

I like this painting.

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lpiper2 wrote
on 20 Feb 2009 9:29 PM

Dave:

Thank you for the comments.  I think I understand, particularly about the "punch" and value structure.  Although I like the scene, it seemed kinda blah.  However, I'm not sure I understand about the dividing the picture, limting and massing the values together.  Can you recomend some paintings for me to look at to get an idea?

Lydia

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lpiper2 wrote
on 20 Feb 2009 9:32 PM

Miriam & Mary:

Thank you for your comments.  Are you talking about the immediate forground, where the tuffs of grass are, or generally, the closer to the viewer, creating stronger contrasts?

I appreciate you advice.

Lydia

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dcorc wrote
on 21 Feb 2009 7:03 AM

 

Lydia:

Dave:

Thank you for the comments.  I think I understand, particularly about the "punch" and value structure.  Although I like the scene, it seemed kinda blah.  However, I'm not sure I understand about the dividing the picture, limting and massing the values together.  Can you recomend some paintings for me to look at to get an idea?

Lydia

 

 

One way of thinking about it is that the image needs to work as a thumbnail, as clear patches of light and dark, or of colour, so that it has an abstract pattern when seen small and slightly blurred - this is what will stop it from looking "blah". I think that large-scale structure is one of the things that demonstrates mastery - and conversely, a neglect of it is commonly seen in those still learning.

For example - in portraiture, general proportion and likeness is not about details:

Still recognisable as Lincoln!

Or look at the overall structure of Constable's "Salisbury Cathedral" blurred out:

and how the composition is built of a few strong value/colour masses.

This is why some paintings look interesting from across the room, even before we can make out what they actually are. This can be thought of in terms of being good abstract composition.

Here's another painting with that "across the room" thing going for it:

Sargent's "Wertheimer Children" 1902 - again, it's got a bold composition... and when we get closer, we see

Let me also show another example here, Gérôme's "L'Eminence Grise" - there are some wonderful colourist things going on in this painting, which I suspect is how people may mainly look at it

but I think Gérôme is also doing something different, namely value massing. If we look at the lightness channel from an Lab image:

We see that the middle range of values is very compressed (if we were looking at this as a b&w photo of a scene, if the figures were removed, we would regard it from the point of view of a photographer as "thin", and "flat"). But Gérôme's juggled with the values available to him, and arranged his composition carefully - the light on wall and steps makes up, together with a couple of the courtiers, a light diagonal band:

while the the figures at the base of the stairs make up a dark group, balanced in a sort of crossed diagonal, with the plainly-dressed monkish cardinal himself.

Dave

 

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lpiper2 wrote
on 21 Feb 2009 2:13 PM

Dave:

Thank you!  This definitely helps.  I think I'll take some of your suggestions and play around with the image in Photo Shop to see if I can create an abstract that has some of the compositional and value qualities you are talking about.  I can then take that back to the painting and see what I can do to punch it up. 

I really do appreciate you taking the time to explain all of this. 

Lydia

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MaryML wrote
on 22 Feb 2009 8:10 AM

I would say more contrast/highlights in the "closer to the viewer" area of the interesting rocks and water.  That's just what I personally would like seeing, talking as a viewer, not as an artist.

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lpiper2 wrote
on 15 Mar 2009 12:26 PM

Here's the updated version.  I tried to incorporate some of the comments I received, particularly with the idea of adding contrast to the area closer to the viewer.  Also played with pushing the mountains to the back, tinting the shallow water to reflect the sky and added some color and contrast to the grassy area.  Let me know what you think.

 

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SuzieB5 wrote
on 17 Sep 2009 6:17 AM

Bonjour,

I like the action of your waves. I can almost feel the wind.

SuzieB

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kusterer wrote
on 15 Oct 2009 4:05 PM

Big improvement in the "punch" department.  I know what my mentor Linda Minkowski would say (at least from viewing this digital image, which often are more "washed out" than the original acrylic,):  1. the focal point wants to be in the nearer left waves so that's where the brightest lights have to be.  The trick of putting dark rocks there to make the whites seem whiter isn't pulled off, other waves in the distance are whiter.  2. We can't tell where the light is coming from, so no shadow darks in the rocks.  3.  Join the shadow-darks of the rocks so that you have the mostly light surf contrasted with the mostly darker rocky shore.  Some darks in the surf of course, as you have, and some lights in the rocks.

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