I am a newbie here.
I have been trying to get friends to tell me where their eye flows over this painting... where the focal point of their gaze comes onto the canvas and where it goes from there and where it lingers, etc. and then leaves. That sort of thing. Interested in creating a composition that keeps the eye on the image. The thing is... my non-artist friends can't do that for some reason. They can't consciously describe where their eye was and how they looked at the painting... artists can do that!
Please let me know what you think. I have a some people to add to the painting and the answers will determine where I place them and what they will be doing... where they will be looking, etc.
Hope to put this back out for a final "Critique" when finished. Working on a morph start-to-finished video to release with this painting too.
Jay D. Anderson
Jay, here goes, my eye enters the right corner and follows walkway pattern left and is barely stopped from going out of painting by the curb and light. Then I move right, across street, to the corner building and my eye looks around the corner signs. Maybe because the carriage is empty, my eye reads it as a carriage but doesn't linger. People, someone on the far walkway heading toward the corner and breaking the large dark building. not sure. It maybe just me but I find the moon in the left corner drawing my eye up and out of the picture. I like what I saw as I visited your painting, great night scene.
My movement is similar starting with the right corner following the walkway pattern left but not finishing to the left edge. then it pops up to the green light. I do not read the signs. I then see the carriage (not lingering either) but notice the wheels and then I jump up to see the red light. I then look at the painting overall and see the moon.
Edit: I looked at it again and my eye for a quick second went to the center of the painting, but because there was no focal point, it searched out the lightest areas- the bottom right. Again no focal point so it followed the strong light diagonal.
Welcome Jay - and thanks for the invite to comment on your painting. How large is your painting? I like the content and ideas you are expressing in your work.
As I look at your painting I want to see the carriage as the focal point but the walkway and the corner of the building appear to be. I find the walkway a barrier and that it carries too much of the painting, it's a strong presence. Do you need it? The walkway seems be levitating on the right hand side and behind the carriage.
I wonder if the walkway were eliminated and reflections of the carriage strengthened on the dark wet streets from the carriage wheel reflections that you show to the carriage itself and with wet moon reflecting surfaces in puddles and reflections of the horses legs where the walkway is, could this serve as a pathway into the painting?
You could have larger wet reflections of the moonglow angling from the left corner into the painting like what you have at the left corner edge, not unlike that splash of light on the street in front of the horse but more directional. The moon could be larger but not necessarily brighter to show it is giving a strong light on the street, like some of those big gorgeous moons that light up everything.
Your extra people could be the reason why the horse and carriage are standing where they are.
Sharon Repple. Thanks... yes... no people yet and the large dark building has some store front space that is well lit so just a rough in at this point. Most folks come into the painting on the left and I made a few changes to the cross walk lines to get them from going off the edge. Some of the white needs to be toned down... too bright compared to the background. I'll do that. Hadn't thought about someone coming in on the bottom right but have some ideas to resolve that and involves having person on the left corner looking at the passing carriage. No people on the carriage yet either to add interest but there will be a couple in the mid seat and a driver with top hat in the front. Thanks much... this helps me already.
KatPaints. Good work... thanks. Yep... no focal point as of yet but there will be. An empty vehicle right now and I think I need to do something with the intensity of the white against the darkeness... the Ti white draws too much attention I think.. the straight lines of the cross walk draw too much also... still working things out but this helps.
A friend of mine told me she came onto the left edge... her eyes followed the crosswalk off the right edge... that is that. I said, "What the heck? You mean your eye just went on to the next painting... never to come back to check the rest of my painting out?" She said, "That is right..." Drats! I think she is pulling my leg though.
Valerie Malley, It is a real scene... I waited for a long time in the cold for the carriage to move into that location to get a reference photo to start from but some glitches to work out. So if I took out the cross walk the people of Fredericksburg, Virginia would know righ taway that something is a miss... I could tone it way down though and that is what I may do... make it far less noticable.
The painting is in Phi dimensions of 44x72" or there abouts...
Thanks... good info here to get me going... most appreciated.
Sorry, Jay, I didn't explain myself well. I think the people should possibly be placed on the walkway moving from left corner towards the buildings which I think you were considering. Another comment, I am really surprised that a number of people entered from the left. My eye follows the crosswalk lines as they go from the widest point on right to where they narrow on the left. Also, I failed to mention that this painting has great perspective.
That's a large size painting. Look forward to seeing your finished piece.
I actually like the walkway (don't remove it.) It gives the piece a strong abstract element and movement. Overall, the painting has a mysterious ghostly feel.
I am one to always call it a day and call it finished.
Jay, my eye goes from the walk across the painting up to the green light.
Then I look to the right quickly, but returns to the green light and stays there..
Good start, keep going...
Sharon Repple.... Thanks much. I was reading some Gestalt Perspective stuff regarding eyeflow and the article said that since we read left to right we have a "trained" tendency to come onto the frame of a painting left to right. I think... though it sounds logical-- it may not be correct. More people come on the bottom corner... or bottom middle... I will post another progression. Have added a few people and the driver of the carriage roughed in now and leaning back looking over his shoulder to direct the viewer back. Also broken up the lines of the crosswalk and toned them down so they are less "in your face." Lightened the sky... first layers towards a sunrise. I have a long list of issues to work through. Appreciate your comments very much.
On the perspective... I used a camera that mimics human eye to take a reference shot (Canon 5D, FF, 24mm diffraction limited lens at f3.5) that gets me very close to what we actually see though my Angle of view comes up just a bit short (not by much). I do the image flattening work in software (same as our brain does) and then use Photoshop to mod to my liking before I use as a reference. But I use up about 40 reference shots to finish a painting and some life study. After I begin my painting I check the pespective on a computer... [photo is a perspective trace I did after initial rough in drawing] this has 3 vanashing points that I used that are off the edge a few feet or so and line up. Still as I am painting I often throw the perspective off kilter and I need to recheck from time to time. I believer our minds have wonderful image processors... in fact I think that accounts for much of the portions that science says we don't actually use. I think we use it all... about 70% subserving imaging in some way or another. We might look at a painting with prespective that is off and not know conscously it is off... but we feel a "flatness" or some awkwardness to it that our non-verybal internal image processor can clearly see.
J.b2... and all...
Green is our (us humans) most favorite color... we see it the best anyway (555nm wavelength is the green at the center of our visual spectrum). I like this sort of science-art mesh stuff. lol
Adding some folks.... but got to find the right people and scale them correctly... I do that mathematically using Excel spreadsheet software (computing angular size) of objects that are familiar. I will post some analysis stuff I have done on this one... My wife and friends think this is nutso... you may be amused. I stand behind Van Gogh on this... I am not worried about looking like I am nuts for I know I am the only sane person left on the planet (you and me... <wink>).
The image below is a Satellite photo of the Fredericksburg, VA street scene I am working on. I have about a 70 deg FOV. I take many photos and also some studies on the scene (I go back many times)... today I am going there to shoot the freshly fallen snow... and possibly later tonight to get the reflected light from the neon, etc. Center is me... I am the center of my universe! lol A measured photo allows me to set the accurate angular size of things from my POV in the painting. Cyan lines is the angle of view, #1 line is due North (I use this to get light angles accurate for the time of day, etc. (year, month, day, hour, min, sec) including accurate star fields in the background skies, etc. Red line is the center point for my painting.
If anything you might just get a chuckle out of this... my paintings all have a dimension in space and time so that I keep tabs on location, direction of view, date, time, etc. but I may change up many things I still want the pattern of the stars in the correct place because I am also an astronomer and me and my astonomer friends are confounded by "random sprinkles of stars" many artists do. Well... most of the starfield is below the horizon in my painting anyway. But 6 mag stars and brighter are in their proper place... and also the moon. Though I have to adjust the angular size fo the optical illusion we experience when we look at the moon on the horizon (it looks about 3x larger than it actually is to us). We are funny beings... our eyes see NOTHING.... our brains do... but our brains take artistic license in manufacturing our vision so we all see a different reality.
Here is an earlier shot... I am working out issues... and roughing in a drawing. Umber but some Sharpie pen too... getting to a point where I will trace out the perspective to attain some degree of accuracy in it. I often "play"... take the image one way or another just experimenting and then back again sometimes. I work without a pallette... masstone out of the W&N paint tubes... just like putting toothpaste on a toothbrush... much later I go to a pallette and mostly glazes at that point. I often put in color too early... cause I am dying to see what it is going to look like in the end! I do go for full dynamic range in the foreground anyway... and partial to night paintings or low light and often single source of light. So this one has mutiple sources and each a different color and this will not be easy for me to work out mentally... will take some doing... as a kind of mental "ray trace" from each light's perspective and projection direction. The reference is just a dry road... no reflections... so I have to contrive most of this. Such as the wagon wheels reflecting in the road (here I am a bit off... I correct that later). But I do have some older references taken at night with a wet road to look at too.