Help my painting please - very flat :(

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on 29 Jun 2015 4:04 PM

Any advice would be appreciated. Here is my painting of my lazy dogs in my sitting room. I always paint in bright colors with a lot of contrast but this painting has disappointed, it looks very flat. Any advice on some simple ways to 'fix' my painting?


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on 29 Jun 2015 6:20 PM

Christy—

You asked if there were any simple ways to "fix" your painting. The answer is "NO".

The answer is "NO" because your painting does not need any "simple" fixing. There is nothing wrong with a flat painting—at least not the way you have painted this picture. "Flat", in this case, means without the deliberate attempt to create an illusion of depth through shading, variation of intensity or atmospheric perspective.

Your basic drawing is very good. Here you are basing the design of the painting on a bright, intense pattern of color elements. Some great paintings are based on this same basic design premise.

I would suggest that once you have an idea for your next painting, work out the general composition in several rough pencil drawings. Once you have a good basic linear design, do several small roughs exploring it as bright color patterns. This preliminary work will open new horizons for you—and you'll have a good idea of where you are going!

Best of luck,
Paul

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on 29 Jun 2015 10:55 PM

Thank you Paul! You are right- it is intentionally 'flat'- wrong technical word to use. I just felt that something was 'off' and I do think the reason for that is the color combinations that I chose. I experimented while painting instead of making sketches ahead to try out color combos. I tried to stay somewhat true to the photo, though exaggerating the colors,  but it didn't quite work to my liking. I'll live with it and move on to a new painting :) Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!

I just visited your website and your water colors blew me away- they are wonderful! I especially loved the one of the woman walking down the street with the many flags. Just beautiful!

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Jay Babina wrote
on 30 Jun 2015 7:59 AM

Paul's right on target (as usual) 

 

Your painting is a lot nicer than a lot of Degas paintings.

A year from now you may look at it with a new set of eyes and then the ultimate critic will be you. Nice work.

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on 30 Jun 2015 10:22 AM

When I first saw your painting, I thought 'love the Love Seat'  😉.  I like the painting as a whole, it quite tickles me.  But I wondered about the white on white of the dog and the rug.  I didn't comment because I wasn't sure what the floor colour was - I was thinking of a wash of a transparent colour over the zebra rug, leaning toward a purple, fusha, mauvish - a bright sparkly colour to compliment the yellow of the sofa and marry well with red, but not dominate - thinking the rug may be white and black but it doesn't have to be.  What would make the dog stand out from the rug and work well with the totality of your colours.  Is the floor blue or purple?  I wasn't sure.

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on 30 Jun 2015 11:58 AM

Thanks for your feedback Jay, much appreciated :) I like Valerie's idea of changing the color of the rug, maybe I'll try that, otherwise leave it alone for now...thanks again for taking the time!

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on 30 Jun 2015 12:00 PM

Valerie, thanks for the suggestions! I played with the image a bit in paint - I haven't touched Photoshop in a while so with my limited knowledge, replace color was replacing the color of my dog as well (ha!). I playd with various shades of purple, mauve etc, and ultimately I liked green there to balance the painting (and meanwhile changing the color of the magazine holder next to the couch to a red with blue pattern). I do like that better, maybe I'll make the change :)

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on 30 Jun 2015 12:30 PM

Christy—

 

Keep in mind that you do not have to play by the same set of "rules" as those of us working in traditional realistic painting. You are drawing subjects that have a direct relation to the real world—however, you are placing them in a world of your own design. You are touching upon the abstract. The white-on- white of the dog and the rug offer a needed relief for the areas of intense color. You decided this on your own. While you must always be open to suggestion, you must listen to your own design sense. Trust yourself.

In many ways you are pushing the edge of the envelope. Study the principles and power of color. Study some of the best. Jay mentioned Degas. I will add another color genius, Van Gogh.

All the best—
Paul

 

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on 30 Jun 2015 1:10 PM

Thanks Paul! I do need to follow your advice of the sketches ahead of the painting; I always dive right into the painting. Some of my favorite artists are Chagall, Gauguin, Franz Marc, Kirchner, Nolde. I would be a disaster as a realist painter (on the contrary, my father paints realism in watercolors). YOU are an incredible artist, I'm truly in awe of your paintings.

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on 30 Jun 2015 1:10 PM

Thanks Paul! I do need to follow your advice of the sketches ahead of the painting; I always dive right into the painting. Some of my favorite artists are Chagall, Gauguin, Franz Marc, Kirchner, Nolde. I would be a disaster as a realist painter (on the contrary, my father paints realism in watercolors). YOU are an incredible artist, I'm truly in awe of your paintings.

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