View Full Version : Stargazer

06-05-2012, 07:48 AM

Title: Stargazer
Year Created:
Medium: Watercolor
Surface: Watercolor Paper
Dimension: 12 x 16
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This is an imaginary composition. I wanted to portray a moment of calm during a night of stargazing. This is part of a series of watercolor illustrations that I've named The Man in the Hat.

I'd appreciate any type of feedback, but more specifically in regards to composition, color, value, perspective and atmosphere. My style is quite cartoony and I understand this might not be everyone's cup of tea, and I would also appreciate any critiques about the figures and style, provided they are relevant to a style that obviously doesn't pursue realism.

06-05-2012, 05:00 PM
Well, this certainly is my cup of tea!! I love every inch of it. In every corner interesting, where-ever I look my attention is attracted. I wouldn't have guessed this is done with watercolor.
I'm sorry I can't give you better advice than to leave this painting as it is.

06-05-2012, 06:15 PM
So original and unique. Gives me a warm feeling. I like this as is....:)


Avena Cash
06-05-2012, 08:35 PM
I think you are a natural illustrator. Congratulations! I think you are using your natural skills beautifully in this project/. Very vivid and seems to be part of a story already, with strong visual integrity yet plenty of variation at the same time.

06-06-2012, 07:32 AM
All in all, this is lovely and original. I can offer some small ideas for improvement:
In the center you've got a set of two trees and another of three trees. These are drafted identically and natural scenes should always be randomized.
The stars are too bright and many are little circles instead of points. While it would be perhaps too tedious to reduce the size of the stars, you can reduce the value a bit with some glazes and that shoud be more like a real night sky.
You've painted black lines around many of the objects in the painting such as the far hills, the blanket, the figure's clothes, the far house's yard and most incongruously, the fire. See if you can kill these lines with a scrubber and the painting will look much better.
The little telescope has three elements like old fashioned marine scopes but no telescope today is built that way. The scope should have one tube with an eyepiece that turns 90 degrees.

06-06-2012, 10:58 AM
I am an avid astronomer, so found your piece really interesting. When I saw the title, I gritted my teeth ready for disappointment and didn't expect anything like what you've done - I was really surprised by what great stargazing atmosphere you have captured. Your piece is not meant to be realistic - you don't need to have the stars the right size and colour for the night sky - if you did, they would be invisible! Your stars are large and close and this is how they feel to an astronomer. Your style is ideal for your subject.
I particularly like your focus on artificial light contrasting with the peace and solitude of the natural night, the landscape lit by the stars alone. The man on his own, with the universe above. I love it. :clap:

06-06-2012, 03:01 PM
Thanks everyone for your kind words and nice, constructive feedback.

@ tgsloth Thanks for the suggestions, they are all very useful and I will definitely take them onboard. However, in regards to the black lines, if you look at these series, the ink outlining is part of it, you could say it's part of the style. I know some people won't like it, but I, somehow, see things with lines when I paint them...I know this makes the illustrations look very cartoony, but I like it! :) In my latest paintings however I'm starting to soften and use thiner lines for the background. The telescope was meant to look old-fashioned, the whole atmosphere is meant to be a bit vintage, so what you say about it makes total sense!

@ Jonny L I'm delighted that you like it as an astronomer and how you got the atmosphere and the placid moment I wanted to portray, thanks for your nice comment!


Avena Cash
06-06-2012, 07:04 PM
I read the black lines as integral to this. Most paintings no way would they work but here I think they are exactly fitted. To me the whole thing looks slightly primitive, it reminds me a bit of folk art, with a similar naive spontaneity. It's a little playful and never for a moment forced.

Similarly, I like the stars, they give it a striking shift of visual texture and yet are not different in a way that is incongruous. They are still spontaneous and simple in harmony with everything else.

06-06-2012, 10:18 PM
I never took that this was a present day scene. Everything fits - even the telescope which is bent comically.

06-07-2012, 01:33 AM
The fire and the lantern add an ambiance to the picture but would a star gazer have lit a fire? Being pedantic I guess but you go out into the country to look at the stars without any other light source to detract from the light show in the sky.

06-07-2012, 09:08 AM
I think your color scheme is wonderful. The yellowish foreground really brings everything forward. The figure is well done for out of your head. Good work!

06-07-2012, 10:11 AM
The fire and the lantern add an ambiance to the picture but would a star gazer have lit a fire? Being pedantic I guess but you go out into the country to look at the stars without any other light source to detract from the light show in the sky.

You are totally right Andrew! I know having such a direct source of light next to you it's probably a very bad idea for stargazing (John who commented above and is an avid astronomer can surely confirm this!)...I did consider that, but thought the contrast of the darkness and the brightness of the bonfire and lantern would add to the composition...maybe he just got cold and needed some light to read his book! :o

Thanks all for looking and commenting, it's much appreciated.