View Full Version : Escape

06-17-2012, 08:30 PM


Title: Escape
Year Created:
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 12x16
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

There's a bit of a story behind this one. I was in New Orleans and while entering a stairwell of a restaurant became intrigued by the dramatic perspective and punchy colors of the red railings. I hauled out my pocket camera and aimed a shot at the moment when a guy was rushing downward; I just caught him. The bathroom was there and this was New Orleans during Mardi Gras so beer sales were brisk as were the trips to the necessary room. While painting off the photo, I began with the red railings and beige wall but then decided that artistically removing some stairwell lightbulbs would darken the foreground and middleground and improve the tonality of the composition. So I post both so you can see the progression of the idea.


06-17-2012, 09:13 PM
great depiction of mood

Avena Cash
06-17-2012, 09:43 PM
Makes me think of Diebenkorn and that's definitely a compliment to your composition.

The similarity to his work makes me end up wishing for looser paint handling and less detail in the lighted area but that is just opinion. It looks great the way it is. The less detailed purple and darkened foreground area seems disorienting, leaving the viewer less than sure whether the stairs go up or down, but that seems to be part of what is so interesting about this composition.

06-17-2012, 09:53 PM
Love it! You executed the perspective well with both lines and color

06-18-2012, 06:53 AM
Warning-harsh crit. I hope that is OK.
I like the original photo much better. It's so obvious, and sometimes obvious works, as opposed to subtle. In the photo, I can see there is a story, a drama - why is he rushing, to or from?, why is there a chain blocking off the other stairwell?, oh my g'd are those railings red - I feel instant danger, warning, but look again, they are more hot pink than warning red, and chipped, maybe the danger is not so severe, maybe even irony or something funny.... Even the little red thing on the top right helps pull the photo together, just one more dab of red and I am wondering - is it a fire alarm or something else... the photo keeps me wondering, and allows my mind to wander to my own story, my own interpretation. YOur painting doesn't do that for me, sorry. The only thing imo better in the painting than the photo is the man's shadow on the wall. In the painting you have made it into a cross, when in the original it is a triangle.

06-18-2012, 06:56 AM
Hey, can I have a go at it?

06-18-2012, 07:06 AM
Fascinating, Allison. And your crit is not harsh. You're merely expressing a preference for an alternate artistic approach to the scene. And you've done it in a most sophisticated way. It's probably the case that if you didn't see the photo, you'ld like the painting but now you have a choice. I hope others weigh in on the same choice. For me, I initially wanted to just paint the scene but building up layers got me thinking that the red was not working (I started with red). It pulled attention away from the figure. And I had a big problem with the negative space of the beige wall on the right. So by darkening the fore and mid grounds, I felt like I solved both problems and ended up with a more purely tonal painting and one which displayed a stronger narrative. But I love the way you've thought about the red playing a positive role in your vision. What do others think?
To Darcy, increasing the detail in the center of interest was definitely intentional on my part so your suggestion that it could be more gestural is another alternate vision for the scene.

06-18-2012, 11:09 AM
I like the red as a colour, but agree with you. The rail would become the subject of the painting if it were bright red. As it is I think there is a story here somehow. Could you try darknening that low wall on the left and making a little more upright than given by the lens.

06-19-2012, 06:02 AM
I love your choise of subjects to paint! It adds so much to it ..

06-19-2012, 07:49 AM
The railing shadow on the right foreground would only be there if there was a light but you have no foreground light so I find that confusing and odd.

I am glad you posted the photo cos I could see what attracted you. May I say that with out the foreground dynamic railing in its brilliant chroma and hue, the painting becomes centered on the man in the light and nothing to draw the eye back and then forward again. I think you original instinct was right.

06-19-2012, 12:19 PM
Excellent crits from Mikey and Marie. I think I need to either darken the left center wall segment or lighten the opposite wall. Regarding the railing shadow, I thought it was cool when I put it in and it is in the photo but sharp eye Marie is right that I can't leave it when I turn out the lights in the foreground. I'm going to fade it towards the foreground so that the painting will be more accurate but I still get a shadow. The idea that without the red I don't have a draw towards the COI is only partially compelling to me as I'm convinced that the brighter, red railing painting is inferior to a much more chiarosco approach. But I think I can pop some reflection dull gleams in the foreground to provide entry.
Thank you and bless you my cyber friends.

Avena Cash
06-19-2012, 04:42 PM
I'd rather see more purples in the other railing, as I really like the foreground better. I like it where it is less like the picture and more focused on paint than depiction.

I think the center of interest in this particular painting will be fairly strong with most approaches. FWIW my eye is quite drawn to those lines and angles and creative paint handling.

Anyway, I think different things resonate with different people. I hope oyu are having fun and success with your reworking and look forward to seeing what comes out of it.

06-20-2012, 05:39 PM
I didn't have time to read all the comments. I do have some critique.

Excellent photo and idea. Composition is very strong and subject works well (probably more so for a photo than with paint).

A dark foreground seems like a good idea for a photo, but in my opinion I feel the foreground should be portrayed more similar to the original stock image. The red railings here are the interesting part of the painting for me; the figure is there to keep the viewer wrapped in the scene.

When working from digital (especially from a phone) sometimes you may want to correct vertical lines at the edges. Our brain does it for us.

Have fun,

06-20-2012, 09:25 PM
OK harsh one warning - well semi harsh.

I don't get any sense of 'escape' or really any sense of any mood at all sorry. The figure adds little to indicate what is happening, and as you said he was probably off to the toilet.

You got rid of the most interesting thing in the photo, the red railing

I think that the over all effect would be improved with flat colour rather than the painterly effect. Keeping the red.

There is no chiaroscuro effect evident here, no modeling or volume development that I can determine.

Strange truth about stairs, they go both up and down.


06-20-2012, 10:31 PM
Ain't art fasinating? The red railing has its fans and it was what, originally attracted me to the scene. But when I painted it, it just didn't work and I hated the Big Beige Negative Wall Space. So I'm sticking with my dark foreground and mid ground. But thanks for looking, posting, and telling your truth.

06-21-2012, 01:27 AM
For ME, the exciting part of the photo is the crazy angles of the red railing and how it juts through the plain wall. To ME, it suggests a pop-art treatment: bold acrylic colors really slapped on and an Andy Warhol approach. Your painting is fine, but I would have just done it differently. :wave:

06-21-2012, 02:50 AM
Without the red railing what have you got?
Without the beige you have red
I would select red over beige any day of the week and twice on Sunday
Not my painting though.

06-21-2012, 05:00 AM
Ok...for what it's worth I will give you my thoughts. I love the photo but also love the image created. I do feel the red would become overpowering in it's original form in the painting. I do get the sense of urgency from the man in the photo. However this feels a little lost in the figure in the painting I wonder if more detail on the figure can bring it out more.

06-21-2012, 05:08 AM
I like your choice of placing the red rail on the foreground in the shadowarea (Greensyster is right about the shadow of the rail on the wall - also it's bending where it shouldn't): it adds drama. The focus becomes now on the man descending and I hope he really did this carefully, you succeeded in posing him looking out of control a bit. It's a pity the rail he's holding with his right arm is a bit out of perspective. But in generally you did very well on perspective (which must have been complicated), for it is rather important in your painting, cause it's part of the telling of your work.
Your work tells and that is what I particularly like in it.

06-23-2012, 04:27 PM
Darkened the midground landing on the left; added some reflections on the railing to give the eye an entry point; quieted the railing shadow as it moves into the foreground. Ecce the final:


Avena Cash
06-24-2012, 08:07 PM
I like it :)