View Full Version : Take a Break

06-28-2012, 03:43 PM

Title: Take a Break
Year Created:
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 20 X 24
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

Recently I have started setting up my own still life set ups and have been painting from them.

Would appreciate having any helpful feedback on composition, design, technical execution..pretty much any and everything.

06-29-2012, 12:31 PM
Lovely work. The only issue I have is confusion with the plate or dish the apples are sitting on. At first I thought it was a plate sitting on top of a bowl. If so the white part under the blue plate has some issues that are confusing me. Is it a bowl or a white reflection? It appears the plate is sitting on the silver platter on the left end but up in the air on the right end. Maybe it is just me.. see what the other's say.

06-29-2012, 01:55 PM
I agree that the plate appears to be resting on top of a bowl. Its reflection to our right is of the blue band around the top of the plate, which also does not make sense to me.

The other thing I notice is the perspective. The table edge, the edge of the platter to our left, and foremost items seem off. I think the table top needs more depth and its front edge might need adjusting. The foreground doesn't seem to be quite on the same plane as the items at the back. The platter's shape looks off, on our left. I think if you bring out that handle and edge shading more it might correct.

Maybe part of this is due to photographic distortion? The picture appears to have been taken on an angle.

The apples look so real, as does the silver and glass. The roses exquisite. I think the shape of that left apple also looks too oblong.

hth! Very sensitive and beautiful rendering!

06-29-2012, 04:34 PM
Thank you Christine and song bird..thank you so much. I am going to take a second look at how the blue plate and the reflections are. I thought I portrayed them pretty carefully and in my set up, saw that the depth of the plate was slightly lighter and warmer and the reflection was little darker and cooler and that's what I painted. But I will take a second look.
Songbird: I do have the image at an angle, photographing these paintings are proving to be a real challenge but I have to say I am little confused about your point on perspective. I have the tray set up at an angle and with edge on our right almost sitting on top of the table's edge (width of my table is very narrow) and the left away. You are right, the platter on our left side needs more refinement. About the apple..hmm.it was an oblong apple!

Thank you and really appreciate both of your extensive evaluation.

06-29-2012, 04:52 PM
If I cover the painting and look at individual things - the teacup, the teapot, the vase of flowers, the plate of apples, the translucent fabric… they all work. And they are all quite lovely. But when you put them all together as a painting, it no longer works half as well as the items on their own. I think because of the different ways you have painted the different things.

The painting as a whole does not work for me. It is confusing. For example: you haver this lovely coffee cup in the front right that looks loosely painting, meaning you can see some style in the brush strokes - it is not "photographic-prefect painted", but instead painted with character, and very charming IMO. The fabric is also painted this way, and brilliant imo. But then you have the silver teapot behind it which is painted perfectly, as if it was a photo placed in the painting. Then you have the busy red swirly background behind it, which is painterly again. And these red swirls compete with all the busy things in the foreground. Another example, you have tightly painted apples and plate, and then a loosely painted silver lid thing, which is sort of floating somehow, to the right of the tightly painted teapot. Then you have a vase of flowers, exactly at the edge - so I can not tell if that is an actual vase of flowers, or a painting of a painting of flowers that is part of the red background. It's like trying to fight with perspective and distance - your front things should be in more focus than the things behind them. Or at least all the things should have the same amount of focus.

06-29-2012, 06:52 PM
I have the tray set up at an angle

I did not realize this at first, it kept looking like the shape or perspective was off. It still feels that way when I look at it even though I know the handles are there now. More definition, shadow and depth might help with that.

Interesting point Allison makes re a mix of techniques, being both painterly and perfectly defined items. When I look at it, it seems the teapot maybe could be more painterly in order to match the rest of the painting. I think everything else looks painterly. Oh, and I guess a little more loose on those beautiful apples.

To describe the perspective issue I see, it feels like the back of the table is tilted up rather than flat. It might just be a lack of shadow or change in values. The platter has the same feeling. I don't get a sense of their horizontal depth which gives the effect of being tilted upward rather than one of looking down upon them. Book does this too (the angle of the spine?). The teapot also seems to need some grounding with shadows.

06-30-2012, 12:13 AM
Aside from all of the above comments, I would take the red out of the table cloth. You have so much red and I feel a little cooling off would help. I also feel that you have two styles of painting here. Your objects are so carefully done and the background is so loose. They don't go together.

06-30-2012, 03:11 AM
The perspective is slightly off, this is causing the problems that you and others have noticed

The ellipse which creates the rim of the cup must match the plate the coffee pot and the silver plate. This is a common problem.

The reflection under the plate does not seem to have any origin???


06-30-2012, 08:25 AM
Thank you so much for all your wonderful and very helpful feedback. I could stare at a painting for days and not know what's going on and but after reading your posts I exactly know what is missing here that I hope to achieve.
Now coming back to the painting, they are all painted the same, with values and temperature but it is how I treated the edges that is making it look tighter or loose. I am a follower of Gerhartz's teaching and his words to me are sacred. He keeps talking about the tight and loose aspects of a painting and how amidst those big abstract brushstrokes you can have a tight area and lead the eyes in certain parts of the painting. Eye is not a camera, we do not see all the parts with equal focus, so naturally certain areas are loose and certain are tight. Gerhartz very successfully incorporates this in his own work and he is a fan of fechin and always refers to his use of lose and abstract v/s tight and realistic. In the following images, the first one is be Gerhartz himself and the second is Fechin's.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jun-2012/33409-gerhartz_flowers_1.jpg


You can see the, that it doesn't matter if it is in the foreground or background or right next to the focal area, they are blending in the two different styles. In fact Leffel constantly talks about using edges instead of values to control the whole painting and I see that in Sargent's and Schmid's work too.

Their focal areas are so tight and everything else is an abstract painting.
Then what is wrong with my painting..well, for starters I am not at the level of Gerhartz and Fechin and Sargent and Schmid, if I were I wouldn't be here :) . Gerhartz also keeps talking about unity and I think that's were the problem happened. Things are not uniting and is not a part of a whole but existing independently of each other. This is my first still life where I set up more than 1 or 2 objects but I in my mind I still painted them as I would paint a still life with one object. I have a feeling that if I had a lyrical flow from one thing to another it wouldn't have mattered what my style is or what styles am I mixing. What do you think?
And yes, the other is definitely my drawing skills and the perspective issues, well that is relatively easy to fix and I am going to go back and take a second look at that. Even that may not be as easy but at least it is there right in front of me to measure.
Thanks again everyone...really appreciate your feedback.

06-30-2012, 09:58 AM
Those are beautiful images to strive for. Very lyrical in nature. Such strikingly beautiful color harmony.

I think in your painting, it's the teapot and apples which don't seem to combine both the tightness and looseness within them for that overall painterly look. They are quite tight and realistic looking throughout (except for the finial and tip of the spout on the teapot, which are a bit more relaxed).

Another thought. Perhaps more contrast with the table cloth to offset the platter and tray items?

06-30-2012, 12:30 PM
Songbird: " Perhaps more contrast with the table cloth to offset the platter and tray items?"..I agree. You are also on the mark with the edge qualities of the apples and teapot...I just need to take the brush and fearlessly destroy some of the edges and let it flow in to the forms that are next to it. I distinctly remember when I was painting it, my hand changing it's hold on the brush, when I was painting the glass vase and the flowers or the tea cup v/s apples and the tea pot...I need to be fearless!

06-30-2012, 12:43 PM
Sounds like you have a good plan :eek: Frightening, isn't it!

Enjoy :cat:

Jody Schmidt
06-30-2012, 09:58 PM
Gerhartz loose and tight thoughts are unintentionally followed by so many, including myself, mostly due to lack of attention span. The problem with is that many do not take care when choosing the loose and tight areas: they just focus on details where they want and leave the rest 'loose' and get 'lucky' only occasionally. Someone may focus a few extra seconds or minutes on an eye to get just enough representational character to create a focal point, thats it. The rest is supposedly intentionally abstract, but if Gerhartz is to be given any credence, then the rest would be just weak and lazy. But, nothing on THIS page fits that focus+lazy=unintentionalGerhartz effect. These are deliberate applications.

As for your painting, I think the best aspect is the clashing visual patterns, and not the compositional arrangement or the contrast between loose edges/brushtrokes and tight ones. Those do not distract from the key patterned characteristic, but are not in and of themselves particularly noteworthy. It's a cluttered throw-together that may succeed when all is said and done. These types of compositions MUST be tried over and over. You never know when you will do one that will resonate with thousands of attuned viewers, or yourself, once done. Thus, this one partially surrenders to chaos and has a powerful contrast of patterned elements: my favorite parts.

But, the far and away best part of this (imho, of course) is the focus of the more centered flowers in the arrangement and the peripheral ones are blurrier and looser. That is just a wicked awesome note of lyrical poesy: such contrast between the same elements on a small section of a painting surface. This is one of those elements that will please some and frustrate others, cause it seems arbitrary. But, it is what makes it like you are taking a chance, putting it out there! Nice!

07-02-2012, 09:37 AM
Jody: I appreciate your taking the time out and carefully going over my painting in such detail. Thank you. And your remark of the clashing visual patterns is also particularly interesting to me because I was very aware of that aspect and rearranged my set up at least 15 times to come up with something appealing. Also the first area that I attacked in this painting with a 'race against time' factor in it were the flowers and my only concern was to get down the essence of the important ones before they wilt. Now that I dissect this painting I see that area is closest to the quality of the artists I respect the most. It flows effortlessly and has a spontaneity.