View Full Version : Is This a Lost Cause?

05-07-2013, 08:10 PM
Hi all,
I'm still scraping off the rust from months of not painting, and need the honest feedback here.

I think the painting was doomed before I started, working from an impossible photo. I liked the contrast of the detailed bud and pale almost lost edge flower, but now it's just hideously unbalanced.

The only thing that may save it (I think) is to darken the entire background so the flower shape stands out. This is about 8x10, LaCarte and various pastels and pencils. Thanks!


05-07-2013, 08:12 PM
Wonderful !

05-07-2013, 08:13 PM
Thank you for the kind words Toniov, really appreciate it! What about this drastic crop? It'll almost be size worthy of the Randy Challenge!


05-07-2013, 08:19 PM
This is beautiful all it needs in my humble opinion is to add some shadow on the bottom part of the picture soft shading with no focus just to make the flower pop which is beautiful maybe a bit along the lines of what you have in the top right maybe a bit darker or you could put some out of focus leaves down there to define the edge what ever you do it looks wonderful so far.


05-07-2013, 08:29 PM
Well I like it a lot and as a beginner really admire your talent. Yes you could darken the area under the rose but I think of all the watercolors I admire where the flowers go softly into the background which is why I like this "as is" also. Pam

water girl
05-07-2013, 08:37 PM
As others have stated, it only needs that beautiful gray//blue/violet color, in the same or darker value, in the lower right corner and along the bottom to make that rose come alive. I'd leave the lighter value in the upper left. Seriously, it's a 5 minute enhancement and I think you'll be happy. Do...not....touch....that rose! :wave: It's gorgeous!

05-07-2013, 08:47 PM
Thank you Trudi and Pam! You're making me think about taking another look at this and at the shadowing, rather than an x-acto blade, which I was inclined to do.

Karen :lol: Is that your honest opinion? Ok, I'll try that and maybe repost to see if it's improved.

I think I'm reconciling to the fact that my paintings are more or less bad Hallmark card territory, but some Hallmark cards are very nice. :D Kris

05-07-2013, 09:07 PM
PLEASE don't crop out that soft, lovely flower!!!

05-07-2013, 09:11 PM
PLEASE don't crop out that soft, lovely flower!!!

:heart: I'm weakening.....

05-07-2013, 09:29 PM
Kris don't make me come over there!! It is gorgeous and just needs a little tweak. Would Karen lie to you!

05-07-2013, 09:37 PM
:lol: Subtle Jen! No, and neither would you.

Ok, a modification, no cutting today!

Avena Cash
05-07-2013, 09:51 PM
I think this has a lot of strengths and it doesn't look like a bad choice of photo either. I wouldn't darken the background. I think the weak area has to do with the edges of the large flower. Some of the lines of white marking edges seem like they could be livelier, still with very soft color but with a little heavier handling of the highlights. And maybe a little work to deepen the darks in that pale flower. Not much, but a little bit more definition of the forms with gray and/or violet and again slightly bolder strokes.

I think maybe you used a different style of handling on the pink flower and it's just a little too delicate. Keep it delicate but with a little more edge strength and some clearer marks so it matches a little better what you did elsewhere.

Don't give up!

05-07-2013, 10:54 PM
Beautiful roses Kris! I agree with Karen, what she said!

05-07-2013, 11:40 PM
I agree, this is lovely and just needs tweaking,

05-08-2013, 03:16 AM
Don't you dare crop this you naughty girl. I read the title to your post and thought that you must have got a real troublesome painting, then I saw it. A beautiful delicate rose. I agree with Karen on this, tis just a little tweek.
Kris seriously you need to stop telling yourself that your rusty because you are believing it.
THIS PAINTING IS BEAUTIFULL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

05-08-2013, 05:27 AM
Kris, a lovely delicate rendering, and you're right, it is unbalanced, trust your instincts. There are too many areas of high contrast along the upper edge, which is exactly where you do not want the eye to go.

I don't think darkening the lower bg would solve the problem, as those high contrasts would remain. Play with it in your computer, until you find a satisfactory solution.

I just did one quick experiment, and lessened some contrast, to draw the eye into the painting, and then I thought about the movement of the bud and leaves, and cloned some shapes of leaves into the lower half, and upped the contrast on the open flower. Maybe not the way you want to go -- it is just *one* idea. It is still a bit unbalanced. I'd extend it upwards if there is enough of a margin to do that.


Moises Menendez
05-08-2013, 06:32 AM
This problem happened to many of us. Since you get many suggestions, my personal and humble advise would be to make copies of the painting and try to darken the background with a complementary color. So you will have many paintings or copies and at the end you choose the best.
Then I would darken the leaves so they will recede with the background and add more shadows to the petals so the flower will have more volume. Right now appears to be that all the elements of the painting are in one plane. This technique worked for me many times without ruining the painting.

05-08-2013, 07:45 AM
I don't think you should bin it either.

What I might do, in your shoes, is PUT THE PHOTO AWAY. then, do a drawing or two from your painting. It could be that there are lots of ways to change the composition without losing what you all ready have here.

What about, for instance, bringing in some more branches/leaves/buds from below, coming either in front of the big rose, or behind it, or both.....

this is a VERY quick sketch. You could do your own version, obviously...


05-08-2013, 10:51 AM
Wow, I knew I would get some excellent advice!

Chris, Dea and Twiglet, many thanks for the encouragement (or order in case of Twiglet)!

Hi Moe, now that I have it on my computer I'm going to try various backgrounds before I take another pastel to the painting (or scissors as the case may be).

Thank you! Charlie, I had the feeling, when I stepped back, that someone had started the painting and then my alternate ego stepped in and did the flower, so yes unbalanced. I proceeded to blur the edges of the leaves (they were even sharper!), and carried color from the flower and background into them (pink and blue), but it wasn't quite enough. Your experiment gave it just the right punch.

Jackie, thank you for the gorgeous sketch!! I think between your suggestion of carrying some leaves to the lower part, and "sharpening" the flower, it might just be a go.

I'm going to step back from this one for a while but I'll come back to it and repost.

Again, thanks everyone!

Oh, and a note of caution to all beginners (and I consider myself a beginner), like some indicated, don't rely solely on a photo! I get into trouble when I think as a beginner I don't have instincts, but that's "wrong thinking."

05-08-2013, 11:21 AM
Kris, I'll add to your 'note of caution': Do sketches and thumbnails and value studies *before* starting the painting. I've painted for a while now so I definitely should know better, but I still sometimes jump into a painting headlong, thinking I have it all worked out in my mind so I don't want to waste presious colour time on thumbs/value sketches/notans... I did jump in with a recent painting, and the time I would have spend on prep work was instead spent on brushing off and re-painting... which is much more frustrating and actually takes longer than doing a few thumbs.

The painting? Did I 'save' it? Nope, it is a dud. And I've learned the lesson... again. Sigh.

So, Kris, I don't know if you did prep work, but a value study would have shown you immediately that the pic is top heavy.

One thing hits me with Jackies beautiful quick sketch, and that is that it is very alive. A good lesson on how one can change the shapes to make them more dynamic.

05-08-2013, 12:11 PM
A value study might have shown me that the painting would be top heavy, but I most likely would have painted it anyway, because the photo was so...well, beautiful.

I guess that's why I'm a beginner. :(

I'm thinking that I'll go ahead and bin this painting, it does seem like a lost cause at this point, and try and do some sketches; work out the problems prior. I'm just not sure I have the ability to pinpoint the problems.

At any rate, I think this has been a good lesson for me and for a lot of folks here, so I'm happy to set an example, regardless of if it's a good one or a not so good one. :)

05-08-2013, 01:21 PM
DO NOT bin it. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. I FORBID YOU TO DO THAT. Put it aside, bottom of a drawer if necessary because in time, you will take it out again, and know JUST what you want to try. And will be braver about trying, too.

Do have a look at what I wrote about the little woodland scenes I did recently - my post is still on the first page of the board. They were "rescued" from an old painting, done more than a year back. That is exactly why you should not throw, or bin, your work, and there is SO MUCH that is good about this picture.

I'd like to show you this too, bet you didn't think of this at all:


Incidentally.......my sketch is scruffy and unfinished. I did it in about 3 minutes. And I suffer, these days, with something called "essential tremor" which means I LITERALLY cannot draw straight lines any more, the hand shakes a lot when I use a pencil...hence all the scribbliness. If that makes it look "alive", perhaps I should celebrate the onset of this disability, rather than feel upset by it! Perhaps it teaches us that sometimes, scribbling is OK to do.

05-08-2013, 02:22 PM
I hear and will obey! Actually, I was thinking how whiny my last post sounded...

Yours is a much better idea, and the bravery thing? I SO need to absorb that (I think many of us do). Like you said, what have you got to lose? I think Karl Marx said that...oh no, that was proletariats (just lightening up here).

Holy smokes, no I didn't think of that crop at all! See? I AM rusty! A few months ago I would have thought of turning the darned thing upside down and inside out.

Jackie, I'm so sorry to hear about your "disability" but indeed, it assisted in producing a wonderful, lively sketch. Ok, no binning and no whining for me today.

05-09-2013, 09:50 AM
Lost cause? This is a found cause! Gorgeous! We're always our own worst critics. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and seems like everyone in this thread is enamored with this amazing work.


05-09-2013, 02:18 PM
Colorix and Jackie are like a duo of superheroes swooping in to save the day. What a difference it made to add more leaves to the bottom, and then to rotate the image. Very helpful reminders that I'll try to remember: I hereby commit to playing with different options before I ever toss out a painting.

05-09-2013, 04:19 PM
... I hereby commit to playing with different options before I ever toss out a painting...

YAY! Another piece reconsidered before it hits the bin!

05-09-2013, 05:14 PM
I differ from the others here.
While you may want to darken to bottom, I'd like to see the bud lightened.
It doesn't have a lot of detail and is unfriendly to the lovely pink rose which has become the center of attention. Buds by themselves aren't that interesting unless there are a lot of them.

05-09-2013, 06:14 PM
Hi Lisa, thank you very kind words. I appreciate them very much.

Five, I agree with you here, and I actually DID lighten the bud quite a bit. In the photo it was dark, dark red with no pink at all. But I lacked the requisite guts to really do the job, and that would improve the piece I know!

John Palmer Fine Art
05-10-2013, 09:24 AM
Hi Kris, you have so much advice and I am not a bit surprised your painting has stimulated such interest, it's truly exquisite!