View Full Version : Cape Cod Cove - C&C please.

pastel lover
05-11-2013, 10:39 PM
Hello All,

This is one I just finished from another of my Cape Cod, MA ref. pics. I need help from all you landscape painters out there. Something is bothering me about this but I don't know what. Do I need more darks in trees or is the left bank too bright or something else all together? Please let me know what you see that is wrong. I really appreciate it. (Note: the bank is not near that dark IRL.) Oh, and if anyone can think of better name, please let me know! Thanks for looking & any thoughts or comments you have. I really appreciate it. 9x12ish on AS, mostly GA & a few pencils.


05-11-2013, 10:55 PM
Well I like it very much and the colors are beautiful. I am far from an expert on pastels but one of my paintings I was working on in a pastel class bothered me so all the students looked and the one thing they all picked up was the main tree (pt of interest) was dead center. I think you may have the same thing bothering you here. Did I move the tree? No I cropped the picture (it wasn't my favorite and I did like it cropped with my main tree off towards one side.). Pam

pastel lover
05-11-2013, 11:19 PM
Hi Pam,

Thank you for your thoughts and you could well be right. I have considered bring the BG trees on left over to visually connect with the large tree. I don't think I like the negative of sky in that area. Truth is, I have looked at it way too long. And to make things more confusing, it looks totally different - like a different painting - when the light changes. I have never done one that changes so much. However, I think I will play around with photoshop & see if a crop will help. Thank you very much.


05-12-2013, 02:55 AM
I don't think that I'm gonna be any help to you because I really like what you've done here. Love the reflections in the water. I could sit and look at this for a very long time and wouldn't find a problem at all. Great job!

05-12-2013, 03:59 AM
But...your work is excellent ! Very beautiful work.

05-12-2013, 05:08 AM
try cropping the left edge just up to the " T " .

on my screen , some trunks in the grove-left appear pale blue/gray which , to my taste , is distracting -
the right edge of that grove feels more harmonious to me .

same feeling of distraction with the value of the dead tree towards the right .

nice rich colouring , warmth , mass , detailing overall !
- maybe that's why those areas feel ' off ' to me ...


05-12-2013, 09:25 AM
Just wanted to mention that even though I cropped my picture I feel yours is too nice to crop but maybe just shift a little right that large tree or add more things to the right of it. Also no problem if you leave as is since it is really beautiful. I was just trying to figure out what may be bothering you. Pam

05-12-2013, 09:51 AM
It is a lovely painting and executed well, but I am going to say that the most likely thing is the lovely tree in the center...
I have gone back a few times to look again, and this is the thing that keeps pulling at my eye, and I miss everything else that is happening.
Moving that tree to the right (and/or closing that V shaped negative space will make a huge difference I believe, in your bothering. :)

05-12-2013, 10:07 PM
Beautiful work, Tanja... is this an actual place? It's wonderful. The colors are gorgeous.


05-12-2013, 11:06 PM
You have been given advice from more qualified people than me, so will learn from their comments. I think you did a great job on the foliage and I love the reflections.


05-12-2013, 11:14 PM
It is lovely.
But to me, the trees on both sides need something.
left side maybe it is the trunks all lined up or the color?
maybe some low very distant bushes/trees in the gap, very blued & soft , it might help to connect the main tree w/ left side.:confused:

right side maybe more detail /clarity for the front ones?
or more blued if they are supposed to be farther back?

pastel lover
05-12-2013, 11:35 PM
Hi All,

Thank you all for the wonderfully encouraging comments & helpful suggestions. I am considering which "fix" or combination of "fixes" that I want to try first. Hopefully, I can post pics tomorrow.
twiglet - thank you so much for your kind comments.
toniov - thank you.
Ed - yes, I think a crop is in this one's future. The blue/gray you mentioned is actually blue/green IRL. I did that to attempt to make that area recede though I could probably warm it up with a little purple. Thanks for the suggestions!
Pam - I thank you for trying to help me put a finger on what is bugging me about it! And it is definitely not too nice to crop! Especially if it solves the problem & helps me learn for future pieces. I just appreciate everyone here giving their opinions. There comes a point when fresh eyes are need on a piece because you just can't see errors anymore. Thanks again.
Tressa - yes, I think a crop to definitely going to happen, I just don't know where yet. Thank for mentioning the V shape negative space. I knew there was negative space problem but I was thinking the left side of tree. Since you said that I see the V shape is echoing the shapes & size of the trees on either side only upside down. Thanks.
Annette - Thank you! Yes, it is an actual place. It was on Cape Cod, MA, US. & it was breathtaking. Probably part of what bothers me is my painting doesn't do it justice.


05-13-2013, 04:27 AM
The problem with working from a photo is that the camera takes in every element of the scene, reproduces it faithfully, and as a result, it is very hard to know exactly what to look at, since everything is equally important!

When we look at a scene with our naked eye, we look at SOMETHING first - the thing which first attracts our attention. Everything else, in our peripheral vision, is slightly out of focus, and only comes into focus when we move our eyes around. Try this for yourself. Go into the street outside your home. Look at the house directly opposite. Fix your view on that house. Now, allow your awareness to take in the rest of the scene WITHOUT MOVING YOUR EYES. It is really hard, isn't it. Almost impossible. You have to move your eyes, to take in the rest of the scene. Well, the same thing happens when you look at a painting - you have to move your eyes around to take it all in, and sometimes, that is NOT helpful, you actually need something important as the focus of attention, and other elements of the scene need to be less important.

let me show you this. In your scene, you have VERTICAL trees on the left, your central tree has contrasty trunks which ANGLE LEFT, and on the right of the picture, you have a STRONG CURVE of a tree trunk. None of these elements has any relationship with each other, they are all quite different.


Then, you have three "LOZENGE" shapes, two of them right on the margins of the picture, and one dead central. None of them in comfortable locations visually. The ones on the margins look like they are trying to creep out of the picture, the central one is dead central, never a good place for a focal point.

All of these elements are fighting for attention! Too many different types of tune playing here, all at once!

Now here is one possible crop, with the tree trunks softened so that they are less important. Now we know for sure that the focal point here is the white flowering bush. That is one important element - the main focal point. The horizontal of the bank is another, which is echoed by the trees which run across the image (which have echoing verticals in their trunks, but these are very secondary and subtle), the horizontals of pink and yellow/gold, and the horizontal strokes on the water, also running across the image. All of these horizontal elements support each other, and they do not fight for attention with the white flowers, which are clearly the "ballerina in the spotlight".


There are other ways to crop this, but I hope this explains that it is not just about finding a crop which feels better, tho that is part of the story. It is about finding a way to crop a picture, which gives you a better design within the rectangle, with elements which harmonize with each other, and echo each other, rather than compete with each other.

The good thing about the picture is the strong, confident use of the pastel; it will not be too difficult to bring it to a good conclusion, once you have clearly worked out how best to do so.

05-13-2013, 02:08 PM
Tanja, beautiful scene, beautifully rendered, gorgeous colour! But, it is "extra all". I hope I'm not too brutal when saying that you've basically crammed in 10 paintings into one. Several sections of the reflections in the water would make wonderful semi-abstracts, the tufts in the water are two other paintings or more, the flowers at least two paintings, etc. All would be beautiful by themselves, you can get a series out of just one reference.

What do you want to say with the painting? That could be "look what a beautiful spot". And that needs to be qualified a bit more: "Beautiful spot, especially the flowers". Or "beautiful spot, see the reflections".

I'm right now trying to solve "beautiful spot, isn't the bridge pretty -- but the tree and its reflection is making the right third of the painting dark". How can I redesign it and create a lead-in. I'll downplay "interesting city rooftops and chimneys" and really keep subtle the "cute café on jetty", in order to make the landmark bridge get the lime-light (but there are clearly two more possible paintings in the ref).

So in my opinion, it is a design question, not a painting question, if that makes sense. You definitely can paint!

And what a great lesson from Jackie!

05-13-2013, 03:44 PM
Really good advice from everyone, but wow, you really have the skills. keep at it and work on composition.
beautiful painting.

pastel lover
05-14-2013, 02:15 PM
Hi Everyone,

Thank you all for helpful suggestions & comments! I really appreciate it. I have included a revised version implementing most of your suggestions. What do you think - better or worse? I have also included several crops. Which do you prefer, if any? Thanks again.

Jackie - Awesome lesson. Thank you for taking the time to do it.
Charlie - Yes, it is busy. I have a real problem with that. Especially since this was such a beautiful scene.
Derek - Thanks, you are kind.
Ian - thanks.


Crop 1

Crop 2

Crop 3 & 4 - I thought about what Charlie said about multiple paintings

Crop 5

Thanks again. Tanja

05-14-2013, 09:04 PM
Hea! Now you have a series...make prints and sell as individuals and tell them the real value is having the entire set. I love the painting so whichever one makes you the most satisfied. pam:wave:

pastel lover
05-14-2013, 09:41 PM
Hi Pam,

That's a great idea! 1 painting, 5 ways. Cool a whole series with the effort of one painting (and, of course, the help of all you WCers). Thanks Pam, I appreciate you.


pastel lover
05-21-2013, 12:13 AM
Hello All,

I was hoping the some of you could help me choose a crop from the ones above. Which one do you like?


Donna T
05-21-2013, 12:03 PM
Nice revision, Tanja. It seems that the background has been quieted a little. I think crop 1 works well but that's just one opinion. Crop 2 seems to put equal importance on the top and lower half.

05-21-2013, 01:06 PM
Lovely work - I especially like the water edge and reflections close to the edge.

John Palmer Fine Art
05-21-2013, 03:19 PM
Beautiful painting('s) Tanja, love the way you have rendered the plants/trees and the reflections are amazing!

05-21-2013, 03:26 PM
like your revisions .

the crops all have potential .

crop 1 looks okay .
my suggestion to crop the left edge to just left of the ' T ' in your signature
keeps the water open and expanding while the reflection of the reeds - low rt corner
has the texture of the water and the colour of the reeds which , to me is interesting
and the reed texture lifts my eye out of the corner towards the foliage .

just a thought . :)


05-21-2013, 03:52 PM
I like crop 2, the two vee's in the water (sky reflections) are repetitive, and don't work for me. They fight for attention with the white flowers, which are almost centered. In crop 2 the scene seems more intimate, and the attention goes to the white flowers, which are now a bit off center, much better. There is a sense of place, whereas in crop 1 it seems to be just a bit too much. Beautiful painting!

05-21-2013, 04:31 PM
like Chris's comment .

a sidenote - a painting by richard mckinley is shown in a promo from a website
and the composition is similar , but w/o flower cluster .

hope that's good for you to know . :)


05-21-2013, 04:58 PM
You have been given advice from more qualified people than me, so will learn from their comments. I think you did a great job on the foliage and I love the reflections.


Ditto, great job Tanja! My first choice is Crop 2, second is Crop 5, but I do like more of the trees on the left as they are in #2.

05-21-2013, 06:19 PM
Crop two does it for me. The shape and curve of the pond bank takes one right back to the break and path through the trees.

pastel lover
05-22-2013, 01:30 AM
Hello Everyone,

Thank you all so much for your thoughts, suggestions & help choosing a crop. I really do appreciate it. This one has been a real struggle for me from the start but with everyone's help maybe it'll get there yet.

Donna T - yes, I calmed down & massed the BG way down, although it really doesn't show in this pic. I agree about crop 2 giving equal importance to the top & bottom. Thanks for your vote.
Woodenpalette - thank you for your kind words.
John - thanks so much, I really appreciate it.
Ed - thank you. I actually took my signature out of the revision but crop 1 is about left of where it was. I also like the bottom right reeds, but am thinking of removing the left ones. Thanks also for the tip about the Richard McKinley's painting, I'll try to find it. (He's one my favorites)
Chris - thanks for pointing out the two vee's, I hadn't noticed that. That's a vote for crop 2. Thank you for your comments & vote.
Kris - thank you for your comment & vote. And another vote for #2.
Tressa - thank you for your vote & explaining why you picked it. No one has commented on the bank shape, I changed it up some - nice to know it helped.

Thanks again, Tanja

05-22-2013, 02:08 AM
Well it takes a village to raise a child and it seems the same is true of a painting sometimes. Wonderful advice and lessons here and the result is impressive. I too like crop no. 2. As has been said you sure can paint. Well done.

pastel lover
05-22-2013, 04:19 PM
Hi Jen,

Thank you so much for your lovely comments and for your vote. Looks like #2 is going to be the one. Yes, some great advise & lessons. I dearly love the folks here at WC as everyone so freely & kindly shares their knowledge & advice. I am in a position to meet a lot of aspiring artists & the first thing I tell them is "get yourself on Wet Canvas, now, you won't be disappointed." Thanks again.