View Full Version : a walk through the woods

05-16-2013, 02:30 PM
I am dithering about this picture, which is a work in progress. It needs to be recognisably a particular bridle path in the woods near my home...but I am agonising about the big curving branch in the middle, above the figures, which looks wrong to me as it doesn't really echo anything else in the picture ..and also it seems to join two trees together! It actually does look like that when you are standing there, it is like a cathedral arch. I just feel I have made a mess of the overhead branches, too busy and messy.

Here are two versions...see if you agree that the second version looks better than the first - or not. The second version doesn't have the cathedral arch feeling, and perhaps, as a result, has less a sense of the place.



Finally...it rather breaks the rules...those figures are DEAD centre. Might be part of what is annoying me too.....

would be good to get some feedback because a) I cannot see the wood for the trees (har har) and b) I am VERY close to throwing it in the wretched bin.........or brushing most of it off..............grrrr

05-16-2013, 02:54 PM
In my opinion I like both ....is it because you know the place too well & are looking for faults ? I think they are both well painted.


05-16-2013, 04:21 PM
Wonderful mood, Jackie, and beautiful colours!

The figures are just off center. Personally, I don't think that is a problem. Instead of a no-no, it works as a device for bringing the figures quickly to the viewer's attention, and if that is what you want the placement is great.

The arch formed by the limbs: If you need it there to indentify the spot, it works, it is quite cool -- nature forming a gate. You could break it up just a tiny bit, by foliage and or letting one branch go a hair higher.

In my opinion, it is the other branches that confuse the eye a bit. Some of the really thin ones are horizontal (to the right), and then there are plenty of V-shapes. Trunks could get lighter at the very top of the painting. That would make the vertical rhythm clearer, and as the format is nearly square, that'd look great. Like this:


Sorry about the cloned repetitions in the foliage pattern.

I would consider losing the arch, but it is quite charming. Maybe too charming? Or maybe it is the *it* that makes the painting? The cathedral of the woods, sort of.

It will be interesting to see how you solve this.

Edit: with less trunks and limbs at the top, the composition would include a circular motion, thanks to the cast shadows on the path, and the eye would go up trunks, follow the arch and pass over the foliage, encounter trunks on other side that brings eye down again.

05-16-2013, 04:37 PM
The two versions are splendids.

Donna T
05-16-2013, 05:56 PM
It's really beautiful, Jackie! I don't mind the figures in the center as much as the viewpoint: we can see the ground in front of our feet as well as up into the tops of the trees. It's a lot of space to take in. I know you want to keep the sense of place but maybe something like this if all else fails? I think viewers can easily imagine what those treetops are doing without actually seeing them. Your foreground is so lovely - I couldn't crop an inch of it!


05-16-2013, 08:12 PM
I like Charlie's suggestions, as well as Donna's, although the version I most prefer is your own second one. I like the opening of the arch, you still get a sense of a semi secluded trail, but more of a sense of the path going on and on and on...

Both are beautiful and I FORBID you to BIN THIS!!

05-16-2013, 11:08 PM
No definitely don't bin it. It is lovely with a wonderful feeling of space and intimacy both. I like Charlie's version but as you know what you want to convey that is your decision.

05-17-2013, 01:05 AM
thanks folks. I really appreciate the input. I like the crop, Charlie, but I am preferring the taller trunks, they are very much a feature of the area.

I do like the addition of more foliage and will have a bash at that today, keeping the trunks but perhaps somehow emphasising a "circle" of light surrounding the figures.

thanks a lot folks. It's a bit of a challenge from a design point of view, this one, as I am being "dictated to" by the scene rather than forcing the scene to bend to MY will and the needs of the rectangle.....but at least I like the palette and the light.

05-17-2013, 03:31 AM
Think you've had some great alternative suggestions. I personally like the hight. I feel if you removed the curved branch then you would be taking away the heart of the painting. It sounds to me that you painted this area because of the lovely branch. Decision, decisions :)

05-17-2013, 06:04 AM
Well, I did change that archway to a more angled effect....which I am happier about, it echoes lots of other angles within the rectangle while at the same time, creating a little "doorway" for the people to walk through. I have made subtle changes to a lot of the overhead branches, hiding some, and allowing the more "angled" ones to be a little more apparent.

I like the colour and the light, but unfortunately do feel it is a bit overworked, and doesn't have the abstract quality of some of the others in this series. However it is recognisable in terms of "place", which I did need in this instance.. As soon as you put people into a scene, it affects the atmosphere of it quite dramatically - turns it into a "narrative" piece, and that is when I sometimes lose sight of the underlying composition. So thanks for all the fresh eyes on it, it forced me to find a way forwards with it.


Here is another smaller (irl) image, called "Silver Birch Sentinels", which has more of the abstract dynamics I am trying for.


05-17-2013, 06:21 AM
Looks wonderful Jackie!

Peter Forster
05-17-2013, 06:44 AM
I've come back to painting after a break of over twenty years. I am venturing into the world of pastels and if I can produce a piece of work like your " A Walk Through the Woods" I will be over the moon. In the meantime I have picked up some useful hints from the constructive comments. Congratulations

Donna T
05-17-2013, 07:42 AM
Nice changes, Jackie! You kept the sense of place and the light filtering through the trees is still so beautiful. I still love that foreground!

05-17-2013, 08:56 AM
Beautiful solution, Jackie. It is really harmonious now.

I was surprised when you said it was overworked (as it isn't), but I see what you mean. Compared to the others it is more impressionist than abstract. And beautiful!

05-17-2013, 09:11 AM
thanks everyone, really appreciate your comments. You have all been more helpful than you can know.

I am glad you think it is not overworked, Charlie...just feels like it to me now, because of all the working-over and tiddly marks! But I was working on Wallis, so it could take layer upon layer, luckily. Do love that paper. At least, with Wallis, if one feels the need to make changes, it isn't always necessary to brush off, you can keep working over the top for such a long time before it stops grabbing the pastel.

05-19-2013, 06:54 PM
great discussion !

on my screen , your latest post image feels less chaotic by mark , value , and saturation .

try cropping the bottom 5% or so , just above that yellow wedge right of center ...
takes away a centered horizontal , no ?

' Birches ' are very successful for the recognizable and the abstract . :)


05-19-2013, 07:00 PM
These are all lovely, Jackie. But the "Silver Birch Sentinels" is spectacular! Looks like a good direction to be heading...

05-19-2013, 09:17 PM
Ok, I pulled a Photoshop on you. It doesn't look overworked to me at all. AND, I think the composition is great. And to that point, it looks good in any color!


05-20-2013, 01:23 AM
This is such a poetic painting... i love it...

05-20-2013, 02:08 AM
wow, what a nice thing to say Annette.

I am glad someone picked up on silver birch sentinels...I am really quietly pleased with that one. It just popped out. I intend to try for more like that. There is an interesting discussion going on in my post "spreading wings" about the abstract qualities of a painting....


05-20-2013, 02:08 AM
wow, what a nice thing to say Annette.

I am glad someone picked up on silver birch sentinels...I am really quietly pleased with that one. It just popped out. I intend to try for more like that. There is an interesting discussion going on in my post "spreading wings" about the abstract qualities of a painting....