View Full Version : Courthouse from the Alley, facing south

09-14-2003, 04:28 AM

Title: Courthouse from the Alley, facing south
Year Created: 2003
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 17
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This has been worked on twice since it's last post here. It is currently too graphic. I do this occasionally: sacrafice atmosphere for specificity and then get at it in reverse. All those confusing bright colors in the foreground should eventually indicate this crazy plant that decided to assert himself there all of the sudden. I thought about trying to ignore him, but finally gave into the challenge presented. We'll see if I make it.

In progress ... the usual issues apply

Matt Sammekull
09-14-2003, 04:43 AM
feeling a bit intimidated to reply to your posts, not having the knowledge and insight you have on the making of art.

But to me, this is a very good painting. The first thing that caught my eyes was the bright green bushes in the left corner, but I then read you comments and see where you're going with this.
The poles makes the perspective so interesting and dramatic.

I cant help but to think of the old schools rule: work from foreground to background using green, brown and blue. I see that here, even though you might not have thought about that originally, but it does have great depth.

Keep up the good work, - you do have a lot of talent.


09-14-2003, 05:17 AM
I know you are looking for serious critques but I am not an educated artist so I cant help out in that area :) However i felt moved by this painting as it reminds me alot of my grandfathers work, he was an artist and also designed buildings (state capital building in vermont along with lots in new york)..name moskowitz...anyways although this is wip i really like it alot.. and i am usually partial to more modern stuff !...looking forward to the finished piece..i'm sure you will tame that bush :)

09-14-2003, 07:13 AM
i'm not sure whether the courthouse is the focus of your painting or if you're just making a passing reference to it. if it's the focus, then i think the last telephone pole crowds it. you already made your point with the other poles.

the nearest pole cuts off the building oddly because you didn't continue the building past the pole.

can't say much else because your technique doesn't tell me how the values will work or where you are going.

i like the building on the right. it has a nice chroma for something in shadow. the left side,,,i can't tell if you're having problems or that's the way you build your painting. was there a taller building that you painted over?

shafts of light hitting the ground as you have here has a tendancy to "smack" the ground....like sargent's venetian interiors. it gives the light a personality. so i smacked the ground with some light.

here's something to show what i call "measured distance"....and that is to add a distant light that comes from the main light source. you see it all the time anyway. it's like telling the viewer that the light that hits one part of your painting is also hitting another part or distance. what you're doing is giving the viewer a measuring tool(the source light) to judge distance by. i always put something like that in, even if there's nothing there, and it is MOST effective in shadowed areas. so i added a shaft of light on the ground, this gives you distance where it was once flat.


you can do the same with cast shadow.

have fun with the green thing.

09-14-2003, 07:34 AM
Thanks Bruin, This is good stuff. A little piece of light like that can be so sweet. Unfortunately the last session I worked on this ... when the light really started coming in here, there was a stupid mercedes blocking view of the street level in the alley for at least two hours ... should have called a tow truck. But, I will hunt it down next time ... especially after this insight.

09-14-2003, 07:48 AM
Hi Markr: I don't want to make too many comments on it as I know you are still working on it and they could be redundant. Plus, alot of the technical language I learned from is gone from me mentally. I tend do do things by eye.
The left bottom seems a bit muddled and unsure of what it is and the court house in the very background is a vanishing point and is so central in the composition. I don't know what it is but with street scenes my eyes want to move that vanishing point off center. One side of the street I tend to have take up more percentage of the composition. However, if there was a reason for it here, it is certainly not a hard and fast rule either.
I really like it. I do see what you mean by graphic but it still comes across as loose and atmospheric to me. The wires are about all that seem too graphic.
I personally like the lighting in this scene.

09-14-2003, 08:00 AM
the tendancy to be graphic is especially true when you use framing techniques. there is a conscious or subconscious need to be bold with the framing because to get "atmospheric" might lessen the impact of the frame.

the building and the phone poles are such strong elements, that if you want to hold the idea, they have to remain bold....thus the tendancy to get graphic(or 2-d). and. of course, they are dark against light.

i would have done the same.

09-14-2003, 08:07 AM
adding chroma to that brick building on the left where the light hits it might pop it better, or push the courthouse back, if you so chose.

09-14-2003, 09:18 AM
This is beautiful, the nuances in the sky, the dome in the background...
In my perception, the only thing that needs to work out is the dark foreground area, it seems vertical to me, I do like to see it in perspectief with the light area before the building.
It's a pleasure to wacht your paintings.
Now I see your second post, the same remark stays, I regret you darken the light spot before the building..

09-14-2003, 10:18 AM
i am appreciative of
the sloppiness
the gems of color detail

Lady Rando
09-14-2003, 10:23 AM
I think bruin's addition of the light on the ground helped pull my eye away from the white of the sky between the two front poles. My eye kept being pulled to the rectangle of sky there. I realize it is part of a cloud and that photos don't always represent the actual work in it's true richness so that area may not be as glaring in person as it is here in your post.

09-14-2003, 01:14 PM
I like the resulting lessons-
I envy your lines

09-14-2003, 01:36 PM
I like it the way it is...:) But then... what do I know?...


pero lane
09-14-2003, 01:54 PM
I like it the way it is... But then... what do I know?...


Me too!:D

09-14-2003, 10:50 PM
I forgot the lesson!
Milt, that was something...
The measured distance thing.... can you do a monograph for us?
Here is a favorite of mine (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=40231&highlight=shaft%20sargent) about that slap of light, with that amazing Sargent!
......Iffffff some of you haven't seen it!

AND markr, my idea of critique is to explore your success as a picture. You seem to keep telling us you are failing... I guess I am not sure what you are trying to overcome. This one you mentioned, seems to be about the plant. I see it is not there yet, but with the suggestions of Bruin and your diligence, there is no telling where it wants to go, but it has the making of success.

The work I have seen is just watching the adventure.

09-15-2003, 03:36 AM
Originally posted by djstar
I forgot the lesson!
Milt, that was something...
The measured distance thing.... can you do a monograph for us?
Here is a favorite of mine (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=40231&highlight=shaft%20sargent) about that slap of light, with that amazing Sargent!
......Iffffff some of you haven't seen it!
Thank you so, so much for sharing this DJ. This is the kind of stuff I confront everyday. Anyone ... ANYONE ... who is baffled by vision and objectivity should read this thread. Again DJ ... thank you thank you thank you.