View Full Version : A Walk through Bluebell Wood.

Sarah Dowson
09-05-2013, 05:03 PM
My First Landscape
I usually paint pet portraits, but have for a long time wanted to have a go at a landscape. A couple of hours out in the sunshine, helped me paint this.
I want to paint some more, but would like some C&C's please. I have a lot to learn.

Mostly soft pastels, Rembrandts, with a very small amount of detail painted with pastel pencils.
On Clairefontaine Pastelmat Size 10"x8"


09-05-2013, 07:13 PM
There is a lot to like about this painting. I have only gone out twice with my pastel class to do plein air and I have a lot to learn also.

I have a book that speaks of making interesting paintings that I really like and the author's number one rule is to never make two intervals the same size. I mention that since you are close to making two shapes almost the same if you look at mountain area ( the height on the right side) and then from the left top of the mountain(lowest pt on mountain) to the top of the page on the left side. I hope this makes sense. Try cropping part of the bottom of the painting by laying a piece of paper over it. I tried it while viewing and I think it makes a better composition. Ps I am no professional so feel free to disregard. Pam

09-06-2013, 05:15 PM
this is really beautiful and vibrant, a pleasure to look at. Well done!

09-07-2013, 04:48 AM
I agree with Pastel65, you have the picture split virtually 50 50. The only thing I would say is, if you think about cropping, then remember your title. If it is "about" the bluebells, then perhaps crop from the top.

Also, you have a hard darker line of blue where the bluebell hill meets the trees at the top, as it were. If you took that down, tonally - lightened it - then the sense of distance would be increased.

Sarah Dowson
09-07-2013, 11:11 AM
Thank you Ebowalker for your kind comments and thank you too Pastel65 and Jackie for your C&C's.

I am so glad that this painting is still on the drawing board as I have been able to go back and work on it some more.

The actual painting is longer than the photo I posted 12x8, I cropped it to 10x8. I wasn't happy with the foreground but the more I study it, the more I like it.

I have softened the bluebells in the distance as per Jackie's suggestion and I agree it is better.
I am still thinking about cropping it to a 10x8 but this time including more of the foreground, thus showing more of the bluebell carpet and less of the trees.

What do you think.

Here is the full un cropped photo measuring 12x8


And, here it is cropped to 10x8 with some of the top taken out.

Your comments will be appreciated. I am leaving it on the board for the time being, in anticipation.

Thank you all.


09-07-2013, 09:32 PM
Like the cropped picture. Beautiful colors and I really like the way the tree branches frame the top of the cropped picture. Cropping has saved me many times. I know never to put the focal pt in the center but I have come home from pastel class on a few occasions and realized my focal point was almost dead center. :lol: Pam

Sarah Dowson
09-08-2013, 04:22 AM
Thank you Pam for your input. It will be cropped from the top.

09-08-2013, 11:41 AM
Just a thought for the future. I know tree trunks are generally brown. But sometimes, they can look, in a painting, a bit like telegraph poles rather than tree trunks. Making them bluer in the distance sometimes helps; making their shapes as interesting as possible helps too...the trunks are often broken up by foliage, by dappled sunlight, and by splitting as they rise.

Perhaps with the next painting, it might be worth thinking about about unifying the colour throughout, using colours in the tree trunks that make them less brown, more part of the scene.

Take a look at the colours used in some of the tree trunks that Richard McKinley paints - you can google him.

These trees are amongst bluebells, but see how much variety there is in their widths http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2013/1805-tree_trunks_with_bluebells.jpg

and these too...see how they disappear up into the foliage subtly, not just trunk topped by green:

I have taken the liberty of altering your image somewhat, see if you like the changes.
1. I linked the landscape beyond the bluebell ground, with the trees above, by bringing some of the trees "down" into the bluebells. At the same time, I added height to one or two trunks, and added more trees too, so that some of them become slightly blurry and more distant. On the far left, at the "bottom" of the hill, I just suggested a horizontal so that the eye has a place to rest.

2. I cropped more off the top so that the foreground is more important.

3. I cropped in from the left, to remove that hint of a tree right at the margin -never a good place to put anything important or positive, looks like it is trying to escape, stage left

4. I widened the path as it comes closer to the viewer

5. I brought some of the lighter tones of the bluebells down into the foreground, scattering them quite widely, so that the closer ones read more as foreground.


Sarah Dowson
09-08-2013, 02:12 PM
Thank you Jackie, I like what you have done. I am new to landscape painting and have found your input really helpful. I painted this picture from a photo I took while I was out and I painted it as per the photo. The area where I stood was fairly open as far as I can remember.
Needless to say, I am quite pleased with this as it is my first landscape and I have only been painting traditionally for about six months. Thank you again.

09-08-2013, 04:23 PM
glad you like my input.

One of the things to remember is that landscape requires a sense of distance, by and large. And often, we need to "adjust" what we see when working from photos, which often do not give us adequate information. Painting directly from the motif, we see better what is required. The camera often destroys the sense of space by giving every element equal importance...AND it changes the tones too because a camera cannot expose for both light and dark at the same time....whereas the human eye can, and also it takes in a scene and adjusts naturally.

09-09-2013, 02:47 PM
What a lovely scene Sarah. And I can see why you're so pleased with your first landscape. You've captured a lovely sense of spring.

And I learned a lot reading Jackie's comments, so thanks for letting us share in that. The one about the slight horizontal at the bottom of the hill is a subtle change that really does makes a difference and not something I would have thought of.

Sarah Dowson
09-09-2013, 02:59 PM
Thank you Kate. It is great that there are other artists out there who are prepared to spend the time to help others. I am so glad I registered. I hung around for ages thinking about it before I took the plunge. I felt quite in awe of the artists on here and the brilliant artwork they do.

09-09-2013, 04:30 PM
your marks and saturation of colour have a distinctive character !

two things strike me ;
the line of the path
the diagonal of the top of the bluebell hill ...

what you have marked on our right side of the bluebell hill looks very very well mixed -
the center to the painting , by comparison , looks washed out .

just a thought .