View Full Version : Tropical Beach

08-14-2015, 06:55 PM
I would like to get some feedback on this beach painting. It's acrylic on 9x12 canvas.


08-14-2015, 07:10 PM
it''s a beautiful piece. Something about the shadows doesn't feel right. They probably shouldnt dip down the way they do because they look almost lie waves. Dunno, would have to get one of these landscape experts to give a look, but it's a beautiful piece, nonetheless

08-15-2015, 01:39 PM
lovely indeed
the tree shadow that have entered the water could/should/would have flatness to them as the sit atop the water, and maybe some ripples to break them up. it's a bit unclear as to where, exactly, they enter the water so you could clarify that because it appears that they do leave the bank and enter the water.


Mark Szymanski
08-15-2015, 01:42 PM
As Bevahlee said, there is something wrong with the shadows. Because shadow follows the form, the angle of the shadow makes it look as if the sand is on a steep incline. Sand on a beach isn't usually so steep - usually the angle you have is more common on a dune a bit further inland. In this case, if you used a more horizontal angle for the shadows, then it would read like a flatter beach.

You've also created a common mistake in the lighting of the trunks of the palms. Because a tree trunk basic shape is cylindrical, it will obey the rules of light on a cylinder. In this case what you've done is to put the darkest portion of the shadow on the side opposite the light source. While it might sound like the right thing to do, you haven't accounted for the reflected light from the beach bouncing up on the tree trunks and lighting the back of the trunk. The darkest portion of the trunk won't be on the edges, but in the middle of the trunk - one edge is lit by the sun, the other edge is lit by reflected light.

All of the leading lines are directing you out of the painting, with little to draw you into the background and even less to move the eye around into the sky to the other half of the painting. Some adjustments in masses will help.

Grouping the trees more will allow for a more readable composition. Mostly look for the masses of the fronds... I believe if you look through squinted eyes at the reference photo, you'll find there to be a pyramidal mass of palm fronds covering a large portion of the sky on the right had side of the painting. That many palms clustered as they do will have the effect of a large mass shape, not a scatter collection of tops. One tree's leaves will be in front or behind others creating a larger mass shape. The mass shape is important, not the individual fronds. When you look at this type of tree as a whole, it is the general shape of the skinny trunk allied with the solid center mass and the more whispy edges which identify it as a palm at a distance. A few frond shapes along the periphery and occasionally where the sun catches a frond will do a great deal to give unity to the painting. The individual tree in the distance is a smaller and more delicate smudge than you've given here, and could be moved to the left a tad. The distant tree is going to give some balance by its isolation against the sky and from the trees on the right hand side of the painting.

Perhaps thinking about the color of the shadow in the water vs. the color of the shadow on the land would be helpful. They are two separate colors, not one color continued from land into the sea. Blocking in the mass shapes of the shadows in the water and the shapes of the light areas of water will go a long way to make this area more readable. You've blended so many colors into the water, I cannot make out areas of shadow being cast by the trees and the areas of light between these darker portions of water.

You didn't mention whether it would be okay to make electronic changes to your painting, so I won't post the workup I have done on yours which illustrates my suggestions. It is only a quick and dirty work up, so if you want to see it, let me know. I always like to imagine what it is like in the tropics since I have never been there myself, so it was quite enjoyable seeing your painting.

08-15-2015, 02:21 PM
Thanks so much all for the feedback. I too did not feel right on the shadows and had added them later because felt needed some pattern there. Mark, your detailed comments are very helpful. I do give you permission to post electronically enhanced versions because I really want to learn more of what you mean.

Mark Szymanski
08-15-2015, 03:37 PM
swbabin, Thanks for letting me post this. I think your instinct about needing a shadow pattern on the beach were correct. It is a long yellow mass and if not interrupted here and there could easily become dominant over anything else you put in.


Maybe a couple of thoughts/explanations on my thinking...

Mass shapes. Keeping the shapes interesting and varied is just something I have to continually work at. In this piece, I tried to join a number of the trees together at the top to get a flow from one to the next. The large amount of dark in the trees is not complete with detail (because I didn't spend that much time on it), but is allowing your eye to move back across the painting. There could be more detail here and there, but you're looking upward into the shadow portions of the tree, the shade is cause both by other trees, and the fronds on the sun-ward side of the palm. The blockiness of the the design just shows how it was laid in, not how I think the end product should look.

The sky beneath the trees is important to give a "window" into the background. This is an "arranged" design I placed in here - you can have a different arrangement of skyholes that work just as well. My thinking is to allow the eye to sense there is depth behind the trees. The dark green behind the trunks allows the light on the trunks to show up. Where the trunk is in front of the dark it is a bit lighter, and where it crosses the light it is a bit darker.

To do the water, (which is quite roughly done) I laid in the pattern of shadow, trying to keep the value correct, then laid in the value of the sunlit portions of water. Darkening the foreground water allows for the eye to move around the corner.

The shadows on the shoreline are only roughly indicated, but having it flattened and more horizontal makes the shore read more like sand to me.

The trees are arranged more in groups, with definite areas between the trees. Separating them allows for you to enjoy the groupings as they would get smaller as they move into the background.

I think you can give a bit more power to the sky by increasing the amount of blue... a cerelean or cobalt blue is nice to use as a base for this particular color... Flattening some of the cloud shapes might not be the best decision, but keeping the brightest portions of the clouds on the sunward side is something to consider. I really just played with attempting to use the clouds to get me to the left side of the painting.

Two other thoughts...
I moved the tree in the distance and decreased its size so it becomes more important as a weight to counteract all that stuff happening in the foreground. Probably should be a wee bit larger though.

The eye always seeks the light and bounces off shadow. Shadows act as bumpers on a pool table and can be used to redirect the eye. This can be very useful to keep the eye from leaving the painting too early or leaving the painting in the wrong place.

08-15-2015, 05:39 PM
Excellent Mark, thanks for taking the time to do that, learned a lot.

08-15-2015, 07:46 PM
The black looks good in the foliage. But the touches of black in the clouds do not.

08-17-2015, 10:47 PM
Looks like what the title says. Why do you think there's anything wrong with it? Ship it.