View Full Version : Golfe de Saint-Tropez

Mr linseed
07-24-2016, 04:28 PM

Title: Golfe de Saint-Tropez
Year Created:
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 20 X 18
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

Hi. New to the forum and to oils (progressed from acrylics). Nice to be here. This is a gift for my mum on her birthday.

I'm conce<br>ed it's a little 'flat'. The sea doesn't quite give me the feeling of perspective. I'm also conce<br>ed that it lacks contrast and the palette is a little, well, blue and white.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

Mr linseed
07-25-2016, 09:33 AM

I've added a bit more to the sea to address the issues I mentioned earlier.

Id really welcome some constructive criticism.

07-25-2016, 12:58 PM
I like it. Well the subject is blue and white and that is the way it should be.
The only thing, and not a biggie, is the top sail doesn't seem to be filled. This may be they way it should be and this is grasping for straws. It is really lovely.

Mr linseed
07-26-2016, 10:37 AM
Thanks, Kin3. Very kind words. You are spot on about the mast - I have a habit of over-working stuff, and the mast is a classic example of where I'd normally fall into that trap - so I left it!

07-26-2016, 11:32 PM
Hi there.

My main field is portraiture, which is my paid profession. That said, I've been painting landscapes for some years now and I think the following may be of use:

One of the major mistakes painters make in recreating a landscape or seascape or, for that matter, anything is to fail to lie. Specifically, we become slaves to a visual fact which when painted just looks absurd. A great example is cloud formations- many of the hundreds of photos I've taken of cloud formations as references would look fantastical if I added them to an actual painting. They would also be a huge distraction. Lie where you have to - far better to have a believable painting than an accurate lunacy :)

There's the general advice, now the specific:
There's no uniformity in the sea, it's a mind boggling mix of black, blue, greens, greys, yellows. There's no point going over the painting again, but for future reference the easiest way to ensure you have something resembling a realistic ocean is to literally splurge a massive line of vermillion and ultramarine and various grays and whites across the sea section of the canvas and then blend blend blend. It'll look horrific at first but you'll end up blending a fantastically lifelike sea. The crest of any wave should never be painted pure white but it also contains so little blue as to be unnoticeable. Bear in mind that painting an individual wave is one of the hardest things any painter will ever do, akin to painting a perfect egg. The reason is that both an egg and a wave involve variations in light so subtle that they take a looooong time to get right. For this reason, painting a hen's egg used to be part of classic art training in Renaissance Italy- a kind of examination to see if the student had reached a required level of proficiency. My advice is to collect dozens of photos of waves and practise until you nail it.

Horizons: the further a hillside moves from the viewer, the paler and bluer it tends to become. Next time you're out on a hill range like Dartmoor etc have a good look- the furthest hills are almost always a strange blueish or even purplish shade of light grey. This is because of the increased amount of atmospheric content between your eye and that hill, which results in more refracted hazy blue light filling the distance. Even a hill that's essentially darkest brown will end up looking a pale hazy blue-brown colour. Details like this are the difference between a believable landscape and ....well, one that looks two-dimensional. Clearly you know this, but the value change from your closest to furthest hills doesn't look right. I'd lighten up that black mountain on the right, and vary the values on each hill- patches of light and dark.

The Good: your scumbled effect on the ocean surface is very good. The use of violet-brown on the clouds to the right is great- most people completely misinterpret that colour. The proportions are good. You've completely avoided the fundamental flaw of all hobby artists- the pointless obsession with colour!! I'll be saying this to students of mine till the day I die: "Better grey than garish". The world is not made up of lightning blues and circus clown reds; the world is a vast parade of endless shades of grey and brown.

The odd thing is that the sea, when you're sitting in the thing, does turn a crazy black/blue when the sun suddenly dips behind a cloud; the same colour it turns at sundown. That said, I think it would've been better to simply lie about the sea's colour that day. Grab an old canvas and spread a good burst of vermillion on it. Now slap on a medium value grey. Don't overthink it, just spread in in long passages. Too dark? Spread on passages on white. Now a handful of smaller black strips. Don't lather it back and forward like you're painting a fence, but do get the linseed oil out and work the paint into varying areas of light and dark- it's the exact same process as painting a sky but the size of the strokes varies more. It's a good exercise in blending and you'll realise very quickly just how green there is in the ocean.

But here's the vital part: take the sharp edges off the cloud tops!!! Eventually you'll become expert in painting clouds, but in the meantime get a dab of greyish white and scumble it across the tops of the clouds. Again, I understand what you're trying to represent, but on canvas it doesn't look right at all and it a major, major distraction. Light bends round the tops of clouds and (as with the tops of your hills) doesn't just stop dead once it reaches the edge of a cloud.

It's a nice painting. Don't be tempted to go adding more chroma to it- the world is greys and browns!! Or in the sea's case, greyish-vermillion-ultramarine ;)

Good luck.

Mr linseed
07-28-2016, 06:12 PM

What a fantastic critique. I can't thank you enough! I feel I'm at the beginning of an amazing journey with oils. But wow - how much there is to learn. Practice is key I suppose. Practise in painting and seeing/analysing.

Did you have formal training? I'm considering taking some sort of evening course or similar. I feel I have a little bit of aptitude and potential, but to unlock it might need a professional hand.

Thank you again. I've reread your post a dozen times. I won't add anymore to this now, I'm going to start a new project.