View Full Version : Waterlogged

Yvonne Keogh
09-02-2016, 12:33 PM

Title: Waterlogged
Year Created:
Medium: Oil
Surface: Board
Dimension: 16.5 x 12
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

Alla prima except for the sky.
I'm really struggling with deciduous trees. They end up looking too "flat" and too rigid for my liking.

Any comments appreciated. I'd like to be able to sell my work eventually.

09-02-2016, 01:39 PM
It looks pretty good, I would say the water looks well rendered with a nice sense of motion to it. I also like your colour choices, particularly the contrast between the water and the grass.

One thing I would say is that the white highlight marks towards the lower right do stick out a bit, so I would probably use a slightly less bright hue for that, as it is a little bit distracting from the rest of the piece.

Other than that I'd say it's a solid piece.

09-02-2016, 03:23 PM
mostly this is nice, but i've a couple of suggestions for you ...

the brown to the left of the dominant tree trunk is really confusing - is it another tree or is it shoreline? adjusting the color and/or brush stroke direction would calm that confusion.

the water falling over the logs - remember gravity - where the water is coming from and where it's leaving, meaning - the cascade is wrapped too tight to the logs.

deciduous trees - it's very rare that there are no peek-a-boo holes to be seen through the foliage - let the light shine through here and there and you'll rid yourself of that pesky 'flat' you speak of.


09-03-2016, 10:13 AM
On the trees, the foliage should be taller for a big tree trunk.

Mark Szymanski
09-03-2016, 06:08 PM
You're doing pretty well with the color harmony. You've set a nice subject with some lines which work to help make the eye path zig-zag into the background using the foreground water falls. Lines of the logs crossing the creek are broken by the cascading water over the top of them which helps to make them more interesting.

The main tree on the right, as has been mentioned, is strangely shaped. Trees have a ratio of leaf mass to trunk mass.


The trunk is too thick for the size of the leaf mass. If you think of an apple blown up to tree size you're moving in the right direction... the mass of leaves will be the apple and the trunk will be the size of the stem. (This is true for trees which have grown up without competition - like in the middle of a field, when in the woods, they attain great height but the branches don't spread as wide.) In this case there are no other trees nearby so I would expect to see this ratio.

The reason the trees are looking flat, is you've neglected to think of them as having branches which spread out in 360 degrees. Some move toward you, some move away from you, some are sort of parallel to you.


There are primary limbs, secondary limbs, and tertiary limbs. The primary limbs are the ones which separate themselves from the trunk. Usually only 3-4 limbs actually do this. The secondary limbs are the ones which fork off of these limbs. The primary limbs are the ones which direct where the "sky holes" tend to be found and will give the pattern to the sky holes. The secondary limbs develop as the tree grows. Those branches which get more light, grow larger and stronger because the tree gets more resources from those leaves. Smaller limbs within the tree tend to be shaded out and are left to wither and die. The tertiary or end branching spreads to and fro searching for the best light and growing conditions (prevailing winds are hard on new branches). In any case, there tends to be sparse leaf growth on the inner portion of the tree near the trunk and primary branches and more on the tertiary branches.


The leaf masses on the tertiary portions will overlap each other from the viewer on the ground. Remember some of these leaf masses are on the opposite side of the tree from the viewer. Some of the leaf masses angle toward the viewer and get larger. Each of these masses cast shadow and reflect light. The shape is irregular, but there is a pattern which can be discerned. If one views a tree from a near distance, you are looking up at the tree, mostly at the underside of the leaf masses and so they will be dark. The farther you get from the tree, the more the leaf masses are seen on the side. The whole tree tends to give a light on the sun side, shaded where the leaf masses cast a shadow onto the next leaf mass. The leaf masses lower on the tree will be in shadow where they are closer to the trunk and then the limb may break out towards the sun and be in bright sunshine. If you can see through the tree, the leaves on the opposite side of the tree will be dark and lit only with the light transmitted through the leaves themselves or reflected from the ground.

Thinking of trees as things which have arms which move towards the viewer and away from the viewer can be a helpful exercise. Remember the leaves don't just float out there as random brush hits... the supporting structure is the branching limbs and so there are groups and massing of leaves. The best thing to do is to go out and actually draw some trees and notice how the limbs are supporting these groups of leaves toward the end of the branches.

Keep on working on these ideas and you'll be doing trees you're satisfied with.

Use Her Name
09-03-2016, 07:38 PM
The marks showing water movement are really unnecessary. They also show, in a way what F-stop the camera was on. Hiding the use of photography is a major problem in contemporary art. Either you hide it or you say it was a copy of a photograph. The water coming down the wood levels would have been more "juicy" and layered, rather than just hash marks. On the other hand, this is the way that many Renascence artists might have handled it.

Yvonne Keogh
09-03-2016, 10:09 PM
Thanks everyone - this is great feedback! Wow!

Everyone commented on the tree trunk being out of proportion to the foliage - now I see that and it makes sense. Mark Szymanski your analysis of tree growth is awesome - thanks for pointing all that out. I may do a study of a maple soon - we get quite a beautiful show of them this time of year where I live.

The sticks on the left bank were scratched out with a blunt implement - the white showing is the gesso primer. I might glaze it a bit to dull the white.

About the water, I'll have to see what I can do to correct it. Use Her Name - this is not from a photograph but from imagination. I learned how to do water marks from Bob Ross! Can you show me an example of "juicy" in a painting? I've tried looking at water falling and also through a video but it's really hard to capture it - I don't know how the masters did it before photography.

09-03-2016, 10:28 PM
If you decide to keep the tree trunk so large, make the tree a lot taller and fuller, let it go off the canvas.
"Juicy" usually means more paint used..to me it means that...
I think Bob used a sideways stroke in the direction of the water flow to start his waterfall and then the swoosh over the edge.. so it wasn't a harsh line right at the top..
some painters will blur the top edge with finger or brush to blend it in with the water behind.. if not connected it won't look right..
some images to show - stream flowing over logs -

Yvonne Keogh
09-04-2016, 01:02 PM
My improvements - thanks to all for pointing these things out!

09-23-2016, 02:05 AM
tremendous improvements - you've lost bob and found more of yourself, bravo, it's full of personality and considerably more exciting, inviting and explorable.

always, seemingly, there are changes that Could be made, but i'm glad you've signed it and hope you leave it be now, proudly.


Yvonne Keogh
09-23-2016, 09:56 AM
tremendous improvements - you've lost bob and found more of yourself, bravo, it's full of personality and considerably more exciting, inviting and explorable.

always, seemingly, there are changes that Could be made, but i'm glad you've signed it and hope you leave it be now, proudly.


Thanks La - so encouraging! I think I'm better with water than trees. I will have to do some tree studies. I've been exploring using dry brush on dry with very thin oil layers and there's some things I like about it some I don't - I'm still trying to figure out what my favourite technique is and it's probably going to be a combo.