View Full Version : GH Lighthouse

12-02-2003, 01:40 PM

Title: GH Lighthouse
Year Created: 2003
Medium: Acrylic
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 16 x 20
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This is the Grand Haven Lighthouse on Lake Michigan. My son wanted me to paint him a picture of it with large waves. I procrastenated so bad on doing this one for him, and that's different then just painting for yourself. I didn't use any of the new techniques I learned because I wasn't confident of how to apply them.

Any and all suggestions welcome and will be applied to a new painting, rather than revise this one. Then in case I mess it up, I'll still have something to give him for Christmas.

12-02-2003, 05:14 PM
This is very dramatic and eye catching. In the next version keep all that, maybe blend the sky a bit. I think the whitecaps need to be redirected and defined a bit. Also the house at the end of the pier seems darker than the lighthouse which is closer to us.

12-02-2003, 05:31 PM
I think it's great that you want to paint something "on commission" for your son, and I'm sure he'll be thrilled to get either this or a future piece. I do have some recommendations for the next one, if you decide to go for it.

I would recommend altering the composition just a tad. Depending on whether you want to emphasize the sky or the sea more, I'd suggest putting your horizon line closer to the top or the bottom of the painting (the usual rule of thumb is 1/3 of the way from the top or 1/3 from the bottom). I'd also like to see the pier and lighthouse emphasized more by zooming in on them. If the top of the lighthouse either comes close to the top of the painting (without touching it) or even goes right off the top edge (cropped off a little), that'll help emphasize the massive height of the tower.

You've got a nice bold sense of the colors in the clouds. I'd just like to see a little less white in the sky, maybe by doing an underpainting (a color wash) over the whole sky before painting the clouds.

I really like the little details (ironwork? fencing?) on the pier, and I especially like how the details get smaller with distance: it gives a good feeling for the structure and the distance to the farthest part. If the fencing is all one continuous piece, I'd like to see the lines made a little straighter as they pass from one side of the lighthouse to the other.

I'd also like to see a little more work on the lighthouse, especially since that's the focus of the painting. I think the perspective you want to aim for is that of viewing a tall structure from ground level, so basically looking up at it. So, the curved edges around the pillar shouldn't really curve much at all at the bottom, and should curve the other way at the top (horizontal bands at the bottom, "frown" shapes as you go up). I hope that makes sense!

I love the greens and purples in the water, and the sense of violent motion given by all the sprays of white. I especially like the spray hitting the building at the end of the pier. That's very effective.

You're well on your way. Have fun with it!


12-02-2003, 06:15 PM
I'm so glad I posted in this forum, the comments are so welcome. Actually, I did the painting based on a photo and the webcam during a recent storm.

Spyder, good eye! Actually this is just at sundown and both the buildings look black when the sun shines from that direction, and the waves do redirect after they hit the rocks and pier. I thought the exact thing you did and looked back at the pics, but no reason I can't do it my way in the next one. Blend the sky..... oh I wish I could, acrylics are difficult to say the least.

Flax, oh my, thank you for the comprehensive response. I need a little time to digest it all and visualize the variations any and all help with my compositions (non existant) is appreciated.

12-03-2003, 08:07 PM
Hey, Nuttn'

Thank you for being so gracious about my way-too-long post! The important thing is, have fun with it! I'm a beginner with acrylics too, so I'm right there with ya, learning as much as I can. WetCanvas is a treasure trove of information, but don't let it overwhelm you, just absorb what you can as you go.

Good luck!