View Full Version : Jules

12-10-2003, 10:59 AM

Title: Jules
Year Created: 2003
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 11x14 inches
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This is a WIP. A painting of my wife sitting in the backyard of our old house. I could never do her justice but have wanted to paint this photo for some time.

I'm looking for anatomical critique. .....well and anything else to help. As I said it's a WIP so please disregard the hands. Still need to detail them.

Wayne Gaudon
12-10-2003, 11:14 AM
.. it's all about what you leave in and what you leave out .. what helps you deliver the punch line. What is your focus .. it shouldn't be all ... what do you want me to see and how can you lead me to it without me knowing I am being led?

pero lane
12-10-2003, 11:49 AM
Since this is a WIP...I'll have to say great job so far!! Your wife is a beautiful lady!:)

12-10-2003, 01:12 PM
Good questions above, for you to think about.

What I see here is a very lovely lady, in front of a very boring fence. Do you really need all that fence? If this pic is "about" your wife, then why have all that fence? have you considered a crop, which would bring you right in on the figure? And perhaps adding more foliage to cover the fence? You do not have to be a slave to your photo! Have a look at this, see if you like it:


In terms of anatomy, which you asked about - it might be a good idea to have a quick look at an anatomy book, to see the configuration of the muscles of the arm. Her arm, the one resting in her lap, looks rather wooden, and if you gave a hint of the muscles in the arm by rounding out the forms just a tad, it would help a lot. Arms are made up of concave and convex forms, as a result of the underlying musculature.
In the upper arm, there is the deltoid muscle, which wraps around the shoulder - that is the first "bulge", then there is another form below that, the bicep, which, when stretched, often looks concave. Then, in the lower half of the arm, more curving forms, higher on one side of the arm than the other, the widest part of the curving forms being closer to the elbow, than to the wrist. I have scanned a pic to show you how the form needs to be more "fluid" than in your painting, to prevent the wooden arm look!:

Hope all this helps.

12-10-2003, 02:02 PM
My comment was going to be about the arm but jackie has covered that much better than I could. I also like her crop but since you are working on canvas probably not something you can do.
What if you brought the value of the fence down and brought your highlights on the grass and your wife up? I think that would give you more focus. Just an idea:)

12-10-2003, 02:05 PM
You can reduce the size of a canvas, it just means having new stretchers at the back.

But otherwise.................howsabout a lot more foliage on that fence? Just cos it wasnt in the photo, doesn't mean you cannot use a bit of artistic licence, and put it in.

However, cropping makes for a MUCH stronger composition, with a a far better distribution of shapes and tones, and I really believe it is worth going to the trouble of reducing the canvas size.


12-10-2003, 02:43 PM
Wayne-thanks. I didn't approach this painting with much of a cerebral approach, but I get the gyst of what you're saying

Pero- thanks much

Jackie-Thank you. She is in fact a very lovely lady....inside and out. I like the crop that you did very much. It is the way I would do it if I were to start again, but this is a canvas board, so adding foliage to the fence will be the only option I have short of starting over. As to the anatomy book....probably a good idea. I have been a weightlifter for many years and am familiar with the various muscles which make up the human body. I tend to paint the human form through a process of recalling the shape through sense of touch. What does her forearm feel like and how can I show that on canvas. I suppose that may sound strange. Perhaps I need to focus more on what I see vice feel. Does that make sense? I will go back and attempt to affect the changes and hope I can eliminate the woodeness. Thanks so much (sincerely) for taking the time to give me a constructive critique. I'll repost after I touch it up.

Shirley- Thank you. I think that if I do as you've suggested and bring the fence highlights down along with adding the foliage that Jackie suggested, it might just accomplish what I'm after. If I could effectively cut the size of the canvas, I would.

12-11-2003, 02:20 PM
thanks for responding. I was starting to think - having posted a few times and the thread has stopped in its tracks - that getting a response from the poster was unusual!

It is a pity it was painted on canvas board.........but I wonder - if you take that board to your picture framer, and ask if it could be cut down, I wonder if he could do it somehow? After all, it isn't metal, it is board, and so it should be possible. Of course you will have one rather "raw" edge, but since that will go under the frame, it shouldn't matter.

Try doing something with the fence...but if it still overpowers the figure, then see if you can cut down that board somehow.


12-11-2003, 02:33 PM
Lots of good feedback here. Jackie's right on about the anatomy of the arm.

I don't know the reference for this but in addition to what Jackie said, the upper arms look too long. Her elbows should hit at or right below the ribcage unless she's leaning extremely forward. Your wife's arms may feel thin to you but she still has shoulders. :) If you make the shoulders a little more substantial the whole arm will flow better.

Hope this helps.

12-11-2003, 06:17 PM
hi painter!

well, Jackie hit the nail on the head here...
the scene is nice as is, but could be more focused

the only other thing I would add is to reexamine
her chest area...

really, your rendering skills are very good
(love the material, grass, flowers, light and overall essence)
just some more thought on overall composition
and concentrating on some finer points of flesh
is all you need
sounds like a lot, but, it isn't
boils down to crop, adjust and a bit of
smoother grading in some areas
(imho, of course)


12-11-2003, 08:11 PM
Hello giniaad-I have done some touchups on the chest area and also have rounded out the shoulders more. Thank you for the positive reinforcement about my rendering skills. Having no art education and just over two years experience, I sometimes wonder if I'm progressing normally....or if there is even such a thing as normal progression when it comes to painting. All I know is that I love it!!! And your humble opinion is always welcome. I'm going to go back to work on this over the weekend and hopefully repost it prior to Monday. Thanks again.

Dana T-I always get great feedback here. I did round out the shoulders but the arm length is pretty close to right. She is leaned forward a good bit. I'm thinking that by accentuating the folds of her dress in the abdominal area, I might bring this out. I've also gone back and tried to redefine the arms with more concave brush strokes. Thanks for the help

Jackie-I can only say once more that your crop is the way it should have been done. I'm looking at taking some Art classes through the local university. Maybe they can teach me perspective;) Anyway your advice has been most helpful. I'll repost once I'm done. bobby

12-11-2003, 09:03 PM
Hi Bobby.....always such a pleasure to view your work and your wife is a real beauty......I'm all for the adjustment in arms & CROP......you can saw the panel....or repaint it since it's such a treasure!! :)

12-11-2003, 11:36 PM
I can't add to all the good suggestions. Looks like a very good start. I like the geometry of the composition.

12-12-2003, 04:27 AM
To save you this kind of roblem in the future........can I suggest you look intothe idea of doing a thumbnail sketch from your reference material?

To do this, you would start by taking a couple of L-shaped bits of card, and move them around on the photo, until you get a composition which pleases you.

Then, in a sketchbook, do a little scribbly sketch in soft pencil, to see how the composition looks within the rectangle. At this point, if you have any areas which look slightly odd or out of balance, or need a bit of punch, you can adjust tones, bring in other elements (bit more foliage here and there) lighten areas, etc, untilyou have a b/w image, rendered with the main dark, light and medium tones, that is REALLY satisfying.

then you start to paint, choosing a canvas which is to exactly the same proportions as your sketch.

This is what many, many professionals do.


12-12-2003, 09:41 PM
Jackie-Once again thanks. I will try as you've suggested with the nest piece I do. It sounds as though your methodology has evolved through years of practice or trial and error. You're a saint. With advice from folks like you, I may not need to take the art classes. :D

mcknight-thanks much.

Catherine-You're always so kind. The feeling is mutual in regard to viewing your work. I'm going to look into sawing the panel. I am beginning to think that I'll do the piece over again. It will be easier to work on a bigger canvas anyway. Right now (in this piece) her face is the size of my thumb!!! Good to hear from you as always.