View Full Version : So, here's a painting

08-24-2001, 05:30 PM
If anyone would like to critique this, it is a painting of yuccas at WhiteSands, New Mexico. It was painted from a photograph I took. I am particuarly disillusioned with the clouds, plus the stalk and flower on the rear yucca aren't very convincing. Thoughts?


08-26-2001, 02:14 PM
Is anyone going to give me any feedback?

08-26-2001, 03:52 PM
Hi Keith,

I am a new member here, and I am not a critic. I have been painting in oils for nearly 25 yrs. I can give you some of my ideas Keith! I too paint from photo's and just posted in the landscape forum on one of my acrylics. We don't have to paint the photo as seen but add our own colours.

I would use a small touch of yellow ochre, and alizarin crimson to your clouds. lighten them where the sun hits them. White is ok in some places but not in a summer scene so much. I use a touch of blue-purple or blue-gray in the shadows of the plants, add some very light blue colour to the sand. I normally make the horizon a lighter blue giving the painting more depth. I know your photo shows the white sand and one can still keep it that way if that is what you like! Depth is what we like to show in a painting, there are many different ways of doing that, and you can learn so much from Johannes Vloothius forum on landscape and design.

Hope to hear from you!

08-26-2001, 05:07 PM
Keith, I am not much of the critic. I do like your painting in general.I paint myself just barely for 3 years.But I think that DPaulson gave you great advises.

From what I see the front yucca plant looks very nice but the rear one needs some more work on it.
The ski is too bright blue, reminds me of my first landscape work . I also was advised not to take photo literally. I am happy to report that I took that advise to use:D .

Happy painting,


08-27-2001, 12:36 AM

I'm another non-critic, the work on the rear yucca plant would also include it's shadow--the slant of the shadow in the fornt plant and the rear plant are not the same. There's enough difference I want to look and see if maybe the plant in back is further in the distance than I origionally thought.

Also good suggestions for other color in the clouds and I would bring a little of that color down into the sand. I've been to White Sands so I can say that your photo is a good representation of the area. Keep up the good work.


08-27-2001, 03:13 AM
I noticed the strange shadow on the rear yucca too. Oddly enough, that's an accurate depiction of the reference photo. I'm not sure what the explanation is.

08-27-2001, 09:22 AM
I have been looking a little closer at your yucca plants. If we want to have the yucca plant in front our main subject I would put the back one in front and sharpen it up a bit with more of a varity of greens yellows and blues. Your front plant should be the the sharpist and most colorful. The back one should be less noticable and be painted with light colors...add some purple/white. Do yucca bloom? if so add some flowers.
maybe this is too much information but I have been doing the same things (from photo's) as you. I am starting to use more color and depth in my work. Good start thou! I'm Just trying to help, keith!! :D

08-28-2001, 08:02 AM
Hi Keith,

apart from the colourful remarks ..

the foreground looks quite strict and "noble" to me, the clouds and sky more expressive in style.

Both have their virtues, but imho they do not go well together (for me, I'd prefer the foreground :) ).



08-28-2001, 11:01 AM
Well, that's why I said I didn't like the clouds in the first place. I really want to go for that photographic quality (a pretty steap goal).


Keith Russell
08-28-2001, 06:02 PM

I like the image a great deal--it has lots of potential.

The clouds need to be softer; they are farthest from the viewer. But, your clouds look like they are the same distance as the sands--since the two blend together at the horizon. This is fine, but I think there should be a more subtle value change, the clouds just above the horizon fade more gradually into the upper clouds.

Then, the upper clouds might 'pop' even more.

I really like the vivid blue of the sky, but then I'm not a realist painter, so you might not want to take my word for that.

But, all the clouds have some 'sketchy' grey or white strokes in them. That 'sketchy-ness' does not convey the photo-realism you seem to be after. Smaller, tighter strokes that blend into the sky at the edges should help.

Also, the clouds seem 'flat'--there isn't a lot of variation, they are almost all one colour--bright white--except for the grey sketchy lines.

Look closely at your photo; you might find a lot of subtle details in the clouds which you've overlooked. (Or, maybe you've got those details in there already, and the scan just doesn't show it.)

As to the shadow under the farther Yucca plant, it doesn't work with the information you've given us about the downward sloping of the sands. The shadow should curve downward like the front shadow, yet it doesn't.

Either we need information about the lay of the sand at that spot to explain the change in the shape of this shadow (a subtle change of values, or more details in those shadows perhaps), or I would simply change the shadow so that both Yucca's shadows work together--this is a painting, after all, and you don't have to duplicate the photo on every detail, even to make things look 'real'.

Overall, though, I think you're on the right track with this painting.