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Deborah Secor
09-08-2004, 01:19 AM
I thought for our next ESP we’d work on a basic part of the landscape: the foreground!

A lot of my students tell me they have trouble with foregrounds—even saying some slightly nasty things! So over the years I’ve analyzed what it is that works, and what doesn’t work in the fore.

Nothing distracts more than a weak, disruptive composition that allows the eye to meander around, fixing on nothing and going nowhere. Instead, a strong foreground will lead clearly and succinctly to the focus of the painting, with enough detail to enhance that subject. A weak foreground can destroy the effectiveness of a painting that is otherwise successful. No matter how strong or visually delightful the center of interest might be, if attractive elements in the ground plane lead the eye away from it, the painting becomes disjointed and uninteresting. If, on the other hand, the ground plane is a bland sea of useless, rambling details, or is so devoid of information as to be visually boring, this area simply fails to do its job.

The fore is often the place where distractions occur. Because the greatest color, contrast and detail reside at your feet, it is necessary to walk a fine line between enough and too much if your center of interest does not reside there. Excessive details can overburden the senses, heightened darks and lights may attract unwanted attention and strong color might appeal to the eye when it is not meant to be the center of interest. The solution is to take into consideration this key area and arrange the various components in the fore to direct the viewer’s eye, moving it quickly or slowing it momentarily, or perhaps allowing it to rest briefly in an area of quiet calm before moving on. The rhythm and syncopation of this movement is important and allows you to vary the tempo, pace and direction the eye moves.

Think about how you can use the fore to guide the viewer’s attention to the focal point (it may not be just a point but a grouping of things) and keep it comfortably centered there. Allow your viewer to arrive at the focal area, providing a visual pathway of some sort. This might be as simple as a trail of light that leads the eye through the foreground or it could be as obvious as a paved highway with a yellow stripe curving across the land, pointing like an arrow to the center of interest.

It is sometimes tempting to minimize any foreground, cropping the image so that the offending or difficult part is simply cut out. This can often leave the subject sitting directly on the ‘windowsill’ of the painting with no room to travel visually to the subject. While cropping might seem like a simple solution, it actually contains some pitfalls of its own, since the need for excellent composition is often then increased. Instead of cutting out the offending portion, consider utilizing the space to strengthen the painting. The abrupt quality of the painting that is merely a subject and background, with no intervening sense of space, can be somewhat confusing. While this composition may be effective and interesting when done excellently, by a master like Albert Handell for instance, it is not a solution you can rely on for every painting.

Far more often you want to use shapes to give mood and movement to the work, making the foreground a vitally important and motivating part of the composition, an appealing and lively portion that does not distract. Compose with two key ideas in mind: create depth and keep the movement operative.

There are many different elements you can include in the foreground plane to create distance and movement. Consider including a vertical element such as a tree or bush, telephone pole or fence to enhance the illusion of distance. When a vertical object protrudes into the more distant planes above, it functions much like a puzzle piece, locking the composition together in relation to the foreground:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Tony_allain2.jpg
Tony Allain

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Dawson_3.jpg
Doug Dawson

A streak of light and the shadow it casts can draw the eye and change the direction it moves:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-ParisBigTesuque_Aspens.jpg
Deborah Paris

Overlapping grasses and bushes, large and small, can make a soft transition:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-McDaniel.jpg
Richard McDaniel

Strongly contrasting colors or values, such as a patch of snow or brightly colored flowers, can entice the viewer:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Chamisa_and_Sage_dsk.jpg
(mine--if there's no name below it, it's my painting...)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Beauchemin2.jpg
Edna Beauchemin

A change in plane where the ground rises or falls away can move the eye swiftly or slowly in another direction:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Templeton_aspendream.jpg
Ann Templeton

Lost and found edges become important in pointing the eye, making a soft or abrupt shift.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Hillside_Threesome_2.jpg

Remember that strong verticals create upward or downward movement and horizontals move the eye side to side, while angles can provide transitions between them. The place where these directional elements intersect can be critical. Pay close attention to the X or Y where they meet and be sure to maintain the movement in the proper direction.

Be sure to use patterning. Look for the repeated overlapping colors and characteristic shapes found on the ground, such as low-growing grasses, small bushes, flowers, weeds and dirt. Rather than laboring to paint every little detail of grass and leaf use repeated patterns that are somewhat larger in the immediate fore and become progressively smaller.

In the distance these strokes, laid down like tweed cloth with dashes of characteristic color, create a simple texture with muted color that explains enough without saying too much. Oftentimes patterning is the key to solving foreground dilemmas simply because it creates an illusion or suggestion of detail without becoming disruptive.

Patterning:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Going_Places2.JPG

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-springsdance_Mckinley.jpg
Richard McKinley

Keep in mind that the slight graying or bluing of aerial perspective is needed to add to the illusion of depth. The colors in the immediate foreground will be the most saturated, yet there will be times when you must mute them slightly so that they do not compete too much with your focal point.

Aerial perspective:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Hot_Summer_Night.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Maggie_Price.jpg
Maggie Price

Conversely, injecting strong color into the foreground can enhance perspective. Remember that as colors recede from the eye there is a color shift, as increasing layers of air filter out first yellow and then red. This means that as you look out over a large field those grasses at your feet will have all of the combinations of red, yellow and blue in them, as well as holding the strongest contrasts of dark and light. As the grasses recede into the mid-distance they will first become somewhat less yellow, leaving mixtures of red and blue, resulting in a lavender hue. If the field is large enough, red will slowly be filtered out in the great distance, leaving a pale blueness to the grasses that are farthest away.
In fact, at its simplest the landscape could be expressed according to the rules of aerial perspective as the yellow of the foreground, the lavender of the mountains and the blue of the sky. This formula actually works quite well to express minimally the land and sky.

Here are the broad generalizations about foregrounds. Break them up using:

1. rocks

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-ParisOn_Higher_Ground.jpg
Deborah Paris

2. a fence line

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-PritchardOld_Feliz.jpg
Wayne Pritchard

3. a vertical bush or tree

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Handell_green_trees.jpg
Albert Handell

4. overlapping grasses and bushes

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Sweet_Sunset.jpg

5. a change in plane

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Faegre_Mesa_Verde.jpg
Brad Faegre

6. shadows

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Evening_Splashes.jpg

7. a streak of light

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-breaking_light,_S._Pearl_St._OHagan.jpg
Desmond O’Hagan

8. contrasting colors or values

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Beauchemin.jpg
Edna Beauchemin

9. a reflection in a puddle

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-november_OHagan.jpg
Desmond O’Hagan

10. patches of snow

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Handell.jpg
Albert Handell

11. a road or pathway

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Faegre_Canyonlands.jpg
Brad Faegre

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Silverton.jpg

12. a river or stream

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Autumn_Creek_dsk.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Silver_Strand.jpg

13. Other interesting shapes or colors

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-MacDonald_15.jpg
Nancy MacDonald

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-Wallis_SunsetOnSand.jpg
Kitty Wallis

Don't let your foreground be so empty that it looks unresolved. Suggest things, even if you don’t describe them. Don’t be unwilling to add elements to the foreground to move the eye, recomposing to strengthen the painting.


Many thanks to all the artists whose work I've shown here to illustrate these principles.
_________________________________________________

Your assignment, should you care to accept it:
Design a painting, or show one(s) you have already painted, that has a foreground that is 50% to 75% of the picture plane. Make sure it’s interesting and varied, and uses some of the elements suggested here, or others you devise. When you show your painting, describe what you’ve done and how it’s working.

For example:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-California_Skyline.jpg
California Skyline, 11x17, Wallis
This foreground is interesting to me because of the abstract qualities that move the eye around effectively. The gentle horizontals are countered with the stronger angles in the immediate fore, which give movement and interest to that area. The dark triangles in the bottom corner and the accompanying light yellow patches suggest trees and fields, while the orange and green middle ground are energetic in color, giving depth to the piece, but not far different in value so that they allow the eye to move up to the saw tooth tree shapes. The soothing blues suggest water and distant hills.

This painting was done from a memory or impression of my years growing up in the California Bay Area.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Sep-2004/23609-River_Way.jpg
River Way, 11x17, La Carte
In this painting I think the foreground works quite well because the shape of the pathway moves the eye to the foot of the tree, which is a strong vertical and the darkest dark in the painting. The dark and medium grasses are suggested with a few colors and strokes. The snatches of light on the path also direct the eye, while keeping the immediate foreground from being too boring, and the large yellow swath behind the tree is simple enough to suggest the ground and shadow but not distractingly strong in color or contrast.

_________________________________________________

Okay, hope you have some fun trying out different foregrounds! I look forward to seeing your work! If you have any questions or want to discuss any points about this ESP, I'm anxious to hear from you.

Deborah

Meisie
09-08-2004, 03:04 AM
Oh my! I haven't even done the landscape from the last ESP! :crying: Oh I hope I have the chance to try it here. The examples are magnificent!

Thank you!

Can you 'sticky' this thread too? ;)

Meisie

Deborah Secor
09-08-2004, 08:25 AM
Thanks, Meisie, I'm glad you like this one. :cool: I figured since most of the folks here are visual , a lot of paintings would be fun!

The other ESPs will be in the Pastel Library, although the last one may stay around for a bit so others can complete it--but it won't close anyway, so you can always do the exercises in it.

I think Carly will sticky this one sometime soon.

Deborah

Khadres
09-08-2004, 09:08 AM
I like the point you've illustrated so well about the foreground NOT necessarily being gritty in detail. By grit, I mean foregrounds where the artist has decided that since the foreground is closest, we MUST see the grit by grit detail whether that belongs in the composition or not. I think this is where photography can sometimes point the way in that your focus point tends to blur everything before and behind it. While a painting wouldn't want to do THAT exactly, it does point up what's important enough to expend tons of detail on and what's not. I've caught myself doing this fairly often, especially when my left brain is exerting too much control over what I see "logically". I gues there's seeing and then there's seeing, huh? :D

Deborah Secor
09-08-2004, 10:40 AM
Yep, Sooz, that ole logical, rational part of the brain wants to make everything plain, described just the way it's perceived when we look right at it. But the artist sees differently than the camera (thank God!), which tends to either blur all but the focal area, or over-detail everything from here to the horizon and beyond (which is much more commonly seen as a result of auto-focus cameras these days, I think).

It is a struggle to figure out the right amount of detail without overdoing it. I try to think of it as a combination of the way I see when I'm looking at the focal area (assuming the center of interest is elsewhere), which often puts the fore into that softer peripheral vision, and the way I see the fore when I look directly at it so it becomes clear and detailed. It is a fine line to walk and we're all going to make different judgments about how it should be! The 'rules' are generalizations, the result of many a trial-and-error, but not hard and fast, don't-ever-do-that laws!

Ah, the freedom of seeing like an artist, as you said! :D

Deborah

dragonlady
09-08-2004, 11:09 AM
Deborah, this looks great - I will really try to do this one. I have been trying to find the time for the last lesson and keep getting sidetracked. Thanks for the time you're putting into these, although I haven't managed to produce anything specifiaclly for the last lesson I have still read it carefully and am trying to apply it to what I am doing.

Deborah Secor
09-08-2004, 11:18 AM
Joy, there's still time to do the exercises any time--but I'm glad the ideas are working in your thoughts already. I find that applying new ideas is what it's all about whether I do the 'homework' or not! Just use them! :D

Deborah

SweetBabyJ
09-08-2004, 12:13 PM
*grumble*grumble*grumble*whine*sigh*mutter*whinesomemore*

You did this on purpose, didn't you?

Okay, okay- I'll try.

PS: I miss the frog in that one piece.

Mikki Petersen
09-08-2004, 01:23 PM
Deborah, great lesson, great examples, great inspiration...gotta take it in and try some of these ideas. Thank you for doing this.

Meldy
09-08-2004, 01:36 PM
Wow. Deborah you are definately one of my mentors. I havn't really done many landscapes but I know that one day I will when the mood strikes. I am absorbing this wonderful information and storing it away for use later whether it be for a landscape or something else as it applies to art in general. When I have the time I will definately have to do a landscape if only to show my appreciation for the hard work you have gone thru to educate us!

Deborah Secor
09-08-2004, 02:14 PM
*grumble*grumble*grumble*whine*sigh*mutter*whinesomemore*

You did this on purpose, didn't you?

Okay, okay- I'll try.

PS: I miss the frog in that one piece.

LOL Julie! That frog was a goner a loooong time ago!

Um, yes, I did this on purpose. I decided foregrounds would make you crazy, so I'm torturing you with information. Try it...dare ya...& go ahead, whine all ya want! :wink2:

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-08-2004, 02:17 PM
Thanks, Mikki and Meldy. I really hope the information will help us all think about things more. But remember, everyone, it's in the DOING we learn the most... :wave: <----pastel covered hand waving

Deborah

SweetBabyJ
09-08-2004, 02:36 PM
LOL Julie! That frog was a goner a loooong time ago!

Um, yes, I did this on purpose. I decided foregrounds would make you crazy, so I'm torturing you with information. Try it...dare ya...& go ahead, whine all ya want! :wink2:

Deborah

She likes me! She really, really likes me! :D

Lemme finish this tree, and then I'll try- promise. I even promise to post it (where can I get an assumed name around here?)

prestonsega
09-09-2004, 04:05 AM
An excellent collection of paintings to illustrate your lessons. I truly appreciat your efforts.

Dyin
09-09-2004, 09:54 AM
Wow...must have taken ages to upload all those pics....what a good lesson! And I just happen to have a charcoal and yes....SOFT pastel study I did that I'm going to do larger and could use some help with. The piece will be more horizontally compressed when I re-do it larger, so the lit sky will be more of a 1/2 disc than a horizontal slash and the mountain will be a steeper angle. The foreground is supposed to be bushes on an overlook area. I don't want to raise them on the right and hide the view of the distant valley peeking through (which will be a little lighter in value...only had the one color as I only own 7 softies now). Am wondering if I toned down the lighter leaves in the right third if it would open up more. This is from a ref in image library by CP. Anything that will help would be appreciated! And again...great lesson!


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Sep-2004/19147-color_study_landscape_paintstik.jpg

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 10:28 AM
Sue, I love the sky in this one! It's certianly a lot of ground plane, though of course most of it is middle-ground. I think your compositional changes sound like an improvement (though it's a bit hard to visualize--maybe play in PSP and show us a little more of what you're planning!)

The foreground bushes on the overlook seem to be the same size and shape as the middle ground bushes and trees on the hillside. If I were you I'd mass them more, and make them a little bigger in scale and stroke, to define them as nearer. If you increase the slope of the whole mountain you might also allow the foreground to slope off the page sooner, raising the height of it on the left side, thus allowing the view of the distance to be seen. That's the area of focus, the mesa and the roadway with the figure on it, so enhance those shapes and colors and let the foreground trees support it by pointing there.

It seems to me that the darkest darks are in the distance, which may be the fault of the scan or my monitor, but if it's true I'd lessen those distant darks with some reddish-purples (fromt he sky) and add some lavender to the distant ground plane (you say you have only 7 colors??? Amazing! You need more--or you need to do this in OPs! :cool: ) Add some punch to the focal area with more darks, too.

Okay, I noodled in photoshop. I have no skills but maybe this will continue the discussion. I'm not entirely thrilled with the angles I ended with but ran out of time to play.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Sep-2004/23609-landscape_paintstik.jpg

What size is this one, BTW? I'd love to see what else you decide to do. Thanks for sharing...

Deborah

Dyin
09-09-2004, 10:59 AM
thanks Deborah...that's really helpful. it's 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 and I plan on 16x20. The far areas aren't as dark as the mid ground in my study, but because the cloud shadows fall there, it's darker than normal...the far mountain is blue with a fog bank on the top. But agree the distant fields need more aerial perspective. One question...with the mountain slope I'll have and then running the foreground bushes down like that, will the dark areas on the right be enough to stop and lift the eye or will they want to slide off the page?
This was my first time with charcoal...got your thin whip vine and a fat soft one...whew...what a mess! And just the amount of softy I used here messed my sinus up terribly...so 7 will remain lol. I'm going to be trying this with the Paintstiks.
Oh, the figure is actually a tiny vehicle raising a dust cloud...is the red too much? More darks in the focal area is a good idea...it was really hard to control two mediums I'm not that familiar with...it was just to be charcoal at first but the color is kind of integral to the whole. Ok...here's CP's ref pic...now don't laugh at my try after seeing it, this shot is square, mine is too long, but as it was a study, I forgot to scale it to the 16x20 format I'll use. I was more concerned with values and whether i could even come close to it with my lack of landscape skills. And I knew I couldn't leave so many pure dark areas in it. The sky I'm not worried about, a little worried about getting the right colors for the hillside and not getting too detailed, but having enough to make it believeable. I did use some artist license :) and you can see I was struggling with the foreground...so your timing with this class was fortuitous!
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Sep-2004/19147-mountain_storm_by_cp.jpg

Kathryn Wilson
09-09-2004, 11:33 AM
Hi Dee - I loved looking through all of these paintings - each one gives a good example of what can be included in a painting. :crying: The one of Canyon DeChelly really reminds me of one of my biggest failures - will have to try that one again.

Going to share a few paintings I've done, then will get on to my car painting which still needs to foreground done - this will be a big help with that. :)

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 11:53 AM
Hi Dee - I loved looking through all of these paintings - each one gives a good example of what can be included in a painting. :crying: The one of Canyon DeChelly really reminds me of one of my biggest failures - will have to try that one again.

Going to share a few paintings I've done, then will get on to my car painting which still needs to foreground done - this will be a big help with that. :)

Great, Kat, love that you've shared the paintings! But before we say anything about these I suggest you tell US what you think worked and why... :) Part of this exercise is to analyze and put into words what you see as working, and what you think needs to be changed. Then we can all look at it and discuss it! (Refer back to my paintings California Skyline and River Way to get the idea.) Having said that, I really like both of these paintings and think the fores work pretty well for a number of reasons... :D But you talk first, okay?

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 11:55 AM
Sue--I'm not ignoring you, I just have to go teach a class right now! Neat photo...More later!

Deborah

Kathryn Wilson
09-09-2004, 12:12 PM
Hi Dee - both of these were very early paintings for me, so they won't be worked on again.

Viewing the first one with the adobe house, I remember how I struggled with the foreground. The wispy plants were hard to give body to, and with the adobe in the background, I wanted good texture to the garden. I think I've got good movement and texture, but I now see that I don't have the tonal value it might have had to bring the eye into the painting more.

The second one was pure whimsey on my part - again, a very early painting that did well in a show much to my surprise. But the shadows in this painting bring a strong abstract look to the foreground, but also lead the eye right up to those trees. Can't change this one - it's sold.

SweetBabyJ
09-09-2004, 09:24 PM
*ahem*

The technique I used in my project was to de-emphasize the foreground, allowing the eye to enter without distraction. I simply echoed colours from elsewhere. (Like you can do much else with water... lol)


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Sep-2004/9169-ColoH2OFall2foregrgoundex.jpg




*preen*
Thank-you, Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 09:43 PM
Hm, Julie... For some reason your composition reminds me of a painting by Handell--not in subject matter but because he occasionally uses that shallow fore very successfully. In this one he's used a wall with some shadows, but because of the color and value it functions a lot like yours. (This is a crummy photo I took out of one of his books... sorry for the quality!)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Sep-2004/23609-Handell-PortalShadows.jpg


Yours is a really beautiful painting. But you knew that. :)

*assuming role of teacher, hairbun optional*

Now, Julie, how about one with a foreground that's 50-75% of the picture plane???
:p

Deborah

SweetBabyJ
09-09-2004, 09:53 PM
Wow! That'd be a really tall wall, doncha think? Hardly worth looking over....

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 09:54 PM
thanks Deborah...that's really helpful. it's 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 and I plan on 16x20. The far areas aren't as dark as the mid ground in my study, but because the cloud shadows fall there, it's darker than normal...the far mountain is blue with a fog bank on the top. But agree the distant fields need more aerial perspective. One question...with the mountain slope I'll have and then running the foreground bushes down like that, will the dark areas on the right be enough to stop and lift the eye or will they want to slide off the page?



Seeing the ref shows me what you meant. I don't think it needs strong darks in the distant right, because the sky will draw the eye that direction no matter what--it's inescapable! I agree that you'll have to carefully compose the slopes and intervals of both the fore bushes and the mountain, but done right the sky will carry it off. I think if you allow the darks out there to get too heavy you'll destroy the illusion of distance.

Question: what do you want to be the focal area? Just be sure that the foreground plane supports and moves the eye there...

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 10:05 PM
Hi Dee - both of these were very early paintings for me, so they won't be worked on again.
I don't think changing them is what's important, Kat, just that we think 'out loud' about what worked and what didn't! :)


Viewing the first one with the adobe house, I remember how I struggled with the foreground. The wispy plants were hard to give body to, and with the adobe in the background, I wanted good texture to the garden. I think I've got good movement and texture, but I now see that I don't have the tonal value it might have had to bring the eye into the painting more.
Yeah, I agree. Looking back on this one, which I remember seeing, I think the darker streaks in the grasses break the movement of it into horizontal stripes a bit too much--so if the tones were massed more it would be better. We all learn a lot without even realizing it sometimes!


The second one was pure whimsey on my part - again, a very early painting that did well in a show much to my surprise. But the shadows in this painting bring a strong abstract look to the foreground, but also lead the eye right up to those trees. Can't change this one - it's sold.
A really strong foreground, as you say! Why? It does a great job of adding interesting angles, leading the eye and repeating an interesting color.

Thanks for showing these!!

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 10:08 PM
Wow! That'd be a really tall wall, doncha think? Hardly worth looking over....

Depends on what was IN FRONT of the wall... :evil:

Deborah

Dyin
09-09-2004, 10:18 PM
Seeing the ref shows me what you meant. I don't think it needs strong darks in the distant right, because the sky will draw the eye that direction no matter what--it's inescapable! I agree that you'll have to carefully compose the slopes and intervals of both the fore bushes and the mountain, but done right the sky will carry it off. I think if you allow the darks out there to get too heavy you'll destroy the illusion of distance.

Question: what do you want to be the focal area? Just be sure that the foreground plane supports and moves the eye there...

Deborah

In the ref the sky is the focal point, it was for me...I want the same effect in my piece. My earliest version did have the furthest mountain very pale and the flat ground too, but it was too LIGHT and took attention away from the drama in the sky...what do you suggest to keep the drama which I think comes from the dark 'frame'? I sharpened my study btw...in RL the distance is much more unfocused, which I thought helped...not defending my choices, but not sure how to work all this together.

Deborah Secor
09-09-2004, 10:42 PM
In the ref the sky is the focal point, it was for me...I want the same effect in my piece. My earliest version did have the furthest mountain very pale and the flat ground too, but it was too LIGHT and took attention away from the drama in the sky...what do you suggest to keep the drama which I think comes from the dark 'frame'? I sharpened my study btw...in RL the distance is much more unfocused, which I thought helped...not defending my choices, but not sure how to work all this together.

Sue, in that case I suspect it isn't as much a matter of lightening the values, but in controlling the color. If it's cooler and just a hair lighter in color it will seem farther away and still surround the light of the sky.I think the softening you suggest would help too!

Be careful not to let the vehicle and its cloud become too interesting! The red is rather compelling, though small enough in this version not to be a problem. In the larger one it could fight.

Deborah

Dyin
09-09-2004, 11:13 PM
Thanks Deborah! I agree about the vehicle, was never sure I'd keep it red, but it wasn't showing in this tiny version any other way lol...thanks for the thoughts on how to handle the foreground bushes. I have a ways to go getting used to these paintsticks, so I'll practice doing that effect before hand as an exercise.

Julie...i really like that scene!

SweetBabyJ
09-10-2004, 12:58 AM
Man! You really took a big bite here, didn't you? This is going to be spectacular if it works- maybe take a wander through those Hudson River School guys again to see how they handled that kind of sky view- they made it glow like I know you want to.

Hope those oil sticks are "perfect"!!

Dyin
09-10-2004, 01:02 AM
yep...good thing I have a big mouth! If it works is the key phrase here, but I'm going to try hard...came close enough to feeling maybe I can if I'm careful and take my time...this was one that you HAD to kind of blur as it's soooo huge a scene...maybe THAT's the secret lol! Still need to explore those oil sticks and see what they've got. :D

SweetBabyJ
09-10-2004, 01:09 AM
Good luck- I'll be watching!

(Wonder if I can talk 'em into letting me road test the entire set of Unisons?)

prestonsega
09-10-2004, 01:16 AM
This is a 1 hour 15 min sketch for the weekly thread..I did it with the intention of posting here also. With the fence, sidewalk, and street, approximately 50% of the picture plane is foreground. The shadows are the star of this work in my mind. I have plans of refining this work to a completed state.


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/29946-picketfence.jpg

Deborah Secor
09-10-2004, 10:50 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/29946-picketfence.jpg
Preston, this one is a good example of how to use the fore to support, direct and enhance the work. I want to ask you what you think the focal area is meant to be, however...

I don't want to start 'explaining' it, especially if you'll do it...(but I'll run with it if you don't want to!!) It really works well to illustrate some of the principles in my first post. :music: :D

Deborah

pjo
09-10-2004, 10:55 AM
Hi Deborah, this is wonderful, great paintings to illustrate what you are teaching us here. Thank you again for all your encouragement and teaching!

I worked on a painting (8 X 10 on pumiced, gessoed board) that I started in Paul Murray's class at the Expo. It has about 2/3 foreground. This foreground is interesting to me because it is varied in light and shadow, and in color. I tried to blue down the sunlight and shadows toward the back of the foreground, and added brighter yellows, greens and a touch of orange to the nearer foreground to bring it forward. I tried to pattern the grasses with color and shapes. As far as composition, I still have some questions. Do the strong diagonals lead the viewer out of the painting? And do I need to difine some of the more distant tree shapes a bit more? The varied texture on this board really helped to create varied strokes on the grass and trees. C & C appreciated.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/39207-IM001501s.JPGOops, this looks less detailed, bluer and has lost some of the brightness in transition.

Preston-I really like the shadows you have developed in your foreground, I love the look of dappled sunlight and shadows, and am looking forward to seeing this develop.

Sue-I love the glow in the sky, it looks like its going to be a stunner, and I think your foreground road with or without the car will lead us right there.

Julie-I like how you are sure of what you do and why, your explaination is to the point and clear. That is part of why I really like this thread Deborah has started (and of course taking classes from her too) is that it makes me think of the why's, and what for's of painting.

lawsportraits
09-10-2004, 11:23 AM
Hi Deborah! :wave:

Allthese pieces are beautiful! I particularly like the one done by Richard McKinley. Do you know what surface he worked on?

I am working on a portrait of a horse that involves a full background. I am having problems with the foreground grasses. I'm not feeling brave enough to post though. I may have to post privately.

Heather

Deborah Secor
09-10-2004, 11:34 AM
Do the strong diagonals lead the viewer out of the painting? And do I need to difine some of the more distant tree shapes a bit more?


PJ, I saw this painting in its early stages and it's very strong! I love the color work you've done to it. It has a mood that's very nice--that bright warmth when the sun escapes for a few minutes. The textures are so pleasing, too.

Your question about the strong diagonals could become moot if you think about how shadows become lighter in value as they proceed away from the thing casting them. If you slightly lighten the value of those shadow shapes as they near the edge of the paper, feeding a bit more of the grass colors into them, I think you'll minimize the problem without diminishing hte strength. You might also add some sunlit grassy strokes that protrude up over the shadows to break the line a bit more, which might point visually to the foreground tree, or break the line of the shadows toward the edge (or the judicious use of both of these, maybe!)

There's one awkward spot that needs addressing. The line of yellowish grasses behind that tree makes it appear to be one short, spindly tree in front and one bushy one directly behind it. (This might be because of the resolution of the photo...not sure.) The shadow shows it was meant to be one tree, so if I were you I'd make the light bounce around in there more throughout it, so it's not such a straight line. You could feather over it some, too, to push it behind.

I think you have to decide exactly how may trees you have and make the shadows behave accordingly. It works well in the fore but falls off a little farther out. Here's what I perceived, but if you intended it to be different this will show you what's confusing!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/23609-PJ_trees2.JPG

Hope this helps...

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-10-2004, 11:41 AM
Hi Deborah! :wave:

Allthese pieces are beautiful! I particularly like the one done by Richard McKinley. Do you know what surface he worked on?

I am working on a portrait of a horse that involves a full background. I am having problems with the foreground grasses. I'm not feeling brave enough to post though. I may have to post privately.

Heather

Heather, I love the McKinley piece too. His work is so beautiful. I don't know what surface he uses, but he's written extensively for The Pastel Journal, and shown his paintings there, so you can probably find out...

You're more than welcome to send your horse painting to me privately but I want to encourage you to share it here sometime. We often find in my classes that when we work together to see things--not just me critiquing, but all of us looking at the painting together (a lot like we do here at WC)--we all learn a lot more. After all, there's more than one way to solve things and more than one opinion on what works. Well, do whatever seems best to you, of course. :) I don't mean to be pushy!

This is turning into a great thread. :D

Deborah

Dyin
09-10-2004, 12:09 PM
Heather...I've seen some of your animal work...are you in the same boat as me with landscapes?? I have posted some horrid ones, trust me! But it really is the best way to learn. I know-it's hard when you can do well in some areas, I always felt it was a failing with landscapes, but there is no success without failure and it probably isn't near as bad as you think anyways. I'm in agreement with Deborah on this...no pressure, really! Just encouragement :)
(oh...and we learn from everyone too!)

pjo
09-10-2004, 03:12 PM
:wave: Hi Deborah, thanks for your comments. I can see right away what you mean about lightening the edges of the shadows and the light grasses showing thru the front tree. I'll try to get a little more work done on this one cause theres another one I'm working on thats I have foreground questions on also. This one is in the early stages, and I know the building's perspective is off some and plan to work more on it, but the question is with such a dark sky and the sky being the focal point, can I have a sunlight foreground w/o taking too much of the emphasis away from the sky? I'm trying to create a pathway with the patterns of grasses,and bushes, and ground shadows, looking at your example #6 of the shadows. At least this is what I hope to achieve. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/39207-IM001506s.JPG Who knows, looking at this here, it may be better without the old building and tree too, or maybe just the tree alone kinda silhouetted but off to one side.

Artistammy
09-10-2004, 03:40 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/3341-SantaFemtnswip4aWC.JPG
It's not good but I'm not sure what's the focal point. Before the last work I did I thought I'd make it the cholla cactus but now the yellow flowers are stealing some of it's impact. What do you see as the focal point?
I used the greying blue thing on the mountains to give depth & make them look distant. I put more color in the closest part & had it get lighter in the distance. The closest bushes are larger with the others getting progressively smaller with distance. I repeated the yellow flower bushes as shapes, color & to break up the space.

Artistammy
09-10-2004, 03:44 PM
PJO, I agree the house is getting a fair amount of attention with it being a different color & darker too. If you made it more the color family of the sky & not so much darker it might be a good addition without taking the focus away from the sky. Use a photoshop program to test it first. I should also not forget to say I love the sky!

Deborah Secor
09-10-2004, 04:44 PM
It's not good but I'm not sure what's the focal point. Before the last work I did I thought I'd make it the cholla cactus but now the yellow flowers are stealing some of it's impact. What do you see as the focal point?
I used the greying blue thing on the mountains to give depth & make them look distant. I put more color in the closest part & had it get lighter in the distance. The closest bushes are larger with the others getting progressively smaller with distance. I repeated the yellow flower bushes as shapes, color & to break up the space.

Tammy, we need to work on your self-confidence! :cool: This looks good and the work you've done on it (seen in your other thread) has made lots of improvements!

One way to help you begin to determine a focal point is to squint like crazy (details above! LOL) and find the place where your eye is first attracted. Most of the time it's at or near the place where the darkest dark and the lightest light come closest together. In this case my eye goes directly to the cholla (btw, this is pronounced CHOY-a, for those not from the southwest!!) and its yellow flowers. You pointed out all the other strenghts of the foreground here! :D So--it looks great! I really hope you're happy with it...

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-10-2004, 05:09 PM
This one is in the early stages, and I know the building's perspective is off some and plan to work more on it, but the question is with such a dark sky and the sky being the focal point, can I have a sunlight foreground w/o taking too much of the emphasis away from the sky? I'm trying to create a pathway with the patterns of grasses,and bushes, and ground shadows, looking at your example #6 of the shadows. At least this is what I hope to achieve.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/39207-IM001506s.JPG Who knows, looking at this here, it may be better without the old building and tree too, or maybe just the tree alone kinda silhouetted but off to one side.

PJ, You didn't say what size this is, but it feels big, very expansive--except for the building, which seems to throw off the scale for me somehow... If you want the sky to be the focal area, the house has gotta either go or be muted a LOT, in size, color and value. It definitely distracts at this point. I know you said it's early so maybe you have other plans, but for my 2 cents, I'd vote against it.

I don't think having sunlight in the foreground is any distraction, since it can easily be sunny here and cloudy out there, but I would pattern the middle ground, showing some shadowed spots and some sunlit areas, with some evidence of softer distant trees or other foliage. Then I think the patterns you need in the fore will fall into place.

Be sure to have one dramatic area in the sky that you want to point all the shapes toward, moving the eye there.

Beautiful start! You do such gorgeous skies!!!

Deborah

Artistammy
09-10-2004, 06:12 PM
LOl, Deborah. I do have trouble with confidence with something I haven't done before like this deserty landscape. I think I like it. Right now, I've looked at it so much today I'm going to let it sit & look at again tomorrow.

dragonlady
09-10-2004, 06:14 PM
Here's my attempt at this - not finished but should be enough to see where I'm going and if I'm going in the right direction?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/43451-locks---firststage.jpg

My thoughts:

I wish I'd chosen something simpler - those lock gates were a nightmare to paint at this angle, especially the left hand one which still isn't reading correctly.

The line of the lock wall and the edge of the grass lead the eye to the lock gates which lead you up to the focal point (the boat). The ridges on the right in a semi-circle reinforce this (if anyone's wondering what these are for they are set on the line the lock gate swings through when it closes so you can brace your feet on them as you push the gates closed to stop you ending up in a heap on the ground - those gates are HEAVY)

The shadows on the grass and the stones break up the foreground. The figure standing waiting for the boat links the foreground and background.

I need to have a look at the colours - at the moment they're probably all too much the same so not suggesting distance, particluarly the grass behind the figure.

prestonsega
09-10-2004, 06:38 PM
Preston, this one is a good example of how to use the fore to support, direct and enhance the work. I want to ask you what you think the focal area is meant to be, however...

I don't want to start 'explaining' it, especially if you'll do it...(but I'll run with it if you don't want to!!) It really works well to illustrate some of the principles in my first post. :music: :D

Deborah

Dee...the "focal point " is and has always been an issue for me. I feel the oak tree with its hightlights the focal point,,,,the light sidewalk and fence coming from the lower left and then stopping abruptly and with the sunlit grass in front of the tree lead the eye to it. The fence dimishes in intensity as it proceeds to the right of the picture plane and the dark foilage stops he eye from leavin the plane...the pitch of the roof also points to the tree as does the light triangular nondiscript stuff to the right of the picture plane.....am I gettin close????? Please take my work into photo shop and draw all over it ..Since I can't take a class in person I want to get as much of you "how to " as possible.

pjo
09-11-2004, 11:04 AM
:wave: I was able to work for another 1/2 hour this morning on this one. I lightenen the shadows as they moved away from the base of the trees a bit, and worked on the shape of the trees hopefully clarifing the confusion, your illustration Deborah really made me see what was unclear, the first two trees were actually one and hopefully I've corrected it. I'm also going to upload the photo, which this painting is a crop of. In the photo there is a nearer tree and shadow which I think may enhance the foreground and composition by stopping the eye from leading out. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2004/39207-IM001508s.JPG
And this is the uncropped photo.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2004/39207-IM001296s.JPG

Deborah Secor
09-11-2004, 11:50 AM
Here's my attempt at this - not finished but should be enough to see where I'm going and if I'm going in the right direction?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Sep-2004/43451-locks---firststage.jpg

My thoughts:

I wish I'd chosen something simpler - those lock gates were a nightmare to paint at this angle, especially the left hand one which still isn't reading correctly.

The line of the lock wall and the edge of the grass lead the eye to the lock gates which lead you up to the focal point (the boat). The ridges on the right in a semi-circle reinforce this (if anyone's wondering what these are for they are set on the line the lock gate swings through when it closes so you can brace your feet on them as you push the gates closed to stop you ending up in a heap on the ground - those gates are HEAVY)

The shadows on the grass and the stones break up the foreground. The figure standing waiting for the boat links the foreground and background.

I need to have a look at the colours - at the moment they're probably all too much the same so not suggesting distance, particluarly the grass behind the figure.

Joy, this is a really interesting painting, and you're right, the foreground functions for the reasons you mention. I really like the vivid greens and blues in the foreground plane, which draw and direct the eye.

You say the boat is to be the focal point, but my eye is drawn to the blinding white and black of the gate directly in front of the boat. That's so predominant! The colors and values used in the boat tend to merge into the trees behind it, except for the red and a touch of the white. Here it is in b&w:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2004/23609-Joy__locks---firststage.jpg

Do you see how, from a value standpoint, the gate is more compelling? The only way to make the boat the subject would be to dull the gate and change the value of the boat, so it's either lighter or darker, in order to draw the eye.

Now take that all with a grain of salt--because the boat DOESN'T HAVE to be the focal point! The gate is a very interesting set of shapes and it overlaps the boat--so don't rush to change things. Just take note of this. I see the boat, the gate and the man as being the focal area. :)

The other thing I'd do, if this was my painting, has nothing to do with the foreground, but I'd lighten the sky! You have lighter blues in the water that are really beautiful, and I think the painting would really open up and breathe if the sky was lighter in value.

I love the reflections in the water of the trees, boat and sky--beautifully painted! The shapes you've used move the eye to the subject particularly well, also, and the execution of this is really nice. Love the stones along the bank, too, and you did a great job of the shadows. I think shadows and reflections are challenging to paint!

Thanks for sharing this painting with us. You've done an excellent foreground!!

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-11-2004, 11:59 AM
Dee...the "focal point " is and has always been an issue for me. I feel the oak tree with its hightlights the focal point,,,,the light sidewalk and fence coming from the lower left and then stopping abruptly and with the sunlit grass in front of the tree lead the eye to it. The fence dimishes in intensity as it proceeds to the right of the picture plane and the dark foilage stops he eye from leavin the plane...the pitch of the roof also points to the tree as does the light triangular nondiscript stuff to the right of the picture plane.....am I gettin close????? Please take my work into photo shop and draw all over it ..Since I can't take a class in person I want to get as much of you "how to " as possible.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2004/23609-Pres_picketfence.jpg


I agree, the tree is the focal area. Everything you've pointed out is exactly right! I love the way my eye begins at the tree, swings around the arch of the dark triangle to its right, catches on the fencline, then along the gate back to the tree--with the other side of the fence, the roof and highlights and shadows to its left supporting it. It's wonderful!!!

My little picky-ditsy suggestion is that you could change the direction of that ivy trailing over the fence so that it swings to the left, which will keep the eye moving that direction--a minor thought, if there ever was one!

See, you knew it already... :D

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-11-2004, 12:06 PM
:wave: I was able to work for another 1/2 hour this morning on this one. I lightenen the shadows as they moved away from the base of the trees a bit, and worked on the shape of the trees hopefully clarifing the confusion, your illustration Deborah really made me see what was unclear, the first two trees were actually one and hopefully I've corrected it. I'm also going to upload the photo, which this painting is a crop of. In the photo there is a nearer tree and shadow which I think may enhance the foreground and composition by stopping the eye from leading out. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2004/39207-IM001508s.JPG
And this is the uncropped photo.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2004/39207-IM001296s.JPG

:wave: Good morning, PJ! You made this one much clearer in shape and value now! Good job. My only teensy suggestion is that you could interpret the shape of that immediate foreground shadow so that it's a little less straight and rigid, letting little bits of shadow float toward the trees and break up the land plane. I see why you chose to paint it this way from the bigger photo, but look at how the light might dance around along that edge, making it elegant and enhancing the focal area... Remember how I always say put the light into the dark and the dark into the light? This is the spot!

Now, mind you, this is a gorgeous little piece just as it is, and I know it's small, so do what works for you--but do show us if you make any more changes! :D

Deborah

EdK
09-11-2004, 12:17 PM
It's been a while since I've had an opportunity to paint, but here is my recent attempt and I think it fits in with the foreground subject lesson. It was the sagebrush along with the house that captured my attention. The house seems muddy, but was cast in the shade. Not sure what to do next. Any suggestions?

By the way - great thread Dee. Thanks for doing this.

Deborah Secor
09-11-2004, 12:35 PM
Wow, Ed--this is really a beautiful painting... If this is what you do when you haven't "had an opportunity to paint" I'm looking forward to you painting every day!!! :D

I like the unexpectedness of the location of the house set amid the movement of the brush and grasses. However, right now the shapes are leading me to the distant horizon on the right hand side and not back to the house. I don't want to suggest you do anything too terribly obvious or mechanical, such as put a tree out there, as I think it would diminish the mood. Instead, if I were you, I'd construct some shapes that quietly move the eye back around to the house.

Possibilities:1)The line of trees beyond the largest green tree on the right side could become a raggedy line that enhances movement back toward to the house instead of leading straight away. 2) The line of small trees that comes in from the right side (counter to the treeline I was speaking of in 1) could more strongly counter the movement and take you around to the house. There is an implied X there where the two lines of trees cross one another that can be used to direct the eye. 3)The smear of darker green bushes above the house could be shaped to move your eye toward the house more. 4) The bushes to the left side of the house could become more of a triangle pointing to the house. 5) The fencepost to the front and left of the house could angle more toward the house, instead of away from it.

You may or may not do any of these. I love the colors you've used--and as for 'mud', everyone needs some good mud colors to counter the clear colors. That house is abandoned and derelict, and this painting is about the emptiness, the way the grasses and bushes make beauty around things. I really like this one.

Show us any changes you decide to make, please. Oh, and I'm glad you like the thread! If you guys will rate it it will be easier to find in the Library...

:D Deborah

EdK
09-11-2004, 01:35 PM
Dee - Thanks for your suggestions. I guess my instincts told me that the eye was led to the horizon but I was not quite sure how to redirect the eye back to the house. I'll make some changes and post the revised drawing. Thanks for the encouragement.

judwal
09-11-2004, 03:36 PM
I did this one for the WDE this weekend. Any suggestings for improving this? It's done on toned paper about 15x20.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2004/43597-Sea_Grass_2_Reduced.jpg

detail below

Deborah Secor
09-11-2004, 03:52 PM
Judy, it's lovely! The colors are pleasing to me and your use of just enough detail is excellent. I think all the counter-movement in the grass is working quite well.

This is what I always call a 'here and there' painting, which doesn't have a lot of middle ground showing, (just suggested here), and is usually all about figure and ground.

Your less-is-more approach to the water and sand is great, and the textures of the grasses work nicely. I'd sign it! :D

Deborah

judwal
09-11-2004, 04:14 PM
Thanks Deborah. I appreciate your comments and time. Love these lessons and paintings that you've posting here. They are very helpful! I have learned so much in the short time I've been a member here. I can't thank you enough for all the time involved.

prestonsega
09-11-2004, 05:18 PM
"--a minor thought, if there ever was one!"

Maybe a minor point, but one that makes sense and I would never have seen it out,,,,,,,thanks Teach!

dragonlady
09-12-2004, 09:25 AM
Thanks so much Deborah, I see what you mean about the boat blending into the background but I rather like the whole group being the focal point so I think I'll leave it as it is. I have toned down the blinding white a little, as the end of the balance bar is meant to be in shadow :) . I agree with you about the sky too so I've lightened that. I'll post this in the main pastel forum and see what the rest think, they're bound to have some opinions :)

MollyUnlimited
09-12-2004, 09:38 AM
Wow! This thread has been SO useful and helpful! I never even THOUGHT about foregrounds before. Since I paint (simple - no props) portraits exclusively at this point, I just never gave it much thought. So this week I was inspired to try a portrait with a foreground and this is what I came up with (also in another thread):

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Sep-2004/49177-Kasey_portrait_final_sm.JPG

Thanks SO much Dee for all your hard work on this!!!! You are the best!

Marge Cline
09-12-2004, 11:34 AM
I'm not sure if this painting qualifies as working on a foreground, but have never done a pooch before and want to learn how to "make fur". After I took this picture I thought my son's hair and jeans sort of looked like his dog's fur and so I will make all three focal points. :wink2: am trying to decide how much, if anything, of what else shows up on on the ground to include in the foreground. suggestions/comments welcome. marge

Deborah Secor
09-12-2004, 01:01 PM
Wow! This thread has been SO useful and helpful! I never even THOUGHT about foregrounds before. Since I paint (simple - no props) portraits exclusively at this point, I just never gave it much thought. So this week I was inspired to try a portrait with a foreground and this is what I came up with (also in another thread)

Thanks SO much Dee for all your hard work on this!!!! You are the best!

Molly, since I don't do portraits I never thought about them as having a foreground--but, in fact, this one does. I guess you'll have to talk to the portrait pros to get more advice, but this looks quite good to me!

Oh, and you're more than welcome. I enjoy teaching so much. :D

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-12-2004, 01:18 PM
I'm not sure if this painting qualifies as working on a foreground, but have never done a pooch before and want to learn how to "make fur". After I took this picture I thought my son's hair and jeans sort of looked like his dog's fur and so I will make all three focal points. :wink2: am trying to decide how much, if anything, of what else shows up on on the ground to include in the foreground. suggestions/comments welcome. marge

Love the raggedy twosome here, Marge! You're right, they go together. :) Since you haven't gotten too far into this one in terms of the foreground it's a little hard to see where you plan to go. One slightly distracting thing for me is the bright blue you've used so far. To me it suggests the sky, which makes me feel as if I'm looking UP at them, but then the angles read as odd. If you include a horizon line (the bottom of the garage door in the photo) you'll ground the whole thing more. A change of value will help too, although I don't think you have to describe every detail you see there. The blue is pretty dazzling--often if you reserve the more saturated colors for the subject you have more success in pulling it to the fore.

One other small thing. In the photo his shoe is not white. It actually almost matches his jeans for value. Be careful not to let it stay too light or it will direct the eye out of the picture.

Show us where you go with this one--and maybe we can give some advice on fur, too! I really like where you're heading... :)


And by the way, gang--I'm not the only one who can give an opinion about ANY of these paintings, so join in with your thoughts and observations any time...

Deborah

Marge Cline
09-12-2004, 11:09 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I like bright colors, but now see the sense in toning them down in the background. Angel's fur is fun AND challenging! Not happy with the driveway yet, but I'll keep playing around with it. Marge

Deborah Secor
09-14-2004, 09:54 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I like bright colors, but now see the sense in toning them down in the background. Angel's fur is fun AND challenging! Not happy with the driveway yet, but I'll keep playing around with it. Marge

Marge, this is really coming along nicely... :cool: It helped to tone down that shoe, and the windblown furry look is developing on the dog. One thing, don't let the edge of the paper make you feel like you have to squeeze the dog in at the bottom. Let her go off the page--it can still read right.

I know that these furry beasts can look big with all that hair. The challenge is to show the structure of the body under it all, which is not easy! Take a look at Heather Laws' (lawsportraits) or Debra Jones' (dj*) dogs. They are both great at painting dogs!

As for the driveway, I think part of the problem is that you've made a big jump from the light of the garage door to the dark of the pavement. I suspect if you sightly darken the door and lighten the pavement, it might work somewhat better.

I really like what you're doing here, so keep going. :D

Deborah

Marge Cline
09-14-2004, 11:05 PM
Angel has so much fur, it's impossible to see her "structure" underneath it all. :) I am not happy with the driveway yet. Think I should have put it all in before finishing up the dog hair on the edges. Will have to work more on that.

EdK
09-14-2004, 11:35 PM
I changed the fence posts to point toward the house. I also changed the tree line in the upper right, eliminating some and adding others as suggested to redirect the eye back to the house. Great suggestions and I can see a difference. Debating on whether to mess with it some more or leave it as is.

lawsportraits
09-15-2004, 11:03 AM
Angel has so much fur, it's impossible to see her "structure" underneath it all. :) I am not happy with the driveway yet. Think I should have put it all in before finishing up the dog hair on the edges. Will have to work more on that.


Hi Marge, :wave:

I think I may be able to help a little with your beast. I do see one thing that may be helpful for you. The original photo shows some delicious contrast between lights and darks on your hound. The value contrasts are very distinct, especially in the face and chest. I think if you play up those contrasts you will see things come together a bit more, the underlying structure will become more apparent.

I find one thing that always works for me is a value study before I begin to paint. This way I can better understand and make sense of the relationship between vales, how they work together to emphasize three dimensional form.

Heather

Marge Cline
09-15-2004, 11:00 PM
PLayed with the beast a bit more. Think I'll call this one finished and take the lessons learned on to the next one. Thanks for all the c & c. Marge

Deborah Secor
09-17-2004, 10:26 AM
I changed the fence posts to point toward the house. I also changed the tree line in the upper right, eliminating some and adding others as suggested to redirect the eye back to the house. Great suggestions and I can see a difference. Debating on whether to mess with it some more or leave it as is.

Hi Ed. I've been remiss and not come in to comment soon enough :o --so you may have made more decisions on this one, but I love what you've done here! All of the shapes have been changed to direct my eye to the house. VERY nice! I'd just sign it, if it was my painting... :D

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-17-2004, 10:29 AM
PLayed with the beast a bit more. Think I'll call this one finished and take the lessons learned on to the next one. Thanks for all the c & c. Marge

Marge, I think your final painting is a real success. These two seem to go together, and overall the spirit of the painting is carefree, breezy. YOu seem to have caught the same expression on their two faces (in a positive way!) which I saw in your original photo. I think you should count this one a success!

Deborah

Deborah Secor
09-19-2004, 10:53 PM
Anyone else have any foreground paintings to share? I'd love to see those you think are successful, and have you share why you think they worked so well. We started out that way but it sorta turned into a workshop instead. That's fine too, of course, but it would be fun to see more work!

Anybody???

Meanwhile, how's this for a foreground painting??? An Templeton, Spaces In Harmony:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2004/23609-Templeton_spacesinharmony.jpg
Do you think it works? Why or why not??? (I think this one might be an oil--she works in both media. It could as easily have been done in pastel, though, so we'll look at it anyway--okay?)

Deborah

chewie
09-21-2004, 09:37 PM
here's what i just posted in another thread, but it fits well in this foreground discussion. in the photo i took, there were only very short, just coming-up spring grasses, with plenty of plain ol dirt. i wanted the pond after an idea i seen in the RIL, but somehow that one didn't work for me. this is such a great thing of you deb, thanks for your efforts!

Deborah Secor
09-22-2004, 04:43 PM
:wave: Hey chewie, this is a really neat painting! Yep, it's a foreground painting, all right!! :D You've done a beautiful job of the reflection, which could have been too distracting. Very nice! I like the way you drew the eye to the horse with the large dark tree behind him and the way you used the rocks and reflections, and the other big tree (perfect values, all of these!) over on the other side to stop the eye from going off the page. Good example--thanks for sharing it!

Deborah

pjo
09-22-2004, 05:51 PM
Deborah- Regarding the Ann Templeton painting, hmmm. I really love the vibrancy of the color, the contrast between the deep purple hills and the yellow foreground. It is very striking. The colors really separate the space into foreground, midground, background. I'm not sure about the strong dark horizontal shape though? It is the first thinkg I see. I think that the intent is to come into the painting at the line of trees, move up the road to the dark hills, then to the sky, (Maybe?), but I'm not quite sure my eye does that.

Chewie-This is a very restful painting. The reflections are spot on w/o taking away from your center of interest.

Edk-Very nice painting here, I can tell you've thought about the composition and feel the fence does a good job in directing my eye to the house.

I posted this one earlier in the thread, and think I've worked out some issues. I've eliminated the building, added a road, actually, everything including the mountains forward has been redone. I also, picked a cloud or an area of the sky to focus on at Deborah's suggestion. I think I'm done. I'm going to let it sit a week or two and look at it fresh. Does the foreground lead you into the painting now? Are the colors in the foreground too much, distracting from the focal point?
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Sep-2004/39207-IM001522s.JPG
BTW is 18 1/2 X 24, soft pastels on Wallis

Deborah Secor
09-22-2004, 06:24 PM
PJ, I think this is much stronger without the house in it! The sky is beautifully painted--you do great skies! Beautiful resolution. Great sense of depth. You should be happy!!! :D

Deborah

chewie
09-22-2004, 07:00 PM
ooo, this is great. i feel very 'invited' into this painting. and feel like i can taste the fresh air, and freedom of the place. love it!

EdK
09-22-2004, 11:10 PM
PJ - Wonderful painting. The darker colors on either side of the road helps direct you to the road which leads you further into the painting. Nice work.

pjo
09-24-2004, 09:11 AM
Deborah-Thanks for your generous comments, I was able to really think about creating depth in this one in part because of your previous ESP on glazing. I glazed a blue tone over the tanny/oranges I had to help create distance on this one. Thanks again for all your efforts, teaching and wisdom, and for being willing to share with everyone.

Chewie-I'm glad you feel invited into this one, thats what I intended, its great to hear when someone feels or understands what I am trying to communicate. This is so typical of New Mexico, at least in my minds eye, I've lived here all my life, and just love the vast sky, and openness of the landscape, sometime I truly feel I can see forever here.

Edk-Thanks for your encouragement, usually foregrounds are difficult for me and I redo them many times, this thread has really helped me to focus on the foregrounds place and purpose, which of course changes with each painting.

paloma
09-28-2004, 06:12 AM
Deborah, This lesson is just sooo inspirational - can't wait to get to the drawing board! Must have taken ages to download all these wonderful pics from such talented artists including your good self. Many thanks for all the advice you offer to us with such generosity :cat: :cat: Alexandra