View Full Version : Fair Day WIP

Deborah Secor
04-16-2005, 06:04 PM
I'm going to need a lotta help on this one! It's not my usual subject matter. I'm posting the beginning stage here, although I'm a bit farther along already. It will be an illustration for an article if it's acceptably good. As I go along I'll be seeking other eyes to help me out. I sure hope some of you will be around--this is terra incognita for me!!!


This is on Wallis, toned by wiping out another painting, and it's 17"x23". I figured I needed more space to get all those figures into place! As soon as I can get another decent shot of it I'll post. I'm going to have to complete this PDQ, so help! (Oh btw--I fixed that arm on the woman in the front right already, I think!)


04-16-2005, 06:36 PM
Wow, gonna watch this with interest Dee..... definately not your norm.... I like what you have got started ..... just a thought already, sorry ..... the guy on the left.... is very tall ... of course that can be the case :) .. but wonder if he would overpower the whole setting...... maybe make him a head shorter...... just my thoughts of course

04-16-2005, 07:45 PM
Ah now, doesn't this one look like fun. You're brave, but I've confidence in you. I agree with Dawn the guy on the left could be a tad shorter. No other comments for now, you've got a good start.

Deborah Secor
04-16-2005, 07:45 PM
I wonder about that guy, too! He's monstrous! I've been noodling with him and I'm not resolved yet. I'm thinking about putting another figure in front of him...but I don't know...I'm trying to mass together some dark colors in the front left side so the focus goes up to the booths and the mass of people more. Not there yet!


Oooo, hate that arm on that woman that's front right. I think I may put her arm in front of her.

Here's the first layer of color completed. I need to resolve a lot of things now. Suggestions welcomed!! Inotherwords: HELP please!


Kathryn Wilson
04-16-2005, 07:55 PM
Boy, do I like this - and it certainly is not your usual - so bravo for trying something different!

Take a look at the tall guy's head - you have it boxed in with black lines that make it stand out even more.

Of course, the lady's shoulder is sloping down, so that makes her arm look off.

If the light in the people's hair is so golden yellow, there might be some of that same color in the tents?

Just a thought - how about a river of color going back towards the tents? Say pick the woman's blue shirt and repeat that color here and there until it ends at the end of the tents. This just jumped into my pea brain - it may be too obvious for you.

04-16-2005, 08:24 PM
It's luminous already!!!


04-16-2005, 08:40 PM
Great subject! You are very brave!

The tall guy doesn't bother me, as he is in subdued color right now. I'm with you on the foreground figure's arm......my eye keeps going there thinking something just isn't right. What is the yellow in the just right of center area? I'm assuming it to be block-in for the center of interest, but can't tell at this stage.

I agree with Johnnie.....has great luminosity!

Piper Ballou
04-16-2005, 10:22 PM
Speaking as one who is tall, you need the tall guy, everyone else is just about the same size and that is that the way the world works....do not think he distracts at all
one thing-my eye is pulled to the lady in the center of paintings-blond hair, blue shirt...and she seems to be off centered a bit....could just be me

Natalie NZ
04-16-2005, 10:32 PM
This is super Deboral - gosh you are brave attempting such a mass of people but you are pulling it off very well. The woman's dark hair is obscuring the little boy with the balloon a little which is maybe why Westerngirl couldn't pick it up. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Susan Borgas
04-16-2005, 11:24 PM
I wonder about that guy, too! He's monstrous! I've been noodling with him and I'm not resolved yet. I'm thinking about putting another figure in front of him...but I don't know...I'm trying to mass together some dark colors in the front left side so the focus goes up to the booths and the mass of people more. Not there yet!

I love this one :) I personally like the tall guy and the free space in front of him as it is giving some relief for my eye to see past the crowd. I love the over all depth that you have achieved in such a difficult scene.

Deborah Secor
04-17-2005, 12:28 AM
Good catch, Kat. I muted the contrast inside all the booths, and that's modified the frame around tall guy's head!

Thanks Johnnie... I hope it stays luminous.

Deb, I think I fixed that woman's arm by placing her purse under it. It explains the odd angle better, I think. I reshaped her shoulder too. Yep, that's a yellow balloon. I've added a few more balloons to help explain it better. :wink2:

Piper, that middle lady looks like she's tripping. I don't quite know how to fix it yet but it's bugging me too, since she's pretty central to the picture. I've removed that big square thing from in front of her feet (a bag, I think) and I'll see if I can get her legs and feet under her more. Time will tell on this one...

Natalie, do you think there's too much dark hair obscuring things? I'm thinking of the three darker frontal figures as being kind of like fence posts, and the gaps as places that allow you to enter the picture plane. I'm going to have to play with it, though.

Susan, I like that space in front of tall guy, too. I'm considering turning his head so he's facing the crowd, if I can manage it, which might direct the eye into the picture plane more... My problem is I think most folks would be looking at the art! I'm also not a figure painter and I don't know if I can describe his face well enough that way. (I only have two figures facing us...and one with her head down. Clever, eh?) :D

I'll look at it in the light of day tomorrow, if I find the time, and post an update for you all. Many, many thanks!!!


04-17-2005, 02:42 AM
gosh, what only goes on overnight when I am asleep. Grrr.

Deborah, hope I am not too late -if I am, then you can ignore me.

I have some concerns about the composition. This is why( thought it best to show rather than try to describe with words, its quicker) It's to do with visual directions and links:


This is what I feel it needs:


If you, the artist, is standing, then heads will mostly be more or less in line with yours (allowing for different heights of people), and it feels odd to me that ALL the people are shorter on the right and it takes my eye out of the picture. I feel it needs someone or something taller to hold me in the picture, and also to echo that nice V shape of the sky.

Also, do look again at the guy I have arrowed. given the fact that his shoulders are below his collar, he has an awfully long neck, and small head for his frame. And a fat arm.


Finally ...only small things, but a couple of the paintings are "kissing" the heads of the passers by. Might be better to overlap.

And last of all, it might be nice to make whatever that girl is holding,(wrapped painting?) more obvious, it nicely echoes the alternate angle inthe sky shape and bounces the eye up into the pic,( as does the negative shape alongside the tall guy). Nice little directional thing going on there - right-angles in a pic like this are always helpful...my mentor, Dunstan, says that using visual right-angles is one of the oldest and most universally-used ways of strengthening the design, it has the effectof locking it together.

Hope this is helpful


04-17-2005, 05:16 AM
lol, amazing what happens when you are sleeping....... Jackie has pointed out, exactly what I was saying - the tall guy looked odd, only for the fact that every one else is so similiar ...... it would balance out nicely if there where someone a head taller on the right, perhaps the guy in the green shirt.

I have a photo from my holiday last year, which unfortunately is on my old defunct computer - its of a lovely street market in Cannes, so this scene is of great interest to me, and to watch how you handle it

Deborah Secor
04-18-2005, 01:21 AM
Thank you all soooo much!!! Jackie, I really appreciate the charts...and I see more than one of you agrees with her! Dawn was saying it from the first.

Okay, here's the latest. I still plan to do some more work on the trees, particularly where there's a halo of green mimicking the tops of the tents. I'll push the light branches behind a tent in a spot or two.


You'll notice that there is a new balding guy in where green shirt used to be. I don't know if he's any better but he might have to do! I tweaked the middle lady so she isn't falling over and covered her legs with the rectangular package--a painting, no doubt!

Do you think it would be better if I made the middle lady shorter??

Please have at it again! Your help is invaluable and I must finish this on Monday.


04-18-2005, 03:28 AM
A few more thoughts.

1. A bit drastic............but have a think about it. why not consider, instead of tucking some of the lighter leaves down behind the v shaped tents, having some OVER the tents, as if there was a tree near you and the people? It would break up some of the strong white shapes.

2. I think that the white tents in the distance need more work ... they strongly contrast with their surroundings, but I feel they need to recede a bit more so adding some shadow to one side of each, will help to reduce some of the contrasts and send them back.

Now Ihave (to quote you) noodled a bit. That girl on the right with the flying saucer on her head ;) was bothering me quite a bit, so I digitally took off her hat to give her a dark head, which give the eye the opportunity to bounce from the darker shapes in the fore UP to her head, and at the same time made her taller, to help with the visual balance.

I also made the package stronger for colour and to provide a touch of visual contrast in that area, made the woman's legs bluer, so that we really see the edge of the package. I also made her face a touch darker, which it would be, given the strength of the sun and direction.


If you are truly wedded to that tall chap on the left, I would consider dropping his t shirt far left, to make an angle to echo the package. Then, the final result should visually be doing this, kinda:


re the tall guy....try covering him up with your finger, and imagine him shorter. If it feels better, then, well-drawn tho he is, you may have to trust your instincts. But it might not feel better to you.

You are getting there! It will be great!


04-18-2005, 04:23 AM
I am really enjoying this - thanks Jackie - I am learning too!

04-18-2005, 08:20 AM
This is going to be beautiful Masterful colors!!

I am not going into much on the composition, only comments would be 2 cautions. (And I am in NO postion to offer these!!). I worry that if you bring the trees over the tents and shade the back tents that it cannot happen in reality. I know the tents are further away but I also sense they are in full sun. And I don't quite feel the row of trees can be close enough to have boughs over the tents.

Conundrum.... is that the right word?? Thankfullly, I don't have to solve it. But this is a wonderful piece.


04-18-2005, 09:21 AM
this is coming along wonderfully Dee..... love it...... I must try and get my photo off the computer and give it a go ...... lucky for me, not as many people if I recall.........
it really is coming alive

04-18-2005, 09:50 AM
This is going to be beautiful Masterful colors!!

I am not going into much on the composition, only comments would be 2 cautions. (And I am in NO postion to offer these!!). I worry that if you bring the trees over the tents and shade the back tents that it cannot happen in reality. I know the tents are further away but I also sense they are in full sun. And I don't quite feel the row of trees can be close enough to have boughs over the tents.

Conundrum.... is that the right word?? Thankfullly, I don't have to solve it. But this is a wonderful piece.


No need to worry, Johnnie, and here is why.

Look again, at Deborah's painting.
As you can see she all ready has a bough hanging over the tents, I have arrowed the woody branch. This is from an unseen tree to our left, out of picture. And that unseen tree is casting some lovely dappled shadows onto the tent surfaces. So, since this hidden tree is slightly above and behind it could have more hanging foliage, hanging a little more over the foreground, so I don't believe there is any problem with potential reality. It would be important to make sure that the "row" of trees behind the tents was less detailed, less contrasty than the overhead foliage, and slightly different for colour, then it would be clear what was happening. I can see that Deborah knows this, though, because of the warmer lighter greens she has chosen for the foliage on this bough.

As for the distant tents, a lot depends on where the sun is in the sky. Judging by the light and shadows on the people, it is to the upper right of us as we look at the scene, so I see no problems with a few shadows on the tents, provided the shadows are on the left-hand sides of the tops of the tents.

If the sun was directly overhead, the shadows on the ground would be very short, and the light would be hitting the heads and both shoulders of the people, rather than just their right shoulders. Then, the tops of those distant tents might well be white. But then, the light on the people would have to change.

If the sun was in front of us, and the scene backlit, then the distant tents would not be white at all, but in shadow, with a rim of light.

I say all this with a certain amount of confidence borne of experience, having done this kind of scene, with white tents and groups of people, in situ during a flower show one summer. I set up, and did several plein air sketches and a pastel and spent quite some time time studying the effects of the sunlight on white tents and on the people! :) These things have a way of sticking in your mind when you sit for a while painting on the spot.

I amperfectly sure Deborah will sort it all out. She always does.


04-18-2005, 12:50 PM
Jackie - as we take off on a side conversation - thanks for the explanation. That helps me understand where you were going with your comments.


Deborah Secor
04-18-2005, 02:55 PM
For you, Jackie: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Apr-2005/23609-kiss.gif I'll team paint with you any day, girl, especially when I'm so at sea!!!

What do you think of this...I believe I accepted every one of your changes, save erasing tall guy.


HOWEVER, I think this improves the whole shebang:


What do you all think??? I'm not averse to cropping if it improves things, and I'm not framing this puppy (probably ever) so it can be any size. But I'll repaint tall guy (and make him average guy) if you think it will be best. :rolleyes: <sigh>

Oh, and Johnnie, I'm so glad you asked those things. Jackie really knows her stuff and it's fun to see it applied. :D

Your help is still needed, so fire away!!!


Deborah Secor
04-18-2005, 03:06 PM
Aarrgghhh!!! Um, excuse me...but I just took this into my program and I'm darned if this doesn't look better:


So, I'm on my way back to my easel and will check in later with the new, improved, uncropped, edited version with <sigh x2> average guy in it, I hope.


04-18-2005, 03:08 PM
Hi Deborah,
Here's some 2 cent thoughts....The dark bottom left guy draws my eye to him with a strong pull. Tall guy kinda balanced out dark guy and dark blue shirt woman in the original size. Also, in the cropped version, my eye goes from dark guys right side right straight up to overall woman and I get stuck there because she looks like she's part of him.
I like the crop but for dark guy.
It's a very colorful piece and I love the treework.

OOPS, you just posted and I did as well...
I like the new version! I only see one thing...the dark guy bottom left now looks like his arm is tall guy's behind but I'm sure you'll figure this out. Tall guy looks great now!


Deborah Secor
04-18-2005, 03:12 PM
Thanks, Cindy but I think the photo is massing them far more than they are, and in a better-lit, higher quality photo I can keep them separate from one another, as there is a considerable difference. I just grabbed this shot to show you all how it looks. However, that's a good point, given what you can see here. I'll be shooting a high res image for the illustration and hopefully the printing will be good enough to show the difference. Hopefully... <sigh> but I'll look at that before I plunge in!

Insanely yours,

Deborah Secor
04-18-2005, 03:51 PM
Continuing the process, here's the new average guy version. My kid says his head is proportioned wrong. I told him the guy is a fathead! Oy...


So, disregard all above and give an opinion on THIS one, please.... I'll be making decisions on this one this afternoon but will not be sending it along until Wednesday, so please mention your nitpicks! Thank you all!!!


04-18-2005, 04:49 PM
Love it! I so wish I could paint alongside you too.

Well done with this...painting people really isn't easy, it requires a certain kind of eye for small, specific detail in the shapes to make the figures really convincing - and yet it requires a swiftness and sureness of execution if they are not to look laboured.

I do have one small worry about the girl without the hat now; from top of head to shoulders looks rather long to me ...check by getting a friend to pose for you! Or use yourself and a mirror....measure from top of head to shoulders and compare with width of shoulders. She needs a new hairdressser too...very scruffy cut, and very severe shape at the back.... :wink2:

Also have a quick look at guy in custardy shirt on right. There is a dark line where his arm meets his body. The line goes too far up the body. And the shoulder is VERY wide. Some guys do have wide shoulders, but his looks wrong somehow. Get your hubby or son to pose for you to see how shoulders look, and a shirt looks, from behind and how the sleeve falls. In your pic it looks a bit "blocky" and stylized. (...cowering behind sofa as you fling things at me....)

The overall look of this is very nice though; lots of life and activity expressed through brilliant colour. It is joyful.

And compositionally, I feel it looks much better, and hope you do too. Maybe now you feel it was worth all those deep sighs... :)

Deborah Secor
04-18-2005, 05:50 PM
<Deborah starts flinging sofa pillows, covered with pastel fingerprints, at Jackie for being so RIGHT> :D :D ROFLOL :D :D :D

I'll look at it with fresh eyes on Wednesday and see if it was worth the sighs. Right now it's making me totally crazy. It's one of those paintings that, if I wasn't on deadline I'd probably put down (and possibly never get back to...my usual MO), so the need is driving me more than the desire. Right now I'm wondering why I ever agreed--no, suggested--this myself!! At first I was thinking of a painting of a show in early morning, when the booths are open but there are only a few artists milling about tidying up things before the hoped-for crowds materialize. I should've stayed with that idea, I think. Or a nice stock photo of a show--which still might be what the editors decide on, by the way.

Does this mean I need to widen her shoulders and narrow his??? It may be only fair that they share the space. Hey--some guys have fat shoulders and some girls are tall, thin, and have no shoulders...maybe these two deserve each other. One can fit into a narrow space and the other... never mind, I need to go paint again...


04-18-2005, 05:51 PM
not that you asked for my opinion lol... but I'll give it anyway :) ...... and we all know how much opinions always differ .. this is my view on it.... I know you said to disregard the previous two, but I cant - I loved the tall guy, once you balanced him out by increasing the size of the guy on the right in the yellow shirt - it gave the whole scene more interest .... now I feel that the people are all too similiar - at the end of the day, its your painting and your decision....but, my eye now scans the scene, and finds them all similiar, and doesnt hold my eye...... but with the tall guy, I find that it holds my interest as Im scanning the scene to see what other interesting people there are within

Deborah Secor
04-18-2005, 06:00 PM
Well, Dawn, there's nothing to be done about it now! <Look out, I'm still armed with pillows!!!> :evil: I'm NOT going back!!!!! :wink2:

Fact is, I initially wanted the art booths to be the draw, not that you would actually be looking at paintings in them, but that you would want to wander down the row and poke into them with all the other people. Once I lowered that man I found myself looking at the booths more, so for me it makes more sense, or I wouldn't have done it. I believe people are drawn in, not by space, but by others' interest. It's what we called the 'cow' mentality...um, as in people are like cattle--they herd. So the crowds should help develop that desire. That, plus the fact that since the article I wrote is on doing art fairs I wanted it to look like a good show in progress!


04-18-2005, 06:17 PM
Well, Dawn, there's nothing to be done about it now! <Look out, I'm still armed with pillows!!!> :evil: I'm NOT going back!!!!! :wink2:


ha ha.... Im now ducking out :D

04-19-2005, 04:02 AM
I liked seeing into the booths too, and in fact, played around with an idea but decided it didn't work in the end, too distracting attached to edge of rectangle. Just for fun, tho, and to annoy you further (and I have barbed wire all around me) here it is:


(Jackie slaps own hand and tells herself to stop playing around on computer and GET BACK TO WORK.)

04-19-2005, 08:45 AM
Wow! This has made some terrific reading...and learning....and it is so good to watch you struggle with this wonderful painting with all those people and details. I don't mean that I want you to struggle, but I know how much trouble I have had with scenes like this so it is good to know it doesn't come that easily to you either. Hmmmm....does that sound mean? I don't mean it to....and your end result is so much better than mine. I just remember my parade painting and taking people out and putting them back and redoing them and moving them and it was a pain.
I like the last version....yeah, there are always nits here and there but overall you have solved the real issues. I do think medium guy sort of looks like it might be tallish woman but who cares!?! And the tall balding guy on the right looks like my brother! :D
But overall I don't see anything that is bothering me in this. Yes, you can always keep noodling...and noodling...and...well....you know how it goes.
And I can see that you found a super art fair photo somewhere too...good for you! It is what I keep hoping to be able to take when I am doing mine but somehow don't quite get it.
I like it!


04-19-2005, 09:47 AM
Well, pooh! My uneducated eye much preferred the earlier versions with the tall dude! There's always a guy somewhere in the crowd like that and I thought he seemed to be the most absorbed by the contents of the stalls...the whole just seemed more real and colorful and ... I dunno the word I want here...TASTY maybe? But I'm sure the later version is good too...ALL of 'em are miles better than I'll ever do, so you've still got the master's touch and must be right. Still, is it okay if I save a copy of the earlier one to my WC! Artists folder? :rolleyes: :o :wave:

Deborah Secor
04-20-2005, 02:08 PM

Here's my finished version. I've done a few little things, like shoulders and hair and changing the color of the shirt on the front guy from brown to green--that brown was too...brown. I like the coolness of it now. I have to declare it done. I may play with touches on it after this but it goes as is.

This has been an eye-opening experience. I think I'll go to a fair this summer and sit and sketch on location, just so I can see better. I know this one looks 'photograph-ish', meaning I'm sure I'd see things differently if I was there. Still, I've ended up learning things, with all the sighs and arrggghhhs.

Thanks gang.


04-20-2005, 02:28 PM
I like this a lot, Deborah! It just looks like a wonderfully exciting place to be! Festive and fun...you did a great job..."all the sighs and arrggghhhs" apparently paid off!

One little nit....my brother's hair is not that dark! :D


04-20-2005, 03:10 PM
It is great. Fascinating to watch the different steps. Perfect

04-20-2005, 08:31 PM
this has been fascinating to say the least! I have only messed with pastels so far but im amazed at what can be done with them.

I think that this came out wonderful but I have to say i am mourning the loss of tall guy. I liked tall guy. Average guy is well.. he is average. there isnt anything particularly interesting about him whereas tall guy a more interesting pit stop as your eyes moved around the painting. Even so though.. great job :) I learned alot!

04-20-2005, 08:48 PM
WOW! I love this :clap: I keep tossing around all sorts of paintings in my mind of different sorts of "crowds" but just cant find the time to try one. I have enjoyed watching you do this!

04-21-2005, 04:06 AM
Lots of gold stars flying your way, for Patience, Perseverance and Perspiration. :clap: :clap: :clap:

I know what you mean about that photographic look, but having done loadsa scenes with people in them, I can tell you with some confidence that it is all to do with familiarity with painting people in a scene. The more you do, the quicker and more impressionistic you can be, but one's early efforts are all to do with getting the figures to look RIGHT. And that means that we concentrate on one figure at a time, sorting out shapes and proportions, and inevitably, each figure gets "worked on" and ends up with uniformly "hard edges". Knitting people into a scene in a painterly way is really more difficult than it looks. When you DO get to a fair and sit and sketch, you will find that the movement of the people means that you have to use a kind of visual shorthand to describe the crowds, and that often works rather well, particularly if you can then carry it through to the painting from the sketch. then, you can concentrate on more detail with the figures/shapes which matter most, compositionally, in the scene, while the others are more suggested. Working from photos means all the figures are frozen and we can spend time studying each one...doesn't happen like that in rl.

Thinking aloud here, I am sure you know all this, but perhaps others don't.

I think this pic has lots of interest, and lively colour, love the green jacket on the guy in the fore, that had worried me but didn't want to drive you nuts. Good choice.