View Full Version : Persephone

07-17-2005, 09:17 AM
Hi all,

lately I had nearly no time for painting (due to daytime-job), but yesterday i managed to paint a scene that has been lurking in my mind for quite a while.

If someone knows a bit about the old greeks and their storys...
It is Persephone standing at the gate to the "Summerland" (Hades). Below her feet are the waters of the river Styx. She is inviting the souls in.

Still having some trouble getting rid of that childrens book style. The figure looks very stiff to me. Might be because (as always) i did it complete out of my imagination. Maybe i should use Poser first to see how i can loosen up the pose. I lost lots of the detail in the face and dress due to my camera which is a mess, at least i managed to get the colors quite right.

I tend to be very harsh to myself (beating myself up is my favorite waste of time :D ), so if anyone please could find some kind things to say about the painting ;) I also would appreciate any critique and comments very much. (I really want to get rid of my funny comic-style :( )

Thank you in advance

Bright Blessings


07-17-2005, 11:01 AM
Hi Morgana
It is a very good painting and there is nothing wrong with your style:clap: . Some stronger shading in the face and reflections in the water may help. Sometimes it is better to use shading to suggest something rather then draw it in with lines. You certainly don't need to beat yourself up about your painting, it is good as it stands. Very few artists are ever totally happy with their work.

Lady Carol
07-17-2005, 11:12 AM
I don't think there is anything wrong with your style either, except that it is a style that does not match the way you want to paint (whatever way that is). You have a couple of options such as practising until you get the effect you are looking for or just accepting that this is your style and living with it. As I said there is nothing wrong with it at all. The brightness between the arch is effective and it adds another dimension to the piece.

My only crit is the woman's left arm. She carries it the way my husband carries his and he had a stroke. It is somewhat an abnormal angle. If she is relaxed through the arm it should hang further down. Just a few thoughts...:)

07-17-2005, 11:29 AM
Thank you D.G.K.King for you encouraging words. I try hard to use shades to form the things i want to show, but my camera steals them away. I have to try and find another way to take the photos, actually the face is much more detailed in original.

Lady Carol, thank you so much for you comment and crit. The way she is holding her left arm is something i observed i am doing myself. I did not have a stroke but i find myself holding the hand i do not use quite the same way like the figure in the painting does. If i realize i drop the arm but i keep finding myself holding my arm that way. It happens mostly when i concentrate on something very hard. But you are right - to others it may look strange.

I will go on practising, maybe one day i can do paintings comic-style AND a more realistic style too. *smile*

Thanks again



07-17-2005, 02:15 PM
Your doing very well Morgana....we all have to learn....it's an on going process....every couple of weeks i'm going to throw the towel in....then get drawn back into the creative mode....HAPPY PAINTING.

07-17-2005, 05:16 PM
Morgana, your style is fine. but remember, every thing we do in life is a journey, and every journey has a begining and an end. (or at least a destination) and The best part of the artistic journey is the effort spent getting there (That's what practice is all about) Don't give up or let your frustation get you down. Keep painting. keep practicing. Keep posting.


Charlie's Mum
07-17-2005, 05:27 PM
Hi Morgana - your style is bordering on fantasy and there's nothing wrong with that -
If you really want to develop your painting along somewhat different lines, work from life (you say you nearly always work from imagination).
Take any object, group of objects, areas of the house or garden and spend time looking and observing. the same with people, look and observe (discreetly of course!).
The more you look, the more you will understand and begin to note the relationships between objects around you ........... your imagination will then draw on your experience.
Drawing and painting from life really is the best way to improve :D

I like the blue in the water - tho' even the Styx would reflect the surrounding colours.
Is it night? - looks moonlit ...... but would Summerland be better described with more summery colours? - is it supposed to be 'tempting' the souls?
Just some thoughts - but you do handle your paint nicely :D

07-17-2005, 10:04 PM
Hello: I like the feeling of fantasy in your style, but it seems there is much more light on the lady's face than on the rest of her body, and what about some more reflection in the water. I hint of a cloud accross the moon. Just a thought. A good job. Jan

07-18-2005, 06:17 AM
Thank you all for cheering me up. You are great!

thank you for making me feel i am not alone with the feeling of throwing the towel in....

Thank you! You are right, i should focus on the travel, not on the goal. Hard to do if you are "blessed" with a capricorn - ascendent :D

@Charlie's Mum
Thanks for your thoughts and kind words.

Reflections seem to be the hardest thing for me. I managed to paint the reflection of the boat but forgot about the godess and the arch :mad:
The intention was to show it is night OUTSIDE the arch, and a bright summerday INSIDE the arch. It is a bit better in Original but not really strong enough a difference to be seen on the poor photos my camera makes.
And it is not supposed to be tempting souls to come in, but it is simply the place the old greeks believed the souls would go if they leave our reality. (and which I believe myself too).

You are surely right about drawing/painting from life. If only i could. I can not bring myself to paint some vases or bottles (what a boring subject to me... *sigh*) and painting my son or hubby from live.... great godess... it would be the reason for a major family row. They would not sit still and i would get highly frustrated. I tried once....i would have to glue them to their seats and put the head in a vice to make them sit still *grin*. Guess i have to use poser-scenes as models.

Though i walk around looking very close at everything i see when going for a walk, because i want to know how things really look like. I can draw fairly realistic by now due to lots and lots of practise, but painting is another thing... I am in for another hugh amount of practise :D

Thank you for your thoughts!
As she is an underworld godess i imagine Persephones skin as rather pale and milky. That might be the reason why the face seems to look more lit. Don't know how i could have a pale face and a dark blue dress without that effect... so much to learn....
Next time i do a night scene i will think of adding some clouds across the moon. Must make a nice atmosphere, very good idea!

Wayne Gaudon
07-18-2005, 08:58 AM
Don't worry about style. Style is what happens as a result of learning and working. Along the way we find things that work for us and we keep to them and turn aside from things that don't. You need to learn from life before you can apply your imagination and takes considerable time. It's not what we say but how we say it that makes the painting look one way or the other. At a quick glance your biggest trouble is value. If you can get the values right, all else will fall in place. The painterly approach is a good place to begin because all else is built upon your initial block in. If you had to reduce your image to 3 values how would you do it? What would it look it?
Get a value chart, make a value chart, play with values. Lots of little value studies and I promise you, you will see a big difference in your art as you begin to hone that one skill. Don't get caught up on the overly complicated stuff, work with 3 values, then 5. If you can say something in 3 to 5 it will be a very solid piece of work. There is a lot to learn (I am talking all artist and aspiring artists such as myself), but I think values are the foundation and if you don't get them right all else is built on shifting sands.

I like that you want to tell your story but instead of taking it from your mind, use models. Get a doll, build an arch, etc. Make a project out of it. Think of building your little scene with props, putting it in a shadow box for strong light and shadow effects, and then working from your setup. You will find it very entertaining and rewarding.

Example: I drew a dozen apples from photos but until I drew one from life I could not paint an appple because I didn't know the apple; I only knew the circular shape. :D

Stay with it, you have a story to tell and it can only be told by you.

07-18-2005, 10:22 AM
Hi Wayne,

thank you so much for you long comment. I immediatly went looking up what was meant with "Value" as i am not a native speaker, english words are (as far as art is concerned) sometimes confusing for me. But i think i get what you meant to say! It is about contrast, lighter and darker color of the same hue. I will do a search here on WetCanvas! to find me more information about that topic. I fully understand that with pencil-drawings (at least i know what i should do *grin* really dark darks and really light lights create contrast and interest... now getting it right is not all that easy though. *smile*). Transforming that knowledge to paint and color is another pair of shoes, but i will work on that.

I'm afraid i have no such thing like a initial block in of colors :angel: I work from back to front and from top to bottom and complete what ever i work on before moving on to the next plane. While working on a painting large areas are still white (or black) until i get there and cover it with paint. I am blocking in nothing, not even sketching it out before i start mostly (Only lately i use a few strokes of whitish medium on my black canvas, to give a rough idea of what goes where on the painting.) I can see everything very clearly in my mind. Like a scene i can look at as often as i wish. I am even able to rotate the scene in my mind to see it from another angle, practised that for some other reason than painting, but now it is very helpful for me. That is why i never use a sketch or initial block in. I simple had no need for it to remind me what i was supposed to do *smile*

Okay, i will for the future try to keep my eyes more on the issue of value. Never thought about that much. I learned about the colorwheel in school and remember very well about that.

:D Guess i only bought paints and started putting it down, never thinking about theory or other boring stuff. Now i see, i have to learn some theory... *sigh* But okay... i will...

Thanks again


Wayne Gaudon
07-18-2005, 11:50 AM
Unfortunately, it's a necessity .. one doesn't need to get over zealous about it but without it, it's like a house with no foundation.
Example: Value will dictate your light. It's easy to see and apple and think red but in reality there is so much more. A change in value denotes a change in plane and a change in plane is a change in color (in some way).
As per your painting: On your arch you have the light underneath the arch but the moon is high and behind so that would mean the top would have some mooonlight but the back and bottom would be dark (very dark because back light creates silouttes). If the value is right, the rest will take care of itself. IE .. your values would force you to put the dark where the dark should be and the light where the light should be. I am talking general here but hopefully you can see the nature of the study that will lead you down new avenues of exploration.
Not to cast doubt on your power of observation within your mind, but I know that I can see things in my mind and entertain them. However, that said, a lot of it is just a figment of my imagination and that does not necessarily base them on reality? You don't have to paint realistic but the basics of anthing that will be recognized by the general public will be reality based. Picasso said he never made a painting that was not reality based and his paintings are far from what one would call a realistic (photo type) representation, but they do have spirit and one can't deny him his place in art.

Later, and have fun above all else.

07-18-2005, 12:04 PM
Hi Wayne,

thanks for the quick answer.
I would just explain about the arch. I surely know that the light from the moon would hit the arch from above and highlight the top. But in this case i wanted to depict the glowing light emerging from both the godess and the summerland much stronger than the dim moonlight from above. That is why the arch is lit most on the inside, a bit on the top and darker on the bottom outside.

If you observe the mountains outside the gate they are lit on the sides the moonlight would hit them. but inside the gate the sun is shinning from left and lighting the mountains on their left side and on top. A pity my camera takes so poor photos... *sigh*

But i agree... i realize i have to learn an awful lot about theory.

Thank you for you time and efford explaining me everything



Wayne Gaudon
07-18-2005, 12:28 PM
yes, but how do you make the viewer understand all that when they don't have the inner workings of your mind? :D

anyway, I don't want to appear as if I'm talking down because I am only learning myself and one day I find this works and the next day it doesn't. Have fun.

07-18-2005, 12:45 PM
That is a good question! :D
Maybe i should show my art only to witches and pagans? :D Might be that it is more likely that their mind ticks the same way mine does! :angel:

I did not think you where talking something down. I find it very refreshing to discuss this with you. It brought me some insights i would not find otherwise.
You were of great help for me.



Charlie's Mum
07-18-2005, 12:53 PM
Hi again Morgan,
First let me say how excellent your English is! You write better English than many who have it as a first language :clap: :clap:
Secondly, do you understand the words 'tone' and 'tonal values' any better? - we use these words in England to desribe what Wayne refers to as values ....confusing eh? And yes, it does mean the degree of light and dark in a painting - irrespective of colour.

Here's a link to a Classroom thread from a couple of months ago
about underpainting and tonal values (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=268085&highlight=underpainting) which might help you to understand!

I'm sorry you find theory so uninteresting - really, it's all about learning as much as posssible about your subject/interest. :D
As Wayne emphasised also, drawing from life is really the only way to understand properly, and it honestly doesn't matter what you draw, the purpose is learning and understanding :)

So, for instance, you need an arch with roses? Look in the garden, friends' gardens and find one.
You need to see how light affects an object, place a light on an object of choice and move it around - up, down, side, above ....... you get the picture ;)
Study reflections in a similar way.
Please don't shut your mind to ordinary everyday things - they can all figure in your fantasy paintings somewhere!

Here endeth the lesson !!!!!!!! :wink2: :D

07-18-2005, 01:27 PM
Hello Charlie's Mum,

thank you for your advise. It means a lot to me.

I find the theory not really uninteresting, it is only i am terrible impatient. :D
I read a lot about drawing (which i could not do to save my life) because i found i had to learn drawing first before i could move on with my paintings. I read a lot about the figure and portrait beforehand and received some great advice in the drawing-forum. But mostly i like to experiment and try and find out and paint and find out. But I agree, i am at a point where i can not ignore the theory any longer *smile*

*sigh* I understand the importance of being capable of painting different things, and therefore the need to paint different things..... but coffee pots are soooooo boring *smile* maybe i have to find me some unusual objects that attract my interest....

Thank you for the link you gave me.... i will read everything carefully



07-19-2005, 11:53 PM
There's nothing wrong with working from reference photos or even other paintings - even the old masters would refer to some pre-existing portrait when some king or duke couldn't be available to pose, or to borrow themes, etc.

You are certainly ready, skill-wise, to work from real life sources - like photos from the reference library here, and to find artists whose style reaches you, that you want to emulate or borrow from - and study their work.

Theory doesn't have to be boring.

07-19-2005, 11:56 PM
something I forgot before -

there are threads here where people all work from the same reference photo - and they appear to be extremely powerful learning experiences for people.

I've been more of a lurker than contributer, but I've seen several people make significant growth in their technique, and in finding a personal style, while participating in those "everyone paint from the same photo" exercises.

07-20-2005, 05:24 AM
Hi WRoget,

Thank you for you encouragement. I always felt it would be like cheating if i "borrow" from other artists work. Maybe i tried to invent the wheel once again. Maybe you are right and I do not need to find it out all by myself and could learn something by making some copy of paintings i like (just for practise of course) and to find out how it can be done?

Will have to think on all that further. Only yesterday I decided (when done with the one on my easel) i would try and paint a small setup of gemstones and maybe a chalise on a cloth. Just to give "painting from live" a try. I also reread the classroom about underpainting which gave me some more ideas to try.

My daytime-job keeps me quite busy so i do not think i can participate in those threads. I would never be able to finish on time, because of my job which pops in at the unusual times and keeps me from painting for days sometime. But i will be a lurker there and try to paint on my own to see what i can learn from them.

Thank you again

Bright Blessings


07-20-2005, 11:52 AM
Dear Lady,

FWIW, I like your painting. I agree with the previous comments about shading in the face. If you can't get rid of your "comic book" style of painting people, then go to work drawing or inking comic books and embrase what you're good at. I don't do people at all because my people turn out horrible. If you're wanting to improve your paintings of people, have you tried taking a portrait class? if you feel you would embarrass yourself in public by taking a portrait class, then you only have a few options. 1) draw people, draw some more, and keep drawing until you get it right. 2) buy a book and follow the exercises, and keep practicing until you get it right.

I don't like to draw, I like color. But I do find more and more authors that say, "the better you draw, the better your paintings will turn out." So, I do practice drawing. You're forced to shade things to get a tree to turn out better than a stick figure, and the shading with a pencil is great practice. When I do get to paint, I find my practice with a pencil carries over to my paintings, and I can see an improvement.

Painting from one's imagination is HARD. I like to plein aire paint, because I can see the subject and change it to suit me. I was driving down a country road recently and saw a scene that grabbed my attention. I wanted to stop and paint so bad, but didn't have the time. I did my best to capture that scene in my mind in the few seconds I had before I turned the corner up ahead. I've gotten most of it on canvas, and I'm pleased with the way it has turned out so far. What I'm lacking and need are the little details that I can't imagine very well. The corn growing on one side, the soy beans on the other side of the road, and little details on the barn. So, I'm forced to find similar things near my house and then use those details to finish my painting. You obviously have a much better imagination than I do. You have lots of details in your painting. I'm impressed!

Don't give up on painting people, practice makes perfect!