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View Full Version : What make you say "WOW" When you look at a painting?


tremblad
07-26-2005, 02:05 PM
This may look like a stupid question. And I know it is not an easy onw to answer. A good painting must have a lot of things in it. As a novice in painting, I feel that I could learn a lot by your answer to this question ...

What do you look for in a painting? What grab your attention? Colors? Composition? Correctness of perspective? Brushstroke?

tremblad
07-26-2005, 02:06 PM
I'll start.

For me, the "WOW" normally arrives only a few seconds after looking at a painting. My left brain is then talking. No particular reason. Just "WOW".

When I switch to my right part of the brain to analyze why it works for me (or why it doesn't work), I would say that I check the following ...

1 - Lights and shadows in respect with the apparent source of light. Are they coherent?

2 - Line perspective. Are they accurate?

3 - Relative size of objects in regard to their distance. Are they consistent?

4 - "Complexity" of colors. A white object done without a white paint is interesting. A green in which I see red and orange and blue etc is interesting to me. This is what I mean by "complexity" of colors.


Now, I know there are many others criteria to analyze a painting. Everything looks fine but the "WOW" is not au rendez-vous. I am just less familiar with them.

For instance, about all I know from the "composition rules" (rules are meant to be breaken, I know!), is to divide the canvas by three on each side and place the focal point at one of the four intersections. That doesn't talk that much to me so far. Maybe I am not at this point in my progression ...

Other exemple is "the harmony of colors" (warm vs cold, primary vs complimentary, ...) and values. I know they are a very important part of a painting but I don't know enough to evaluate.

Wayne Gaudon
07-26-2005, 02:25 PM
for me it's simply Wow, I like that. It appeals to my senses. It's the sum total of all things working togeather to make one. As for why, I don't really tend to care because different things grab me, one can be detailed, another could be gas & oil overflow from outboard engines sitting on salt water on a calm sunny day. Simplicity one day, complexity the next. It never seems to be the same. It just is beautiful to me and that makes me say, "God, that is something to hehold. Wow!"

timelady
07-26-2005, 02:34 PM
composition composition composition.

You can have strong colours, drawing, lines, etc... but if the composition lets it down it will seem awkward or unbalanced. Regardless of whether you're working abstract or representational.

Tina.

3chaway9
07-26-2005, 03:13 PM
Hi Daniel,
In my case....it's always colour which attracts me to a painting...and i must be drawn to it from a distance....as well as up close... from a distance mostly...i like so many styles i find it quite hard to explain...for instance...i don't mind about inaccurate perspective...unless it's a building...or a bridge say...but then i'm not drawn to paintings with building construction...and relative size dosen't come into it for me either unless it's a realistic image...again...not attracted...i wish i new the secret...then i'd be rich...lol...i just know what i like when i see it.

King Rundzap
07-26-2005, 03:50 PM
This may look like a stupid question. And I know it is not an easy onw to answer. A good painting must have a lot of things in it. As a novice in painting, I feel that I could learn a lot by your answer to this question ...

What do you look for in a painting? What grab your attention? Colors? Composition? Correctness of perspective? Brushstroke?

What attracts me to a painting has nothing to do with any "rules" of composition, perspective, color, modeling, etc. I couldn't care less whether any artist follows any of that stuff or not. To me, that stuff just has nothing to do with whether a painting is good/attractive, and the concern with it is sorely misplaced.

I think it's difficult for me to say what makes me go "wow", but if I had to try, it's probably some combination of the artist trying to do something unusual and doing it with conviction/passion. I know the latter is very vague, and the former is misleading, at least in isolation, because I don't think that novelty is more worthwhile on its own. It has to be the combination--something I kinda "feel" or not when I'm looking at an artwork. I can feel the artist saying, "damn the torpedoes and damn fulfilling what others expect or want me to do--this is what _I_ want to do and I'm going to do it 200%".

The "trying to do something unusual" part doesn't have to mean that it's non-realist, even though I certainly do not _look_ for realism. But a lot of realists' work, like Alma-Tadema, Jacques-Louis David, etc. makes me go "wow", for example. It's because they have that combination I mentioned above. So do many works of non-realists like Max Ernst, Mark Rothko, Matisse, Miro, Mark Ryden, and many others. (The M's were just coincidental ;-) I can be attracted like that to any style, as long as those two things I mentioned are present, I think.

gnu
07-26-2005, 03:55 PM
For me it's firstly, realism, that is convincing as mentioned in compositition, lighting and drawing/paintings skills.
The second is wanting to know how it's done, so a technique that I don't know, or an illusion of some kind.
The thing that would make me buy it though, is both the right colours and subject and a 'softness' in the painting. not always soft lines, but a non violence.

nohojo
07-26-2005, 05:14 PM
well, coming from someone who has never taken an art class (painting, drawing etc.) i don't even know wht the rules are. This is why i would love to take some kind of course and try to understasnd what some of these rules are. As far as what makes me say wow, it's very simple. If i like it i like it, i try not to sit and wonder if things are correct or if certain colours don't compliment the others. If it makes me feel good looking at it, that is good enough for me, and if i know the history of it, even better. -joey

King Rundzap
07-26-2005, 05:58 PM
well, coming from someone who has never taken an art class (painting, drawing etc.) i don't even know wht the rules are. This is why i would love to take some kind of course and try to understasnd what some of these rules are. As far as what makes me say wow, it's very simple. If i like it i like it, i try not to sit and wonder if things are correct or if certain colours don't compliment the others. If it makes me feel good looking at it, that is good enough for me, and if i know the history of it, even better. -joey

By the way, joey, I just checked out some of the work you posted to the site--like White Wedding, Simple Solution, etc. That stuff made me say "Wow!" ;-)

I'd like to see more of your work. You should get a website set up. At any rate--keep up the painting! :clap:

Freestyler
07-26-2005, 06:43 PM
It has to grab me instantly, and after the first impression I start thinking about it, and it usually comes down to the fact that I admire the technique and style of the artist. This has to be because I appreciate after many, many successes and failures, how much goes into the angst and anguish, and the delight and joy of perfecting a painting.

nohojo
07-26-2005, 07:15 PM
By the way, joey, I just checked out some of the work you posted to the site--like White Wedding, Simple Solution, etc. That stuff made me say "Wow!" ;-)

I'd like to see more of your work. You should get a website set up. At any rate--keep up the painting! :clap:
hey thanks alot, i am working on getting a website together. Not just for my stuff, but for artist in general, be kinda cool for any artist to be able to show their work. Thanks again, -joey

Einion
07-26-2005, 08:12 PM
As far as the question in the title of the thread goes it would probably come down to a combination of technical prowess and an impressive image in concert, one without the other doesn't mean much to me usually (like in some Photorealist work - technically brilliant but a bit bland).

What do you look for in a painting? Now that's pretty much impossible for me to answer because there are so many things.

What grab your attention? Colors? Composition? Correctness of perspective? Brushstroke?What grabs my attention on the other hand could be use of colour (for me particularly if it's highly realistic) and brushwork I like could certainly be another element (Frans Hals, J.S. Sargent, Frank Bramley, William Whitaker, John Howard Sanden, Michael Leonard). But composition, rarely on its own, ditto with perspective (unless the image is all about that, like an Escher).

Einion

Nitsa
07-26-2005, 08:53 PM
Emotion
........Something the artist slipped into the paint that made it "feel" different to anything else I have seen.....I like to feel I am sneeking a peek into a private diary and bathing in the emotions within.

Inspiration
........Something that inspires me in any form.

Skill
........Something I dream to have painted myself.

tremblad
07-27-2005, 01:58 PM
Thank you all for your answers. For me, those are precious. Keep posting if you find this thread interesting ...

I think my problem is that I paint (and I look at painting) too much with my head and not enough with my soul! As a beginner, I want to integrate correctly every known rules or advices. But that's impossible. First, I don't know them all and second, I don't have the experience to achieve that.

Do you mind if I quote you, King Rundzap? In another post (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3730937&postcount=8), you said the following:

If you want to think about "rules", try to tackle one small thing in each new painting. If you try to tackle too many at once, it's way too overwhelming, and you just might give up. The majority of what you learn is just going to be by painting a lot.

I think it is the best advice I can get by now ... Thank you.

King Rundzap
07-27-2005, 04:24 PM
I can't say that I'd ever mind if you wanted to quote me ;-)

I'm glad you found the advice useful.

tremblad
08-03-2005, 01:54 PM
I've found this article (http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/509/168/) here on wetcanvas, which is about what I was looking for when I started this thread. I thought to share it with you as a follow up of this thread ...

I just want to bring your attention on page 2 where Henrik says "don't overwhelm the artist by including too many suggestions or too much information". It is said from a critic point of view but I think it could apply also from a the painter point of view: "don't be overwhelmed by to much information"...

lathiel
08-05-2005, 12:56 PM
I agree with Nitsa. A wow painting is more than colour, or composition. I love realism in painting, yet I can appreciate a Kandinsky for the WOW! factor. It has to do with the passion the painter put into the picture. If you paint something that really inspires you, it finds its way onto the picture, one way or another.