View Full Version : blah painting needs help....

08-03-2005, 10:46 AM
I painted this the other day and am not satisfied at all with it. I didn't bother to finish it so this is beyond the point I lost interest. Last night I considered just completey painting over it and starting over from scratch but thought I would use this as a learning experience and put it on here for some suggestions.

I feel like this has no direction or strong enough focus. I wanted a kind of daydream-y, peaceful feel to it but it looks blah. I thought of putting in a house or barn etc. but the S curve does not lead the children in that direction. I did like the S curve. This is roughly taken from my own home and my neighbors. I like that tree and curve. I enjoy watching my Amish neighbors walking up and down the lane and I wanted to capture the sweetness and innocence I see in them.

Okay, any suggestions would be appreciated.

08-03-2005, 11:06 AM

The composition of your painting is pretty balanced, but what I think is most noticeable is the lack of tonal depth. More specifically, if you squint your eyes and look at the painting, it's mostly one shade, and doesn't have distinct light and dark areas. I think you can still achieve a happy, daydreamy quality while at the same time adding some darkness to the shadowy areas, such as the tree and grass shadows that are already present, and under the three figures in the foreground who currently do not have shadows (but should). There is some diverse shading among the leaves of the tree, but it looks as if you've mostly mixed white and black paint with the one shade of green to achieve this effect--you'd be better off mixing in browns and yellows, as well, so make the treetop look more authentic and richer. Likewise, the trunk and branches of the tree are one flat color of brown and could use more shading and shadows.

Consider in this painting where the source of light is in relation to all the figures. The lightest area of the sky seems to be in the center of the horizon (which can detract from the drama of the painting); if it is, make sure the light affects everything in the painting from that point of view. That is, the tree shadow would be stretching more toward the foreground at approximately five o'clock position, and the shadows from the people would stretch toward six and seven o'clock, respectively. As they are, they seem to be apparitions, not grounded because they lack shadows. With the tree shadow's current position, it seems that the sun's position is coming from the left side, in which case the horizon would probably not be so much lighter right in the center; conversely, the entire horizon--all the way across the page--would probably be lighter than the rest of the sky, as colors fade and become lighter as they become farther away.

The idea of the painting is sweet, though, and it suits the subject, if they are Amish; it has a very folk art appeal. The winding road conjures the Yellow Brick Road, and I can only imagine the three travelers are about to encounter a cowardly lion on their way to the Emerald City in the distance. :-)

Lady Carol
08-03-2005, 11:11 AM
It is cute and has a lot of potential.

There are a number of issues I see here: firstly the tree really dominates and I am wondering if you want the tree as a supporting role or have the figures support the tree....? Also if you look at the grey scale
much of the colours are in the mid range. There is also a lack of detail in the foreground to emphasize that this is closer to the viewer. Additional interest could be added with more vegetation and shadows across the path.

Just a few thoughts for you to ponder.

08-05-2005, 01:00 PM
I agree about the tonal comments. You are also missing shadows for the figures, so that they float on the composition. I think if you added something to connect the figures to the tree, like a bench just before the bend in the road, you might cause it to pop a bit more. It is a nice composition, it just needs more focus, and a story to cause the viewer to be curious about what is happening here.

08-05-2005, 02:51 PM
HI! Good so far, nice start. I agree with needing tonal depth in the sky and land. With Depth you probably won't need to add a barn or whatever.... Maybe more foliage along the path and shadows/highlights. GOOD LUCK...Hope to see what you decide to do!!!! :)

08-05-2005, 03:37 PM
Basically, the blah aspect that you are seeing is the overall temparature of the image. You should consider punching it up glazes of warmer and cooler tones/hues.

This can also be used to control the viewers' eyes. Warm tones will tend to bring that part of image forward, cool tones will make the area recede.

The image so far has a good composition. You've intuitively used line to control your viewers. Now you need to consider the other ways of visual queues, like as I mentioned earlier...colour temperature.

Colour temperature isn't just the general spectrum that dictates "yellow" is warm and bloue is "cool." Consider that lemon yellow is a "cooler" yellow than mustard yellow. So, there is temperature difference within the range of yellows! :)

I hope this helps. Avoid scrapping an image too soon. Let it sit and move onto something else for now and revisit it in a couple of weeks....sometimes...months.

That practice will also cause you to keep several works going on in your studio.

08-05-2005, 10:57 PM
Thank you all for your suggestions.

I have a 13 yr old daughter who asked me if she could paint so I asked if she'd like to finish this painting that I started.

This is what she's done so far. She had lots of fun and it wasn't as intimidating for her to start a painting all on her own from the beginning so it worked out well for both of us! :)

I appreciate your help. I'll try to keep those in mind when I paint the next one.

08-06-2005, 02:48 AM
She has a good eye, or you gave her some good suggestions. The painting has real life to it now, and it has gained movement, has depth and vibrancy. Well done both of you.

08-06-2005, 03:45 AM
I liked it before, and like it better now. I think it is great that you and your daughter worked together on it..although, I am a little disappointed that we didn't get to see how you would have worked through it.
You do some really AMAZING work and I appreciate your being here in this forum! My most recent favorite is:the man with a walking stick...and a wonderful story behind him ...VERY NICE! You've been wanting to do some of the amish children in your area...so give it another go...PLEASE... I think you'll do terrific!!!!! (ps, the little guy you refered to once in my avatar is my son...A HAND FULL! ha) Tell your daughter that she did a great job for me! Krysta