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Colorix
02-15-2008, 06:45 PM
Hi guys,

:( I feel like I've been thrown back in time, to about a year ago... I just can't get this painting right. I did a sketch a couple of weeks back, and thought I'd worked out the problems... Alas, no.

Is there something fairly easy to do to salvage it?
Crop?
Toss? (Recycle paper, rather.)
Mostly, I'd love to know what it is I'm missing, not getting, not doing right.

I gave up, so there are some areas in trees and foreground that need tweaking, but those are details, it is the whole thing that feels wrong to me.

Sansfix, light beige
size 15x11"

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Feb-2008/117343-Arsta_bridge_B_iz.jpg

The ref:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Feb-2008/117343-Arsta_2006_snitt_m_iz.jpg

Maybe crop? and tone down the tree on right:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Feb-2008/117343-Asta_bridge_B_crop_iz.jpg

Thanks,
Charlie

Tracy Lang
02-15-2008, 07:02 PM
Hi Charlie,

This is beautiful...gosh, I just love your colors! I did a real quickie in PS (it's fun to play with someone elses painting...kind of like working in someone elses kitchen :)) Anyway, I was thinking that the pots of flowers looked too uniform and detracted from the beauty of the water and your glorious shadows. Also lifted the tree on our left a bit. Anyway, my humble and crude PS.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Feb-2008/75377-CharliesPic.jpg

Westerngirl
02-15-2008, 07:04 PM
Don't give up on it, Charlie! It's almost there!

I love, love, love the bridge, the distant buildings, and the water. That is all just fantastic, and gives such a nice sense of depth to the painting.

I think you might prefer to tone the foreground down a bit in hue. I know that the photo shows alot of sunlight, and the camera lens really washed this area out. It might just be my monitor, but the tree and grasses, flowers, etc. tend more toward the yellow side than green on my monitor. This seems to make that area almost glow, and although I'm sure it was a very bright day, I think it would come off a bit better in shades of green instead of yellow.You can show that light hitting the foliage with a lighter, paler green with more blue in it than the current yellow. That will quiet this area down and work with the overall feel of the painting.

If you deepen the shadows in the foliage they will recede a bit and give the tree more dimension. The current shade of blue in the foliage makes it almost glow, and you really want those to recede. I'd use some real muted darks in that area.

Also, you might want to loosen up the flowers a bit, unless you want them to be the focal point. But my eye wants to go back to that beautiful water and bridge.....doesn't really want to linger on the foreground, and it is calling for attention right now. But you're the boss....you must make the decision!

I actually like the composition of the original better than the crop. Just don't give up on it, and it's sure to be even more beautiful than it is now!

AliciaS
02-15-2008, 07:18 PM
I can't be of much help on this charlie, but i just wanted to say i figured out what i love about your paintings..its the colors mainly among other things.. i love the purples and lavenders and how you make them pop with the touches of warmth!! beautiful!

Punky2
02-15-2008, 07:29 PM
Hi Charlie,

I can't be of much help either. I love the bridge, the distant building, and the sky - everything in the distance. I think it might be the foreground that's bothering you. What struck me as "off" was the angle of the shadow from the row of plants.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Feb-2008/74403-117343-Arsta_2006_snitt_m_iz_copy.jpg

I drew a line in PS along the angle of this shadow and dropped it into your painting.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Feb-2008/74403-117343-Arsta_bridge_B_iz_copy.jpg


Maybe if you shifted the angle of these shadows it might help.
I love the willow tree too and don't think you should crop it out.

seosamhin
02-15-2008, 07:33 PM
I find I like the crop because it makes the bridge the focal point but that may not be your intention. The bridge is beautifully done.
Julia

Tracer
02-15-2008, 08:30 PM
Charlie...really lovely painting!! I'm with Terry...check your angles and maybe darken up your shadows a bit to give you more contrast which will define it more. Your colors are awesome and I too love the willow in....I love trees!

water girl
02-15-2008, 08:38 PM
Charlie, I agree with Tracy. This is quite lovely, but tweaking a few distractions will make it better. The plants and their shadows in the foreground could be tones down and the size and shape of them could be varied.
You are almost there!!!

Deborah Secor
02-15-2008, 08:54 PM
Charlie, before I offer any critique tell me what your goal was, such as
"painting of bridge at sunset"
"painting of light on willow"
"painting of shadows on grass"
"painting of..................."

I often find that when I know what the original goal was, I can then see what to fix.

Deborah

annepropst
02-15-2008, 09:09 PM
What in the world is wrong? I think it is beautiful.

DAK723
02-15-2008, 09:40 PM
Can't find anything wrong either. The only thing that looks a little odd to me is the branch on the far left seems to be growing straight down, something branches don't normally do. But I doubt that this minor item is what is causing your dissatisfaction. Sorry...but I think it looks quite nice.

Don

Donna T
02-15-2008, 09:56 PM
Charlie, here's another option. I sort of think the bridge and tree are competing for attention. If you lighten the bridge and soften the edges it helps to push it back, yet still looks like a bridge. I guess it depends on what you want to "say" with this.

Donna
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Feb-2008/97763-bridge.jpg

Paula Ford
02-15-2008, 10:05 PM
This is beautiful Charlie!! I really like Donna's suggestion.

Paula

nana b
02-15-2008, 10:29 PM
Charlie, I think it is a beautiful painting! I use a lot more darks in my paintings but the beauty of yours is that they are so soft and peaceful so it's hard for me to help you. I think we have the same problem in that sometimes it's hard to tell what the center of interest is. Like Deborah said, we need to ask ourselves what we are trying to say. It's hard sometimes, isn't it? Though like watergirl said, you're almost there!

nana

birdhs
02-15-2008, 11:31 PM
I am hardly qualified to comment on the work of such an accomplished artist, but I will anyway... I just prefer people and/or animals and it just seemed such a lovely spot might have a young couple in love, picnicking on a blanket, or a student with frisbee and a jumping dog. but I liked your cropped painting. It seems that there is just too much foreground. just my opinion,,,

WC Lee
02-16-2008, 06:40 AM
lovely painting :) I also agree with Donna concerning the bridge.

Colorix
02-16-2008, 08:10 AM
Hi guys, thanks for the input, please do continue to offer advice, I'm thinking on it, pondering, musing!

And please feel free to do digital suggestions, I love them. (Yes, it is great fun to 'play' with someone else's pic!)

So far, I can say: My own thought last night was "there are too many things happening in this pic", and that translates into a reply to the question on what my aim is: seems I don't really know what I want to do with the pic.

It is a beautiful spot, right in the city, so I want to show that beauty. The bridge is important for identification of the place, and for mixing city and nature in the painting. I love willows, but find it difficult to portray 'green stuff' that are close, distant works better.

I'm also not nailing the light, it looks way more like sunset, while it is supposed to be bright warm mid-afternoon, hours before sunset.

Oh, the branch on the left is from another pic from the same place, it is hanging down almost vertically, but if it looks odd, it looks odd.

Actually, the only thing I'm happy with are the layered optical grays (made out of several pure colours) on the bridge, they shimmer, and that is the reason I don't want to use ready made grays.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Feb-2008/117343-Layered_Gray.jpg

Thanks for the input! I will write a better reply later.
More input, please.

Kathryn Wilson
02-16-2008, 08:13 AM
hmmmm ... I think there's too much to look at. I think the willow tree would be lovely on its own, without all the other trees behind it. It just looks busy to me.

I know you can do this ... just figure out what it is you want to say with this painting ... make it your own and don't be a slave to the photo.

DAK723
02-16-2008, 11:47 AM
Charlie,

It is fun to "play" with someone else's painting, so I did a little playing around with yours. To try to make it less busy, I tried to remove some of the detail. I combined shapes in the ground shadows and in the leaves. This made the tree somewhat more of a silhouette, putting the emphasis back onto the bridge. Since you wanted more of a mid-afternoon feel, I removed most of the highlighted leaves, except for the tops of leaf "clumps". I toned down the yellow in the grass slightly, too. Maybe this will give you some ideas.

Don

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Feb-2008/82335-117343-Arsta_bridge_B_iz-rev.jpg

Adriana Meiss
02-16-2008, 02:17 PM
Hi Charlie,
I see more detail on the foreground than on the background. No problem with that.
What calls my attention and makes me wonder if that is what's "off" in the picture is the shadow of the low bushes near the willow. The darks at the base of the bushes are much darker than the darks on the tree trunk. Could that be it?

Adriana

Colorix
02-18-2008, 11:23 AM
Hi again,

I think I've taken almost all the good advice I got, and combined all the digital suggestions, into my rework.

I think the initial problem was: Working on very light paper, sandy pale beige yellowy, I started too light. As usual... (Have ordered some real dark pastels, as my darks are not dark enough.)

So now I had to work the few darks I have on top of the lighter darks. I also wiped off the whole foreground, removed the bushes, and removed the tree in the center arch of the bridge. I lightened the bridge a tad, too. I guess I can't do any more with this, except start all over. There are some 'wobbles' in the bridge that will be corrected.

So, how does it seem now? Still a 'tosser'? I can let it go, no problem, tell me the truth. There is still a lack of sense of sunlight... It is boooooring....

C&C and digital alterations appreciated!

Thank you for all the advice and help!

Charlie

Reworked:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Feb-2008/117343-Bridge_Reworked_iz.jpg

dvantuyl
02-18-2008, 11:34 AM
I am really liking this and have a suggestion for you. Take a break and put it in a location where you can view it. This has a very nice feel to it. Now is the time to know when to stop. It has that kind of Elizabeth Mowry Look. I like the changes that you made from the original. Yes the more I look and type I think this is VERY nice. Great job.

DAK723
02-18-2008, 11:43 AM
Charlie,

Definitely a keeper! I like it. It has a "Monet-like" atmosphere to me. If you feel like it is boring, perhaps adding a bit more contrast in the water might punch it up, making the sun reflections in the water a bit more intense. Just a thought.

Don

Deborah Secor
02-18-2008, 07:08 PM
Oooooooooooweee. Good changes, sweetie! Now that bridge is what it's all about and the trees and shadows simply swirl. I like it a lot.

I agree--put this one away and get it out later with fresh eyes...

Deborah

Punky2
02-18-2008, 07:15 PM
The changes work very well! Don't toss this!
I think that there's a nice sense of sunlight. Maybe not afternoon light, but the original, before your changes, had a very strong sense of late afternoon/early evening light. Don't fight it.

I agree with Don: very Monet-like.

Westerngirl
02-18-2008, 09:20 PM
Oh yeah, I like this sooooo much better. Simplifying the foreground and toning down the brightness of the grass and foliage really made it work.

See, we knew you could do it! :thumbsup:

Colorix
02-19-2008, 05:40 AM
Aw, chucks, thanks guys!

Had to bow to the inevitable -- any man-made object *will* get the attention.

I'll let it sit for a while, before I do a few small corrections, and add that odd tiny spot or two of colour that finishes it. You're right, I need a rest from it, and fresher eyes.

Thanks a lot for all the help!

Charlie

PatrickHedges
02-19-2008, 06:49 AM
Charlie, looks like you had dramas with this one but I think you are a gorgeous artist. I never saw what was wrong with it in the first place :lol: but the alterations read much better to me :)

Colorix
02-19-2008, 12:08 PM
Patrick, thanks a lot. Well, I didn't see what was wrong with it from the beginning either, :-) I just *knew* there was something. Should have thought of values, as I tend to miss those.

jackiesimmonds
02-20-2008, 10:06 AM
probably a bit late in the day here................but for my money, and to my eye, was not that there is too much "going on" in the pic, it is simply that it is a kaleidoscope of colour.

I think it could help you A LOT to think about colour as a subject, all on its own.

The best Paintings imho tend to have really good COLOUR HARMONY . It is worth looking at the paintings of the old masters, to see how they kept their colour choices quite simple, and very organised. For example, to maintain colour harmony, they would manipulate the overall colour of their picture so that one of two colour themes would dominate:

1. Colour harmony by the use of analogous colour, ie, colours next to each other on the colour wheel. So, a scene could be made up of, say, blue, blue green, green, greey-yellow and finally a touch of yellow. This will absolutely guarantee colour harmony throughout the image. The first of my thumbnails below depends on analagous colour - blue, blue purple, all differfent blues and bluey-greys, with a slight shift towards blue-purple-pink - still the same side of the colour wheel.

2. Colour harmony by the use of complementary colours - one being the dominant colour, the complement being the subsidiary colour. So, for example, GREEN/RED, often used in landscape scenes - greens being the dominant colours, subtle versions of reds, pinks and browns offsetting the greens and being the subsidiary colours. The other two of my pics use Complementary Pairs - the guy sitting on the ground uses the blue/orange pair, while the flowers on the windowsill uses the same pair - but this time, the orange dominates even more. there is a tiny hint of the yellow/purple pair in that pic, but none of the third pair, red/green, that would have been just too much.

Your scene has a variety of colours in it, in fact, virtually every colour of the rainbow! The sharp yellowy-green and yellows and blues in the foreground are really competing with the soft pinks and greys of the bridge, so there is a colour argument going on, on the surface of your painting. I know people here have said how much they love your colour choices...........and we here in the UK do tend to be less adventurous with colour than you guys are in the US of A, but nevertheless, colour theory has its strengths for a very good reason, and was used continuously by masters of the past, and of today. In the little row of pics at the bottom of your posts, the second one along is a wonderful symphony of colour complements - from the blue/orange pair of the three main complementary pairs. It is the strongest of those pictures, for that very reason.

Colorix
02-20-2008, 12:05 PM
Oh, thank you so much, Jackie, I really appreciate your advice!

You talk about an area of painting I've not explored yet, but I'll start now!

If I see correctly when I look at your website, you let a few colours dominate, but still use small amounts of any colour to get colour and shapes right, is that correct? As long as analogous or complementary dominates?

I've noticed that the winter scene in my signature banner has a greater impact, and that the others look rather pink, and all over the rainbow. Thanks for explaining why and pointing me and my research in a fruitful direction!

Charlie

DAK723
02-20-2008, 09:52 PM
jackiesimmonds wrote: probably a bit late in the day here................but for my money, and to my eye, was not that there is too much "going on" in the pic, it is simply that it is a kaleidoscope of colour.

I think it could help you A LOT to think about colour as a subject, all on its own.

The best Paintings imho tend to have really good COLOUR HARMONY . It is worth looking at the paintings of the old masters, to see how they kept their colour choices quite simple, and very organised. For example, to maintain colour harmony, they would manipulate the overall colour of their picture so that one of two colour themes would dominate:

Good advice!...but not applicable as a criticism of this painting, in my opinion. The dominant colors are here (yellow/green and blue) and the secondary colors (pinks and violets) are all in harmony. What would clash in this painting would be reds and oranges and they are noticeably absent.

Just my opinion.

Don

PeggyB
02-20-2008, 10:19 PM
jackiesimmonds wrote:

Good advice!...but not applicable as a criticism of this painting, in my opinion. The dominant colors are here (yellow/green and blue) and the secondary colors (pinks and violets) are all in harmony. What would clash in this painting would be reds and oranges and they are noticeably absent.

Just my opinion.

Don

Sorry Don, but I don't understand your reasoning at all. I do however, understand what Jackie has written. First of all, there is no such color as "pink" on the color wheel. "Pink" is a tint of red, and there goes your theory on "no red in this painting". However, many people also call a tint of red-violet "pink". On my monitor, I see a more red-violet tint than I do a "pink". Red-violet and yellow green are compliments and would fall into Jackie's example of a complimentary color harmony. However, as I can see it, the primary colors in this painting are yellow-green and blue - not much blue-green, if any at all, on my monitor. Yellow-green and blue are not analogous because they don't touch one another. I think Jackie is right. This painting doesn't have color harmony as it now exists, but then that's just my opinion and what it looks like on my monitor. irl might be all together different.

Charlie thank you for allowing this great discussion on your painting. You are progressing and learning more about landscape painting every time I see a new post from you. I think Jackie is a generous person, and a good painter/teacher to learn from.

Peggy

jackiesimmonds
02-21-2008, 03:16 AM
Oh, thank you so much, Jackie, I really appreciate your advice!

You talk about an area of painting I've not explored yet, but I'll start now!

If I see correctly when I look at your website, you let a few colours dominate, but still use small amounts of any colour to get colour and shapes right, is that correct? As long as analogous or complementary dominates?

I've noticed that the winter scene in my signature banner has a greater impact, and that the others look rather pink, and all over the rainbow. Thanks for explaining why and pointing me and my research in a fruitful direction!

Charlie

You got it immediately Charlie!!!! Fab. Yes, once I began to learn about colour (and I had to, in order to write a chapter about it in one of my first books!! quite funny really - I accepted the challenge of writing a book without knowing much about this subject at all, so just HAD to do the research so that I didn't sound too much like a dork!) I found it completely fascinating. I began to look closely at the images produced by the likes of Cezanne, for example, and began to see how artists of his stature had actually manipulated colour in their works, to achieve a really good colour balance, leaning in one direction or the other as I described above. Then I looked at contemporary painters, and found much the same in the best works - I have two large books of the works of Edward Seago, for instance, and virtually every painting used either analogous colour, or complements.

Please do not use my pics as your benchmark! I am still learning! Much better to look at real masters, either old ones or contemporary ones.

As for using other colours in the painting - yes of course one can do so, but the balance has to be right. For example, Seago painted an image of a farm in Norfolk....huge sky, lots of purples and blues and greys - analogous colour. Land below...more greys, lots of neutrals to echo the sky, but on the focal point of the image, there is a little sunlit farmhouse, with bright orange-red roof, and in front of it, a tiny sweep of green ground - a really beautiful "complementary colour" bit of impact, slap bang on the focal point to draw the eye. Clever stuff.

Here are some pics to make the point, pictures speak louder than words every time. The first two go to the real extreme of analagous colour:

Albert Handel, contemporary modern master:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-Albert_Handel.jpg A wonderful example of ANALAGOUS COLOUR - all from one side of the colour wheel, touching each other. I daresay irl, the pic had loads of different subtle colours, we may not be seeing its true beauty. See how the yellows are offset with subtle more neutral colour in those tree trunks and shadows -yet he has still remained true to the analagous colour theory rule - those greys are yellow-green, and grey-green, and there are some hints of orangey-brown in there too.

Doug Dawson. Also Analgous colour - blue, blue purple, red purple, all colours which touch each other from one side of the colour wheel.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-doug_dawson.jpg

Van Gogh - complementary colour -basically blue/orange, but of course modified versions of blues and oranges. There is green in there too, but it is a subordinate colour.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-van_gogh.jpg

Handel again - using what appears to be every colour of the rainbow, complements and analagous colour all at once, some of the colour very strong, some more neutralised to balance the stronger areas
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-handel.jpg This one is really interesting. The basic complements of blue/orange and yellow/purple are in there, but loads of others colours, and neutrals, have been used too. The brilliant blues are often sitting right alongside brilliant yellows - both blue and yellow are primary colours, so they absolutely PULL the eye towards them, used at this kind of strength. The painting works because of the BALANCE of the colours he has used; it is a very colourful piece which seems to break a lot of the rules I have talked about ........but not really, because he has been so careful to spread the primary colours around the rectangle, taking the eye on a journey around the picture. He has balanced the very strong primary touches, with lots of neutralised colour elsewhere.

I hope that these pictures go some way to explaining a LITTLE of the whole business of working carefully with colour. There are some great books out there to learn from, and I am sure you will have loads of fun exploring this new area for you.
Jackie

Colorix
02-21-2008, 08:58 AM
The dominant colors are here (yellow/green and blue) and the secondary colors (pinks and violets) are all in harmony. What would clash in this painting would be reds and oranges and they are noticeably absent.

Hi Don, and Peggy. As I'm looking at the real painting (the update on page 2 in this thread), the blues of the water and sky, and deep blues in shadows, dominate, together with the green and yellow-green of grass and trees. There are small touches of peaches and ochres and pinks within the green and blue in light. Only pure-ish pink thing is the building seen through the arch, and I do want the eye to be drawn there. Trunks are mostly blue, purple, and green, with touches of brownish. The bridge is very gray, sort of coolish, and no colour dominates it, it is not even purplish. Strokes of purple are in deeper shadows.

No saturated reds and no saturated oranges.

It is interesting how we name colour. While artist know that pink is a whitened red, the colour changes so much that it has gotten a colloquial name of its own, pink. Whitened orange changes too, and is called peach, but IMHO that is a border-case. And the whole violet family has oodles of names. Yellow, green, and blue doesn't get own names when whitened, they are simply pale or light.

I'm sure I'll go on calling pink 'pink', and also to call a painterly style 'loose and free'. :-)

DAK723
02-21-2008, 09:08 AM
Sorry Don, but I don't understand your reasoning at all. I do however, understand what Jackie has written. First of all, there is no such color as "pink" on the color wheel. "Pink" is a tint of red, and there goes your theory on "no red in this painting". However, many people also call a tint of red-violet "pink". On my monitor, I see a more red-violet tint than I do a "pink". Red-violet and yellow green are compliments and would fall into Jackie's example of a complimentary color harmony. However, as I can see it, the primary colors in this painting are yellow-green and blue - not much blue-green, if any at all, on my monitor. Yellow-green and blue are not analogous because they don't touch one another.
Peggy
Peggy,

Not much reasoning - just looking and trusting my eye. You are correct, Pink was a poor choice of words, I do mean red-violet. I did say the primary colors in this painting were yellow-green and blue - I used a slash between yellow and green which must have thrown you off. I can't remember any "rules" that say the primary colors in a painting need to be analagous or complimentary. In fact there are at least 7 different color harmonies I have read about:

Analogous Harmony (simple harmony as a color family | two or three adjacent colors)
Complementary or Dyad Harmony (contrasting harmony)
Cool/Warm Color Harmony (contrasting harmony | four colors involved)
Double Complement Harmony (four-hue contrasting harmony—two adjacent color pairs)
Split Complementary Harmony (contrasting or balanced harmony—three color harmony)
Triadic Harmony (three equally-spaced colors—balanced harmony or color chord)
Tetrad Harmony (four equally-spaced colors—balanced harmony or color chord)

There is nothing wrong with using a pre-conceived color harmony strategy in a painting. Some of the examples Jackie has given in the previous post are nicely done paintings. The two analagous examples lack the energy and atmospheric vibaration that exist in a real landscape - but that is the nature of the analogous harmony. The seem rather formulaic to me, not really based on the artist's observation's, but on a pre-conceived formula. The last painting shown (Handel) is not something I personally would consider to be well done colorwise. The bright blues clash - to me. But that is the nature of art - it is very much a personal experience. Color especially, seems to evoke a very different reaction among individuals. What I think is harmonious, you may find doesn't work at all. That is why we don't all have the same painting hanging on our walls or sitting on our easels!

Don

jackiesimmonds
02-21-2008, 11:25 AM
In fact there are at least 7 different color harmonies I have read about:

Analogous Harmony (simple harmony as a color family | two or three adjacent colors)
Complementary or Dyad Harmony (contrasting harmony)
Cool/Warm Color Harmony (contrasting harmony | four colors involved)
Double Complement Harmony (four-hue contrasting harmony—two adjacent color pairs)
Split Complementary Harmony (contrasting or balanced harmony—three color harmony)
Triadic Harmony (three equally-spaced colors—balanced harmony or color chord)
Tetrad Harmony (four equally-spaced colors—balanced harmony or color chord)

Don


Don, I do not know where you found this list of so-called colour Harmonies, but boy, is the language confusing.

To my simple mind, the author has managed to make the subject unnecessarily confusing, and actually - I take issue with the language, sorry.

Colour HARMONY is, making things very simple, NOT about colour contrasts. It is about colour HARMONIES, like chords of music, not clashing, but actually each colour in the analagous scheme connected to the colour alongside it on the colour wheel.

Colour CONTRAST, on the other hand, is what we get with the use of complementary colours. There are three main pairs of complementaries - BLUE/orange, RED/green and YELLOW/purple, I have put in capitals the colours which are the primary colours. In pure form, the secondary of each primary contains no trace of its primary pair, so these pairs form extremely striking and vivid contrasts. Putting these powerful colour complements - or oppositions - into a picture can create a kind of flickering vibration. Used in equal quantities,unadulterated, in a painting, these contrasts will really tire the eye, so the use of unequal balance, together with neutralised, modified hues in the picture, becomes essential.

So when I look at your list, I do not even BEGIN to understand what on earth the author means by "contrasting harmony" - a real contradiction in terms, imho, and as a teacher, this is a term I would prefer not to use with my students. Maybe someone who wants to study colour as a subject on its own could find some use in this list, but for me -I find it FAR too complicated.

I am content to stick with two simple ideas -
1. Colour harmony
2. Colour complements.

In both cases, one can stretch the "rules" to suit oneself, and there is much to learn and explore, but I have found that starting with the basics is a damn good place to start!!!!!

As for your feeling that the analogous examples lack the energy and vibration to be found in nature, I do think that one needs to appreciate that what you are looking at is a PAINTING, which is the artist's own interpretation of a scene. It is absolutely the artist's perogative to choose how to show us the image he sees in his mind's eye. The artist is not a camera, the artist is an artist, and if a "formulaic" use of colour provides the atmosphere that the artist wishes to achieve, so be it. It may well be that the artist wanted the painting to be more about colour in art, than colour in nature.

I agree to a certain extent about the final Handel pic I showed - I too find the blues rather a shock to the eye, and do wonder if the reproduction is accurate.......but on the other hand, I rather enjoyed that shock...I find it very exciting, and very original. As you say - each to his own! The more I paint, the more I enjoy the original and unexpected, even if I find myself lacking in the courage to add such an element of surprise to my own work.

Deborah Secor
02-21-2008, 11:37 AM
A great discussion here and I've missed it till now.....! I have to tell you that I'm on a temperature binge right now, slightly askew from yet highly related to the issue of color harmony.

I know Handell's work pretty well, having spent a lot of time studying with him many years ago, and I have to tell you that I never once heard him (in that time) discuss color in terms of 'theory'--he used the lingo, naturally, but in every painting he did, as Don suggests, he looked at it as a personal expression of color, something I really appreciated.

I don't intend to "throw the baby out with the bath water", and disregard all color theory such as all the harmonies listed, but in fact I approach each painting with individual expression in mind. Often as a teacher I will see someone become overly dependent on a palette of colors (more so than just the simple reliance on preference we all exhibit), in which case I'll suggest that they hold out the pastels from three paintings in a row, not placing them back in the box. Then I have them make a chart, organizing all the colors from light to dark in rainbow order. That will show them a couple of things: 1) what VALUES are under-represented and 2) what color FAMILY is missing or scarce. Then they can tweak their palette, if they want to, by getting those colors (if they simply don't have them in their palette box), or by challenging them to enhance the use of missing color families or values.

I sometimes take a color away from them. They have to paint for two months without their lavender, or their gray-green, or their orange, whatever particular stick or sticks they over-use! It's quite fun, in reality, as we all cheer them on to use something different, and of course at the end of the class they're "given back" that color. :D

Just a thought of another way to discipline yourself and learn about color that's a bit more personal.

Jackie--on a side note, I had to laugh when I read about you doing research for your book so as not to seem uninformed! I have learned some of my best lessons under such a deadline and in the exact same fashion! :lol:

Deborah

Westerngirl
02-21-2008, 12:08 PM
I sometimes take a color away from them. They have to paint for two months without their lavender, or their gray-green, or their orange, whatever particular stick or sticks they over-use!


NO! Deborah, not you! What a meanie you are! :p :wink2:

Actually, Clive Tyler did exactly the same to me once in a class. He said I was obsessed with blue......needed to learn to use warmer colors like "normal" artists, so he took my blue away! :D It helps that we are also really good friends....so he can be brutal with me sometimes! I need that!

I just jumped in to tell everyone what a great discussion this is, and how helpful it is. Thanks to all participating, and especially thanks to Charlie for initiating this with her hard work! Continue....I'll just lurk!

PeggyB
02-21-2008, 12:43 PM
I was once told one way to think about the terms "analogous" and "complimentary" was this:
Analogous produces a painting that usually creates a feeling of quiet calm.
Complimentary paintings usually create a feeling of excitement or disquiet.
Basically, these two concepts of harmony are sufficient to create any image one wants to paint. Are there variations? Yes! However, one bias or the other needs to be present imho to produce a quality piece of art. Does "temperature" come into play too? Of course! Temperature is just the degree of intensity of color - biased warm or cool - and still analogous or complimentary in nature.

I think Jackie's examples are excellent at illustrating these concepts. For me, the first two paintings invite me to sit and relax for awhile maybe sipping a cuppa and reading a book. I like them for this quality.

Handel's last painting is very visually "active". I actually love it for the excitement presented to me there. On my monitor, the yellows have a slight orange cast that make the blues just "pop" and pull me into the background. I want to walk through that flower field and through the trees. No sitting here! This painting is active and "exciting". The colors chosen were only part of this plan - look at his composition using those colors!

I think we can all agree that it would be a very dull world indeed if everyone painting the same way and appreciated the same type of paintings. As a teacher, I think it is my responsibility to help my students learn what method they most prefer to execute. Part of that understanding needs to include an understanding of how colors work together. When they find the paintings aren't working because they don't understand enough about colors, they are happy to have some simple ways to learn color theory. Those who want more color information take my classes in color theory, and then they soar! Since painting is a multi-faceted discipline it is a good thing there are so many different people one can learn from and enjoy the journey. Not every teacher will be perfect for every student, and my feelings aren't hurt when one of mine goes to someone else who paints and teaches in a different manner.

Peggy

jackiesimmonds
02-21-2008, 02:04 PM
lovely contributions here, what a fascinating discussion this has been to date. I do hope poor Charlie isn't feeling too swamped!!!!

It IS good that we all have our own preferences and own ideas and ways of working. And our own ways of being expressive, as Deborah helpfully points out about Handel. I love Peggy's descriptions of analogous=calm v comlements=excitement - put in a beautifully articulate way too. Hmmmm- Would an all-red, or red-orange painting be calm I wonder? Colour has so many different associations, black is funereal in some countries, in other countries they use white.........so interesting, isn't it.

Anyway, let's get out there and paint the world in our own choice of colours!!! Go to it, Charlie!

DAK723
02-21-2008, 02:16 PM
Don, I do not know where you found this list of so-called colour Harmonies, but boy, is the language confusing.
I can not disagree that it is confusing. And language is always a sticking point when discussing a non-verbal subject like art. It is a list compiled by the artist Hall Groat II, and is from a post in the color mixing forum. He teaches color theory. If you like still lifes (or even if you don't), I would check out this link. I would consider his oil paintings to be among the finest in contemporary art.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=463370

One reason I posted this list of "color harmonies" - probably better termed "color schemes", was to make the point that analogous and complementary are not the only two color schemes artists have to work with.

Don

Colorix
02-21-2008, 02:49 PM
lovely contributions here, what a fascinating discussion this has been to date. I do hope poor Charlie isn't feeling too swamped!!!! (snipped)

:D Thanks Jackie, I'm sitting quiet up in an acacia tree, until the stampeding herd has thundered by and onward!

Then I'll come down and say something.

:wave:

PeggyB
02-21-2008, 03:05 PM
One reason I posted this list of "color harmonies" - probably better termed "color schemes", was to make the point that analogous and complementary are not the only two color schemes artists have to work with.

Don


Thanks for the link, Don. Mr Groat's paintings are very nice examples of what he is teaching. Simple and easy to "decode". His work is indeed very well painted in other ways too.

I had to laugh at your last paragraph. Jackie has been part of a discussion on another thread that lead to the use of words, and the understanding of others for the words we write. Punctuation is another very important part of the communication. If you haven't read Jackie's posting about the sky as subject matter over in the Pastel Talk forum, it too is quite interesting. The whole point being one's individual understanding based upon personal use depending upon where you live. Written communication can be very difficult! :eek:

Charlie I hope you are having fun watching this thundering herd pass by! :)

Peggy

DAK723
02-21-2008, 03:28 PM
I just hope I'm spelling complementary correctly!

Don

PeggyB
02-21-2008, 05:07 PM
I love Peggy's descriptions of analogous=calm v comlements=excitement - put in a beautifully articulate way too. Hmmmm- Would an all-red, or red-orange painting be calm I wonder?

As a matter of fact Jackie an all "any color" painting can be calming - since it would be monochromatic. I have many students who are not only new to pastels, but to painting in general. They may be someone who has drawn with charcoal of graphite for many years, and know about "value", but when it comes to using colors in values they are hesitent. One way to help them understand that the values of colors is no different than the values of charcoal or graphite is to have them paint a monochromatic picture from a photogray image I have of a cottonwood tree. They choose 5 values of their favorite color - or any one color of which they have 5 values. By the time they finish, they have a good understanding of how to use pastels to change values beyond those original 5 by layering, and how that application is different from the charcoal or graphite, but no longer a mystery. I've seen some really lovely all red, violet, orange, blue, etc tree landscapes! :)

An all red or red-orange painting could also be calm if you choose the cooler temperature pastel sticks in either color range. It might be fun to use a box of Unison red pastels to create 3 different paintings of the same subject since the Unisons are layed out in such a manner as to have the basic "red" in the middle row and the other two rows are one warmer and one cooler than the basic row.... hmmmm - another project! :clap:

Come to think of it - a "Complimentary" palette could also be "calm" if you used the lower saturation values and intensity compliments... there goes another "rule" :lol:

Peggy

Deborah Secor
02-21-2008, 06:56 PM
I just hope I'm spelling complementary correctly!

Don

:lol: @ Don!! Depends on whether you want to say that it is using colors opposite one another on the color wheel, or something else!

Deborah

jackiesimmonds
02-22-2008, 02:42 AM
As a matter of fact Jackie an all "any color" painting can be calming - since it would be monochromatic. I have many students who are not only new to pastels, but to painting in general. They may be someone who has drawn with charcoal of graphite for many years, and know about "value", but when it comes to using colors in values they are hesitent. :)


Peggy

Yes, I know exactly what you mean about this,the value of colours is a common problem. I once did a one day workshop on colour with Kitty Wallis, we were offered several greyscale images to work from. We had enormous fun because we were NOT allowed to use "conventional" colours - ie no blue for the sky, no green for grass. This removed the usual safety-net of expected colour. The results were wonderfully exciting, every one was different, and everyone loved the exercise. We were encouraged to photocopy our results in greyscale, to compare with the originals we had worked from. I have since used this exercise many times with my own students, with great success. It really does teach values well....it is much harder than producing a monochrome colour image, so it becomes a quite different learning experience.

Incidentally, I do agree with your final para.


ps Don - thanks for the link to Mr Groat's work. I do love still life pics, and yes, I think these are fine paintings. Finest in contemporary art? Well, I am less convinced about that, I can think of others whose work appeals to me more but then that is absolutely subjective, isn't it. He may well be a fine teacher too, I am aware that there are far more than the two colour schemes I mentioned here, but all those different colour schemes make my brain hurt, sorry......I am of the KISS school (Keep It Simple Stupid:) That great long list reminds me of the Handprint website, fascinating stuff but boy does it go on AND ON until your eyeballs begin to spin:eek: .... Nevertheless having said that, I reckon it could be fun, if you were in the mood, to experiment with that list of ideas and see what can be learned from them. It's always worthwhile to add to one's store of knowledge, in order to enrich the whole experience of painting.

If you do something regularly enough, it becomes second nature - even Mr Groat says he does not think consciously any more about his colour choices, they come naturally now. That is something worthwhile to hope for. (he also said this, which made me smile: "I'm pretty much against creative processes that are contrived". Huh??????? eyeballs spinning here again......:wink2: )

Hey Chris - you still up that tree? You better stay up there. I know I need to lose some weight, but being referred to as a thundering herd is less than COMPLEMENTARY:lol:

Deborah Secor
02-22-2008, 09:27 AM
:lol: @ Jackie, this time. We're all part of that thundering herd, so I think it's cumulative, not individual.

I'm rating this thread so that it will get into the shiny new library that our Mods are cleaning and rearranging. Lots of good information and discussion here. Thanks for letting us horn in here, Charlie!

Deborah

Colorix
02-22-2008, 12:12 PM
Hi again, wow, now I know how it feels to have a thread 'hijacked'! I participated in another such event, and the poor initial poster said something like "my god, what have I started?" Absolutely fascinating to see, and I've enjoyed it a lot, and learned a lot. Thanks guys.

For clarification, I didn't mean any one person with my 'herd' comment, so if I've offended I apologize. I meant the phenomenon.


Please do not use my pics as your benchmark! I am still learning! Much better to look at real masters, either old ones or contemporary ones.

Isn't every serious artist and master learning to the end of their lives? You're so way ahead of me that I beg to differ, I can learn a lot by looking at your paintings!


Albert Handel, contemporary modern master:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-Albert_Handel.jpg A wonderful example of ANALAGOUS COLOUR - all from one side of the colour wheel, touching each other. I daresay irl, the pic had loads of different subtle colours, we may not be seeing its true beauty. See how the yellows are offset with subtle more neutral colour in those tree trunks and shadows -yet he has still remained true to the analagous colour theory rule - those greys are yellow-green, and grey-green, and there are some hints of orangey-brown in there too.


I know he's a master, and it is very well done of course, but... I can't help thinking it is rather unexciting, like an aged and yellowed photo. He's using values in a great way in the right tree to show which branches reced and come forward!

Doug Dawson. Also Analgous colour - blue, blue purple, red purple, all colours which touch each other from one side of the colour wheel.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-doug_dawson.jpg

Way more pleasing, to me and my personal opinion and preferences. Part of it is because I think this works, the colours *would* be like that at that time of the day, and season. He may have punched them up a tad, but as there can never be too much colour... :D

Van Gogh - complementary colour -basically blue/orange, but of course modified versions of blues and oranges. There is green in there too, but it is a subordinate colour.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-van_gogh.jpg

No reds as far as I can see. Only those 'within' purple, olive-green, and orange. Holds together very well to show the light at that day and time of day. Poor guy was never recognized during his lifetime, and now we pay millions for his paintings! Those swirling clouds is where all the action is.

Handel again - using what appears to be every colour of the rainbow, complements and analagous colour all at once, some of the colour very strong, some more neutralised to balance the stronger areas
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/1805-handel.jpg This one is really interesting. (...) The painting works because of the BALANCE of the colours he has used; it is a very colourful piece which seems to break a lot of the rules I have talked about ........but not really, because he has been so careful to spread the primary colours around the rectangle, taking the eye on a journey around the picture. He has balanced the very strong primary touches, with lots of neutralised colour elsewhere.

I think I get the point, Jackie. It is very lively and gives a bright impression -- a bit brighter than it actually is. It is almost abstract. Seems to me he used the deepest blues for his deepest shadows, muted reds and greens for medium dark, and the brightest (purest, non-mixed) for the flowers and stuff. Hm, his sky is a warm pinky peach, might be a hazy day. Bottom half of the painting is rather muted and warm, with sparse flecks of brights, while the upper half is where all the action is. The calmer foreground is what makes it work, I think. Interesting how few bright spots there are, all over, and yet it gives the impression of being very bright all over. But the muted colours are clearly defineable as reddish-brown, green, peach, they're not grayed down a lot, just a bit. I rather like this painting a lot!

If all is bright, then all shouts for attention and nothing gets it. If the brights get a muted stage, they shine.

But isn't it so that many who paint with the monochromatic and analogous harmonies can stay so exclusively with the chosen colours that the painting looks more like a decoration, painted to suit a colour-scheme of, say, a particular living-room? I think that kind of paintings have made me (previously) uninterested in exploring that. What opened up my curiosity was to be 'allowed' to put in, as non-dominant, a few other specks of colour, because that makes *sense*!

Brenda (BabyBeeb) have done some wonderful studies of different colour harmonies lately, and won an award for it! That was the first spark to kindle my new interest. And now this thread!

Thanks a lot, all of you!

DAK723
02-22-2008, 01:09 PM
...If you do something regularly enough, it becomes second nature - even Mr Groat says he does not think consciously any more about his colour choices, they come naturally now. That is something worthwhile to hope for. (he also said this, which made me smile: "I'm pretty much against creative processes that are contrived". Huh??????? eyeballs spinning here again......:wink2: )

Jackie, your eyeballs may be spinning, but you have hit upon an important factor in how artist’s go about the creative process and how they choose colors, make compositions, and determine the elements of their work. CONTRIVED! While most artwork is contrived to a certain extent – meaning some thought and planning are done in preparation (and during) - as an artist, in my work, I try to do everything I can to make it look like it is not contrived. In general, this is what I like in artwork by others, as well. While I am sure I have enjoyed every kind of artwork (contrived or not) I definitely prefer a work to appear natural and not contrived. Perhaps this is where our opinions differ.

While it is obviously necessary to use our intellect, and we are constantly making decisions as we create, I would much rather look at a piece of artwork where the artist is communicating what they are feeling and what they were sensing at the time when looking upon a scene. I want to feel the sunlight, or the cold, or the wind, etc. I want a sense of realness – a sense that I am there. I am not implying that one must use realistic colors for this, or that works can not be quite loosely done. There is still plenty of room for artistic freedom. This is true for landscapes, still lifes and figurative work as well. I have been hiring models for over twenty years. The best poses are always the moments in between the real poses, when the model relaxes, stretches, pushes her hair back, etc. In other words, real gestures and movements – not contrived. I would rather see a still life that looks like something I might encounter in real life, not objects placed together for some symbolic or other significance.

In my opinion, an artist runs the risk, when approaching a work of art with a pre-conceived plan to use a specific color scheme, (or even if that plan is not pre-conceived), that their result will look contrived. I do not get the feeling, when looking at the examples of the analogous color scheme (Handel & Dawson) that I am seeing, or sensing what the artists experienced when looking at that scene. I get the feeling of looking at an exercise, or a contrived scene. I do not get the sense of realness.

Obviously, I make no claims that my approach is any better than anyone else's. I think it does point out how varied the approaches to creating and enjoying art can be.

Don

*Marina*
02-22-2008, 01:57 PM
I find this whole discussion very interesting. I don't know a lot about colour theory I have to say, but reading it all I have to admit I find it all very theoretical. I just follow my instincts (that is what my teacher is encouraging me to do as well). When I start a piece I never know how it will finish. I start it open minded and let my pastels do the rest. Colour choices I make while painting. Quite often a specific colour just does not work and you have to adjust accordingly. I feel to much thinking and analyzing might make you insecure and you achieve the opposite of what you would like to. My advice would be just follow your instincts and do what pleases your eyes. A good chance other people will like it as well.

Colorix
02-22-2008, 04:32 PM
...The best poses are always the moments in between the real poses, ... I would rather see a still life that looks like something I might encounter in real life, not objects placed together for some symbolic or other significance. ...
Don

Don, I tend to like still-lifes that look like they are "put down" on the table, rather than 'set up'. An apple balancing on a plank supported by a cone and a cylinder looks very 'set up'. The usual still-life is often carefully thought out, but when they look like the artist chose the most favourable angle to portray things more or less just sitting there, it is fine with me.

I've seen the most beautiful set-up, with gorgeous lace, both black and white, and the prettiest objects. Very contrived (using the word as a description), and utterly beautiful, so I'm not consistent in my opinion! :D

My next still-life will be stuff from the kitchen, I think. As a challenge to try to make something beautiful out of frying-pans and ladels.

Colorix
02-22-2008, 04:41 PM
And a thought on the colour harmony/contrast thing: I looked at my paintings with that thought in mind, and found that those I like most (not neccessarily the 'best' ones) usually have two dominant colours, but with plenty of other colours that take a much lesser role in the overall design. That is interesting!

Methinks that the overall design, as in colour and light/dark, is what makes or breaks a painting. Also seems like quite often it is so that KISS (Keep It Simple, Stup... don't like that, let's say "Smartie" instead) would be a good principle to follow.

jackiesimmonds
02-22-2008, 04:48 PM
So sorry if the original thread was "hijacked" but I think the discussion was interesting - and perhaps fruitful for some - anyway.

It is good that we all have our own ideas, likes and dislikes - if we didn't, we would all paint in exactly the same way and wouldn't THAT be boring.

Applebee - I agree that it is good to trust your instincts.......but sometimes, particularly when a painting is troubling you, it is helpful to be able to analyse WHY the image might not be working well. It is those moments when information of the kind we have been discussing becomes really helpful. Otherwise, you can end up fumbling around indefinitely, trying this, that and the other, and perhaps only hitting upon a solution quite by accident. This can be unbelievably frustrating - I know some artists who have been almost put off painting completely, out of sheer frustration born of lack of information, knowledge and understanding. We may never know all the answers............but the more useful information we absorb, the more we can help ourselves to sort out our own problems, and the more ability we will have to produce work which delights and satisfies us, and expresses that which we wanted to express.

Deborah Secor
02-22-2008, 04:49 PM
Charlie, I suspect you'll like this one by Handell, as i know you're a color junkie just like I am! He does somber, moody tonal paintings, and then one like this pops out:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Feb-2008/23609-Handell-art-.jpg

I feel like I could take you right to this place up in Taos.

One time I saw a painting of his that I have ever since wished I'd bought! It had the most glorious purple [sunset] sky with green throughout. It shimmered, I tell ya. Mmmmm, used that 'complementary harmony' to the max.

Just thought I'd share...

Deborah

DAK723
02-22-2008, 07:29 PM
Don, I tend to like still-lifes that look like they are "put down" on the table, rather than 'set up'.
Wonderful way of putting it!! I agree completely...and it would have taken me three or four paragraphs to say the same thing!

Don

nvcricket
02-22-2008, 11:22 PM
Just absorbing all of this. Fantastic thread. Charlie you got my 5 star vote. Need some others....to get into the cool new library!

Carol
BTW-love your painting!

jackiesimmonds
02-23-2008, 02:23 AM
I enjoyed that Handel, Deborah, for many reasons, none of them related to "being there" funnily enough:) . Mostly, I enjoyed the composition/design of the piece, and his clever use of colour. I KNOW he was not simply painting the scene as he saw it. I KNOW with every fibre of my being, that this man REALLY knows and understands about the business of painting, so much so that it now probably comes naturally. It completely underscores what I am about to say.

I find myself mulling over much of what has been said. In particular about WHY I tend to like certain pics, and have less feeling for others. About WHY Charlie began the thread in the first place.....the question "what am I doing wrong" .

We've talked about trusting instincts - which obviously did not help Charlie enough to satisfy him; about colour choices - ditto; about contrived pics versus more natural pics, about why some people (like Don) like to feel nature, feel the wind in their hair when they look at a pic, while others (like me) are more interested in the underlying hidden messages of a picture.

I'd like to put forward another suggestion, which relates to Charlie's very first "what am I doing wrong" question.

Charlie.....I wonder.......did you think at all about the underlying DESIGN (composition) of your image before you began? Or did you just like the photo, and went for it, perhaps?

Composition is one of those subjects which causes raised eyebrows, I know.

Well, I would like to quote from a REAL modern day master, who has earned his spurs by being made a ROYAL ACADEMICIAN, an accolade only given to very, very few. He said, in a small but precious book I own, that one cannot easily isolate one aspect of painting from another, each is dependant upon, and modified by, many other factors. However, the important thing he says is that IT HELPS TO KNOW ABOUT THE POSSIBILITIES, so we need to understand something about composition in order to open the door to greater variety in our approach to picture making.

Today, there has been a breakdown of the picture surface in non-figurative modern art so that compositional ideas of the past have less relevance, but figurative artists are mostly using the same language, they are all working on a 2D flat surface, and saying things on that surface about the 3D world. Whatever the aim, or style, it could be argued that every picture of this type has certain needs in common, if it is going to be stimulating, and pleasing to the eye. There are ways of composing/designing one's pictures which have evolved over the ages, and are useful to us still.

Bernard Dunstan, the artist I am quoting, recommends that we NOT take rules or principles too seriously. He feels that the composition of your pic should develop from your own involvement with the subject, from inside, rather than outside. HOWEVER, in order to be aware of the possibilities open to us, he suggests that there are various factors which help make up a picture. He talks about these main elements:

1. The linear framework (which includes division of area) and proportion
2. Tonal structure and pattern (the way areas of light and dark are arranged)
3. Shape
4. Colour, rhythms and movement
5. Repetition

This is a HUGE subject for consideration. Anyone who would like to explore this further could try finding a very nice book, written by an American contemporary painter, who de-mystifies composition/design and simplifies it with easy-to-understand language, it is called "The simple secret to better painting" by GREG ALBERT, who has advanced degrees in painting and art history.

To my eye, the photo which started this thread, does not really offer the painter a good, strong, well designed set of shapes and rhythms and directions within the rectangle and perhaps this could be part of the problem which caused this thread to be started!

I wont go into the whys and wherefores, because you have done well to read down this far.......more would possibly be several steps too far! However, if anyone wants me to, I will try.

Jackie

ps if you would like to look at a very very basic article I tried to write about composition, it really simply is a starting point, and I apologise for its inadequacy and brevity - here is a link:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/1805/333/

Deborah Secor
02-23-2008, 10:20 AM
The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to Immediately Improve Your Work with the One Rule of Composition

I found the book you mentioned and now I want to know the ONE Rule he mentions...

Your post is a treasue, Jackie. I'll do some digesting, but have to agree with you on painting from a photograph that has a strong underlying pattern of abstraction.

Um...one more thing, sweetie...Charlie is a SHE! :eek: :lol: I know she won't care!

Deborah

jackiesimmonds
02-23-2008, 11:58 AM
I found the book you mentioned and now I want to know the ONE Rule he mentions...

Your post is a treasue, Jackie. I'll do some digesting, but have to agree with you on painting from a photograph that has a strong underlying pattern of abstraction.

Um...one more thing, sweetie...Charlie is a SHE! :eek: :lol: I know she won't care!

Deborah

Deborah, do get the book, I really recommend it. His "one rule" idea is very clever and helpful. I think your students might well appreciate the content of Greg Albert's book - I know you would put it across well too.

CHARLIE I AM SO SORRY - I KNOW YOU ARE A SHE - I DONT KNOW WHAT GOT INTO ME - IT MUST BE BECAUSE I HAVE A CHARLIE FIXING SOME HOUSEHOLD PROBLEMS FOR ME RIGHT NOW AND HE IS A HE......do forgive me.....:o

Colorix
02-24-2008, 12:46 PM
Um...one more thing, sweetie...Charlie is a SHE! :eek: :lol: I know she won't care! Deborah

:D Nah, don't care. Am a Charlotte, when formal! Only time I cared was when I was a teenager attending a religious summer-camp type of thing, and they put me in the boy's dorm! :lol: They changed it quicker than a gnat blinks when they saw me!

Jackie, no need to apologize! Accepted, naturally.

But, people tend to think I'm male from the way I say things in writing. Maybe because I state opinions, rather than suggest them? Or, maybe because I'm not a native English speaker? Swedish is my language.

Colorix
02-24-2008, 01:58 PM
Hi Jackie,

Been away this past weekend, would have replied earlier if I'd been home.

I find myself mulling over much of what has been said. In particular about WHY I tend to like certain pics, and have less feeling for others. About WHY Charlie began the thread in the first place.....the question "what am I doing wrong" .

The discussion has been interesting, and I've gotten hints and advice.

Just to make my level as an artist clear: I've done some classes, of the evening type. In my country, they don't teach you much of the craft of painting, the know-how, the principles. The knowledge I've managed to gain has been through books, articles, etc. Have also taken a 7 week class on what one might call American Impressionism. (And I almost have a degree in Art History.)

So I'm of the amateur and self-taught variety. *And* I'm very serious about learning! I just can't get it here in Sweden, and am presently not in a situation where I can go elsewhere to learn.


We've talked about trusting instincts - which obviously did not help Charlie enough to satisfy him; about colour choices - ditto; about contrived pics versus more natural pics, about why some people (like Don) like to feel nature, feel the wind in their hair when they look at a pic, while others (like me) are more interested in the underlying hidden messages of a picture.

Instinct, IMnsHO (not so humble...):) only takes one so far. I believe real "instinct" is what happens when you so thoroughly *know* what you're doing that you don't have to think about it. Well, not think carefully about every step and stroke, anyhow.


Charlie.....I wonder.......did you think at all about the underlying DESIGN (composition) of your image before you began? Or did you just like the photo, and went for it, perhaps?


I liked the place, the view, fired off the camera thinking I'd paint it (the view, not the camera...). I tried to make the picture better by studying where the darks and lights were, thumbnailed value studies, etc. I added a branch to the left, thinking it'd act as a 'stopper' to the left of the bridge, and linked the shadows on the ground, removed the tarmac path (maybe I should've kept it).

After having painted it, I found that it didn't 'feel' OK. Not only colour-wise, but also compositional-wise. (I know almost nothing about composition, but am trying to learn and figure things out. I sorely need a teacher, but can't find a live one here.) The lighted part (including bridge) forms a shape much like an A (wider at base, narrower at top) that is off center to the left. That looks odd, now. Too evenly formed, too. I guess I thought it would be a u-shaped comp, initially.

I have a suspicion that the woman and the very red pram in the photo fooled me into thinking it would be a good painting. The picture is not half as pleasing to me when I put my finger over that pram. It feels empty, if that makes any sense.


Composition is one of those subjects which causes raised eyebrows, I know.

Probably because it is difficult. The books I've got simply *list* different ways of composition, "steel-yard", circular, etc. I ache to learn the how-to! How to choose a compostion. What composition works for what subject. Etc. All of it. (Got a book by Margot Schultzke "Design and Composition" with Handell in it, and another, Carl Purcell "Painting With Your Artists's Brain". The latter opened up a new world, but I just got it and read through it.)


"The simple secret to better painting" by GREG ALBERT,

Thanks!

To my eye, the photo which started this thread, does not really offer the painter a good, strong, well designed set of shapes and rhythms and directions within the rectangle and perhaps this could be part of the problem which caused this thread to be started!

Methinks you're absolutely right.


I wont go into the whys and wherefores, .......more would possibly be several steps too far! However, if anyone wants me to, I will try.


Oh, please, would you, could you? I'd be much obliged. I'd *really* would love that, if you have the time and inclination! I'm sure I'm not the only one who would appreciate such instruction. That would be exactly what I asked for when starting this thread. I learned early on that if I want to learn, I'd better accept and ask for substantial critique that teaches me how to do better. I will ask questions if I don't understand, which is not the same as questioning. And I may not refrain from offering an opinion.:)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/1805/333/

Thanks for the link, will go there now!

Thank you.

jackiesimmonds
02-25-2008, 03:03 AM
Well, this will be pretty inadequate, I am afraid; it is one thing to talk about composition in general terms; quite another to try to work a good comp out of a photo which does not, to my eye, offer that many good possibilities.

What would I have done IF FORCED to work from this photo? Here are a couple of suggestions. Both need plenty of further work, to be honest, playing around with colour and tone as well as the simple cropping of the photo. at the end of the day I would, I think, have chosen a different view, and hopefully I will be able to explain why.

First here is an analysis of some of the linear forces within your final piece. You will see that there are diagonals, horizontals AND verticals, and none of the dominate, they all seem to have equal priority - if anything, those diagonals, to my eye, command the most attention:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Feb-2008/1805-117343-Arsta_bridge_B_izDIRECTIONS.jpg

I wonder if that was what you really wanted?

At this point, one needs to ask oneself what you want to show the viewer, and therefore what the PICTURE SURFACE needs to do this job in the best way. For example if you decide you really want to use the bridge, it is what took your eye in the first place, but you also like the overhanging willow, then you need to find a way to make them work together within the rectangle, without landing up with 50% bridge and 50% tree! Tricky!

Here is one option:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Feb-2008/1805-crop_2.jpg

Now we have a HORIZONTAL format picture, which helps to echo the horizontal shape of the bridge. The willow needs some careful handling however, if you dont want a 50/50 pic, and I am not convinced that the path will help much, it creates a diagonal shape in the bottom right of the pic. Notice I have removed the lady and the pram - more about that in a mo.

So here is a bit of fiddling, and an explanation of my thought processes:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Feb-2008/1805-crop_3_with_corrections.jpg

I have made some subtle corrections here.
1. No path.....eliminates the problem of a diagonal at the bottom right.
2. Extension of the soft foliage at the bottom of the image, so that the green grass and the shadows on the grass, have a horizontal bias.
3. I have "grown" the tree a little, and extended its reach out across the rectangle. I have repeated some of the curving branches, to emphasise this growth, and these curves also echo the curving forms within the bridge, so you get a lyrical (one hopes) feeling of curves across the rectangle.
4. I felt that where the bridge met the left hand side of the rectangle, it formed a harsh edge, so I have "grown" the tree there which softens the top edge of the bridge, and painted carefully, could act to hold the eye inside the rectangle and prevent any shooting off stage left!

The tree's trunk forms a good strong vertical, which holds the eye in on the right, and it echoes the vertical elements of the bridge.

Here is a rough of the "look" of the picture, without being influenced so much by the detail:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Feb-2008/1805-crop_3_with_faithful_chalk.jpg

At this moment, I would begin to think a bit more about the colour. Is there perhaps some way to link the colour of the bridge with the colour of the "land" elements? I am sure there is, perhaps in the foliage or the shadows. I would do a small thumbnail at this point, to see if I was beginning to feel good about it all........

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Feb-2008/1805-crop_3_with_faithful_chalk_and_colour.jpg

this is VERY crude, but I think you get the idea of how I tried to repeat touches of colour right across the rectangle. The principle is what is important rather than the execution! I am not digitally that clever, I am afraid!

So now we have a picture which has strong HORIZONTAL elements, echoed by the overall horizontal format. The bridge and the willow link together in subtle ways. There are other geometric elements - verticals - but they are subordinate to the horizontals. Nevertheless they are helpful as verticals are always stabilizing forces. the curves are organic, they soften the scene and subtly echo the horizontal elements, doing a similar job of travelling ACROSS the rectangle.

Of course, you may not like any of this. It may in fact have been much more the lady and the buggy that attracted you..........

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Feb-2008/1805-crop_1.jpg

I hope these thoughts have been helpful in some small way. They may not. I would have had huge difficulties, personally, with this bridge, which looks, from the photo, rather man-made-concrete and not particularly appealikng. I have absolutely no doubt that a master like Handel would have done something super with it tho.

All I have tried to do here is show some "design thinking" which MIGHT have resulted in a slightly stronger image.

I believe you tried to do much the same, judging by what you have said, and I think you did a really good job with the sky and bridge in terms of colour, but the fact that those lovely pink/purple/blue colours did not link well with the acid yellow/green landscape AND all those strong geometric elements were not helping you and were arguing with each other, left you feeling dissatisfied.

Having stuck my head over the parapet, I daresay I am likely now to be shot down by a better artist than I.............that'll serve me right, won't it!

Colorix
02-25-2008, 09:48 AM
Jackie, thank you a lot! I really appreciate it, especially interesting is the conclusion that the photo wasn't interesting enough to start with, as it confirms my suspicion (and we all love confirmation, don't we? :-D ). I'm waiting for Wetcanvas to deign to show the images too, there is obviously some trouble with the site right now, there are pictures missing all over the forums. I'll look carefully, and reply carefully too, when I can see the visuals.

Thanks a lot.

Charlie

jackiesimmonds
02-25-2008, 12:13 PM
how odd , they work for me.

Deborah Secor
02-25-2008, 12:48 PM
Not showing up here, yet. I can't see any paintings on the page or the paintings in anyone's siggie line, either, except yours , Jackie. Odd indeed. Must be a glitch in the system...I hope soon rectified.

Deborah

Yep, checked the WC Site Discussions and found this:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=480129

jackiesimmonds
02-25-2008, 04:18 PM
wuldnt ya knw it - took me ages to write that post with all the images!
Chris, let me know your email addy - you can send it to me via a pm, and I will copy and paste into an email reply, so at least you can see what I was banging on about!

Deborah Secor
02-25-2008, 05:11 PM
Hold short, Jackie! The images are showing now. It just takes a bit of patience and time for the poor techie who is no doubt pulling out hair by now to get it all in working order... :eek:

Deborah

jackiesimmonds
02-26-2008, 02:34 AM
I have nothing but admiration for computer techies. I so wish I was as brilliant,

well done people!:thumbsup:

Colorix
02-26-2008, 02:48 PM
Bingo! Images are back!!!

Jackie, very generous of you to show the process of how you change a photo and plan for a painting. I have a couple (or 5-6) questions below.

Please, allow me to repeat what I understand of your very clear and fine explanation, but in my words. Just to check I 'got' what you've written and demonstrated:

Too many different vectors pulls it apart. Diagonals are perceived as dynamic, and are thus eye-catching. No, not what I wanted, to be honest, I have too little knowledge and experience to know what I want and how to acheive it. This painting was basically the first where I tried to consciously apply some things I've read about. :o

I need to choose what I want to show in the painting, and find out how to change things to acheive the aim. There ought to be unequal proportions of everything.

For a horizontal object, you suggest a horizontal format, so the form is echoed.

Question: Would you choose a vertical format for trees, or a 'taller' horizontal format? (Probably depends on what else is in the pic, eh?)

Question: When you repeat and echo the arch-forms with boughs, do you echo with a row of arches, or do you use 'scattered' arch forms here and there in tree? Or both?

The left edge of the bridge gets a 'stopper'/'eye-turner' in the form of an extended tree. I considered it in the original, but thought it too tiny. I see that with the closer crop, it works beautifully.

Design-wise, you've zoomed in on the elements that attracted my interest, the bridge and the willow and leaning tree, but you let the bridge dominate, by contrasts, and the horizontal format, and by cutting off the crown of the tree.

Then you consciously find places to echo colours. Purpose is to tie the picture together colourwise, as it has been connected shape-wise previously.

Question: Are colour-echoes to be thought of as spots of colour, or colour notes, within for example foliage or shadows? Or do you find areas like objects and shapes for these echoes?

Question: Do you do it the other way around too, that is, link the colours of foliage or water into the bridge colours too? Or would you do that only if the trees were the main subject?

Question, the last: Would you keep the darkest darks in the tree? As the contrast there would be lower than between the lighter bridge and sky?

Hm. The crop with the lady and the red pram looks very busy, with criss-crossing diagonals. That crop does not convey the tranquility of her resting a moment on her walk with her baby. Even I (at my present level of lack of knowledge) wouldn't try to paint that crop! The lady would feel like she suffers post-natal stress!

Very interesting lession, Jackie. Wonderfully clear and well explained. You've certainly helped me realize that there is a whole big area to explore. Using my pic and painting, which I've already worked on, really helps my understanding way more than someone else's painting. Thank you so much for taking the time and doing the effort!

And you guys, who follow this thread, do join in!

DAK723
02-26-2008, 08:52 PM
In some ways this thread seems a bit unfair. We are dissecting this painting as if it was full of errors. First discussion centered on color harmony. In my mind, whether there were any problems with color harmony at all were debatable. Now the focus has switched to composition, as if that is where the problems lay all along. There are some of us, myself included, that found that this was a fine painting –one that could be improved (few paintings couldn’t) – but a fine painting, nonetheless, without any obvious problems. Since there were no obvious problems, in my opinion, all efforts to find ways to improve it will be very subjective.

In terms of composition, these are the things I look for when critiquing (in no particular order).

Balance – This painting has no balance problems to my eye. No “eye catching” elements (very strong color, strong value contrasts) or distribution of large masses that pulls to one side. The subject (bridge) on one side is balanced by the large mass of the willow on the other.

Unity – Colors, values are all well distributed. The light and atmosphere are consistent throughout.

Variety in shapes, sizes, intervals – While you do want repetition in your composition, you don’t want equally sized masses, or equal intervals (let’s say between one ridge of mountains and the next ridge), or to divide your picture into equal areas (equal amounts of land and sky, for example). No problems here, although I think the original version with the bushes on the shoreline, made a slightly better composition, as the bushes, to a certain degree, were a repetition of the arches of the bridge.

Eye leading out of the frame – Charlie has made a good compositional adjustment by adding the tree on the far left edge to prevent this. There are no strong elements too close to the edge of the painting, which can also lead the eye out.

Subject in a “good spot” and well defined – The subject, more often than not should be at a spot that is in the vicinity of the rule of thirds. The bridge is in a perfect spot. Whether the subject is well defined, I think, is the only real issue that has been a part of this painting from its inception. The changes Charlie made improved things. Contrast was reduced in the area of the Willow and foreground shadows, placing more emphasis on the bridge. However, there are difficulties with this type of composition, where the subject is somewhat in the distance, and quite a few foreground elements exist.

One school of thought says that to place the emphasis on your subject, one should lead the eye there by placing the lightest lights and/or the darkest darks there, or by placing the strongest colors there. This can often be difficult since the rules of atmospheric perspective dictate that a distant object (the bridge, in this case) needs to have less contrast or less intense colors than object closer to the viewer. So the artist has to find some methods – in some cases bending the rules of atmospheric perspective - to allow the emphasis to be placed on the subject.

I went searching for some examples of how Monet handles foreground greenery and mid-distance subject. Here are some examples.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2008/82335-mon005.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2008/82335-mon004.jpg

My observations...foreground values are kept close (not much contrast), especially in the 2nd example, where they are almost a silhouette. The 1st has some value contrast in the tree and bushes, but most of the foreground is kept subdued. The darkest darks are in the foreground separating it from the midground, but the lightest lights (with the exception of the sky in #2) are in the midground, drawing my eye there.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2008/82335-mon001.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2008/82335-mon002.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2008/82335-mon003.jpg

Three examples of the same scene. The first, the silhouette of the foreground to unify the mass and direct our attention elsewhere. The 2nd and 3rd, more value contrast in the foreground and therefore more competition between the tree and village for our attention. Once again, the darkest darks in the foreground, lights are used in the midground to attract the eye.

How does this relate to Charlie's question that began this post? Perhaps the only thing "wrong" is that the bridge needed to be in the sunshine to make her painting work better!

Hopefully, these examples might be a help to someone when working on a similar composition. It is always helpful, in my opinion, to study the paintings of those who have been there before us.

Don

jackiesimmonds
02-27-2008, 08:18 AM
In some ways this thread seems a bit unfair. We are dissecting this painting as if it was full of errors.
Don

I have to disagree here Don, we are dissecting the painting BECAUSE WE WERE ASKED TO DO SO, not because it is full of errors. BIG, BIG distinction. Nothing unfair at all about trying to help someone who is not happy with what they have produced and is unable to work out why. Giving them some possible reasons - which they are free to accept or reject - is simply food for thought.

Unfortunately I sadly do not have the time to read your post as thoroughly as it obviously deserves, because I must give priority to Charlie's post, but I am sure that what you have said will add something worthwhile to the discussion.

However, I feel it is very important to say this. I believe it is useful to try be helpful when answering a question and saying that there is nothing obviously wrong with a picture is not, to my mind anyway, particularly helpful, when the artist concerned feels that there IS something wrong and has a strong sense of dissatisfaction, and asks for help. I've made this bold for a reason.........it would be quite different if the artist simply put up a pic for a crit, without a word as to their current state of mind about it. Then, the critiqu-er can only comment on what they see, and what they perceive to be good, or less than good...in their humble opinion. In that kind of situation, it would clearly be fine to say "I see no problems with this picture".

Yes, to a certain extent, any kind of "helpful suggestions" could be deemed to be subjective........but actually, saying that the painting looks fine to you, is also subjective - and not particularly constructive.

jackiesimmonds
02-27-2008, 08:50 AM
ANSWERED WITHIN THE QUOTE, FOR CLARITY!
Bingo! Images are back!!!

Jackie, very generous of you to show the process of how you change a photo and plan for a painting. I have a couple (or 5-6) questions below.

Please, allow me to repeat what I understand of your very clear and fine explanation, but in my words. Just to check I 'got' what you've written and demonstrated:

Too many different vectors pulls it apart. Diagonals are perceived as dynamic, yes, in general termsand are thus eye-catching.Absolutely right. No, not what I wanted, to be honest, I have too little knowledge and experience to know what I want and how to acheive it. This painting was basically the first where I tried to consciously apply some things I've read about. :o

I need to choose what I want to show in the painting, and find out how to change things to acheive the aim.that is what I always try to do, I think it is a worthwhile objective There ought to be unequal proportions of everything.Yes, Greg Albert believes that is a good rule of thumb!

For a horizontal object, you suggest a horizontal format, so the form is echoed.Not a firm demand, this, but can be helpful, if you look at the work of the Masters, you will find they often conform to this as an idea. It "underscores" the importance of horizontals as a theme, to use a horizontal format.

Question: Would you choose a vertical format for trees, or a 'taller' horizontal format? (Probably depends on what else is in the pic, eh?)certainly, it completely depends on what else is in the picture, how "important" the trees are in relation to everything else - what shape or shapes they form. A stand of pines, for instance, which are wonderfully tall, would look great in a vertical format image.....but other kinds of trees might work well, as Don shows, in different shapes of rectangle. It is dangerous to fall into the trap of "OK it's a tree pic so I had better make it vertical. Trust your instincts, and also study what the Masters have done, to reinforce your store of knowledge and provide you with ideas and options.

Question: When you repeat and echo the arch-forms with boughs, do you echo with a row of arches, or do you use 'scattered' arch forms here and there in tree? Or both?I personally would be conscious of the curving forms of the arches, and would use similar shapes of scattered arch forms here and there - just little notes of echoing shape. If you have, say, 4 arches, and you deliberately put in 4 curved tree branches exactly the same shape, it might well look far too contrived...just use your instincts and common sense. A good artist to look at, to begin to spot echoing shapes within the rectangle, is Degas. See how the shape of, for example, an A-shaped ballet skirt is echoed by the V shape of an arm or similar bend in the body or shape between the legs.

The left edge of the bridge gets a 'stopper'/'eye-turner' in the form of an extended tree. I considered it in the original, but thought it too tiny. I see that with the closer crop, it works beautifully.I "grew" it a bit, which is why it starts to work properly. It was a personal choice (subjective) but for an objective reason!:evil:

Design-wise, you've zoomed in on the elements that attracted my interest, the bridge and the willow and leaning tree, but you let the bridge dominate, by contrasts, and the horizontal format, and by cutting off the crown of the tree.mmmm- well, I had a suspicion that perhaps you were most interested in that bridge. So I shifted the edges of the rectangle around until it felt "right". Again, subjective, but for an objective reason

Then you consciously find places to echo colours.Absolutely rightPurpose is to tie the picture together colourwise, as it has been connected shape-wise previously.Spot on. (Forgive the pun......:)

Question: Are colour-echoes to be thought of as spots of colour, or colour notes, within for example foliage or shadows? Or do you find areas like objects and shapes for these echoes?Either, or both, will work tho I tend to do the former- I have noticed that Master painters tend to ensure that the colour is "echoed" within the painting. Isolated spots or areas of objects of colour, different from all other colours within the image, tend to draw the eye...which you may not want....while echoing colours seems to act like a chorus refrain. John Constable, in his landscape pics, would have a worker with a bright red hat, then other touches of bright red elsewhere within small objects - these acted almost like little punctuation marks, our eye would jump from one to the other. Other artists will repeat colours throughout in a much more subtle way - pinks and blues in the sky for instance will appear again in shadows, in foliage, all over the pic in different places but not as obviously as those touches of red in a Constable.

Question: Do you do it the other way around too, that is, link the colours of foliage or water into the bridge colours too? Or would you do that only if the trees were the main subject?It is up to the artist really.......I sometimes "wing it", and see if I like it that way....It may not work to echo all the colours all over the place, you could end up with an amorphous mass with no obvious place for the eye to stop and enjoy a colour surprise.

Question, the last: Would you keep the darkest darks in the tree? As the contrast there would be lower than between the lighter bridge and sky?I would do a value sketch, to see what works best to me and provides me with a composition which pleases me. I like to use either soft pencil or charcoal for that. I find it helpful as a starting point. I dont always treat my value sketch as if it were set in stone however. Sometimes, when I get going with colour, my ideas change. I constantly check the image from a distance, through my legs, backwards through a mirror, from outside the door ...anything to try to see the damn picture with fresh eyes:wink2:

Hm. The crop with the lady and the red pram looks very busy, with criss-crossing diagonals. That crop does not convey the tranquility of her resting a moment on her walk with her baby. Even I (at my present level of lack of knowledge) wouldn't try to paint that crop! The lady would feel like she suffers post-natal stress!:lol:

Very interesting lession, Jackie. Wonderfully clear and well explained. You've certainly helped me realize that there is a whole big area to explore. Using my pic and painting, which I've already worked on, really helps my understanding way more than someone else's painting. Thank you so much for taking the time and doing the effort!Always a pleasure to try to help. As I suspected tho, I DID put my head above the parapet, only to find someone shooting at it......but perhaps if you feel that what I have offered you is helpful, then it was worth it, aaargh, she said, clutching bullet hole in neck and staggering backwards.........:wink2:

And you guys, who follow this thread, do join in!

Kathryn Wilson
02-27-2008, 09:07 AM
Well, it's obvious we have differing opinions on this topic ... and I am hoping that Charlie is taking some ideas from each of you and going forward with her painting ...

I'll be here as referee in the meantime :thumbsup:

dvantuyl
02-27-2008, 10:07 AM
I agree with Don and it was a stroke of genius to include the paintings by Monet. Charlie, do you see the similarities with your painting and Monet? I do and think you are doing wonderfully.

Here is a quote from Edgar Payne, "Some writers on art set forth rather rigid rules to guide study and practice. Others go so far as to designate artistic procedure as the science of paintings. On the other hand, many say that rules should be absolutely taboo. Again it has been stated that rules are devised for slaves. Thus we have opposing beliefs and the intention here is not to condemn any of these but to show extremes of thought. Somewhere between these contradicting views a basis for constructive ideas may be found."

Then he says, "In many activities outside of creative work, definite rules and formulas may be set up and followed to the letter of the law. In the case of useful arts and mechanical professions, absolute adherence to strict laws and methods are essential to success. Here, one has to do as others in the same line have done. Not so in creatve art. No one can apply the same rules directly to the painting of each picture without lessening artistic quality." emphasis mine.:)

Shari
02-27-2008, 10:48 AM
This is a fantastic thread; thank you Jackie for taking the time to share with us. I have learned so much. Deborah, that one rule from Greg Albert's book, and I quote from Amazon.com:

Albert's how-to reduces compositional guides to one "master rule": never make any two intervals--of distance, length, spacing, and dimensions of shapes, or the value intervals on a value scale and colors on the color wheel--the same.

I look forward to reading more - again, a big thanks to Jackie and everyone who contributes so much here.

Colorix
02-27-2008, 11:07 AM
Jackie, thanks a lot for all your time and effort in explaining and answering my questions. It all seems so clear to me when I read and watch, but when I try to apply it, I find similarities and lines and forms all over the place. I guess it is the same with this as with most things, practice makes perfect sense. Will practice.

Your article on composition in the archive: The Degas, there seemed to me to be a dominance of v-shapes all over, and more gentle curves in skirts.

Thanks a lot,
Charlie

Colorix
02-27-2008, 12:15 PM
Hi Don, love the Monet paintings! Am playing with them below in this post.

To be fair, I did ask Jackie to comment on how she would have approached the photo. It became totally another painting (Jackie's), but at that point I felt we'd left the correction mode and gone into teaching/learning mode.

Admittedly, I'm still a bit unclear on if it is mainly a colour-issue, or a composition issue, as the emphasis did hop from one to the other. I'm not happy with my own colours although they do seem to be basically analogous (maybe that is why I'm not happy with them!), and I know too little about composition. I suspect that I've not 'wrestled' the issue of greens, and need to work out how to do good and believable greens, especially in foregrounds. The landscape in Sweden is so sharply and clearly divided into green and blue, with very little variety (in clear sky/sunlight conditions). I don't find that awfully exciting, to be honest.

Both colour schemes and composition is also subjected to individual preferences, that is one thing that is very clear if one looks at different schools of artists. We all have to choose what 'trend' to follow. Or, be eclectic and pick and choose what works, which is what I tend to do. Not follow one master, not follow one idea, but access the wealth of many inputs.

Quoting Don in a big chunk, with my comments in red:

Balance – This painting has no balance problems to my eye. No “eye catching” elements (very strong color, strong value contrasts) or distribution of large masses that pulls to one side. The subject (bridge) on one side is balanced by the large mass of the willow on the other.

As the bridge is very sturdy and solid (railway bridge, granite and concrete), I was hoping things would work similarly to how you described it.

Unity – Colors, values are all well distributed. The light and atmosphere are consistent throughout.

I tried, but I missed something with the colour. I didn't get the effect of bright light I was trying to get. The underpainting for the sky, water, and grass in light are all of different proportions of pinks and yellows, with both in all.

Variety in shapes, sizes, intervals – .... , although I think the original version with the bushes on the shoreline, made a slightly better composition, as the bushes, to a certain degree, were a repetition of the arches of the bridge.

Didn't even think about that... :o I removed the bushes, as they put emphasis on the foreground, and as I felt they stopped the eye from 'jumping' over them and look into the distance. And they'd gotten too even and dense...

Eye leading out of the frame – Charlie has made a good compositional adjustment by adding the tree on the far left edge to prevent this. There are no strong elements too close to the edge of the painting, which can also lead the eye out.

There was also the choice of letting the distand trees by the end of the bridge grow up over the bridge. I was afraid it wouldn't be enough, too small. But looking at Monet's pics, I see he has a disjoined small 'tuft' of tree-foliage acting as stopper in the tree paintings from the same location!

Subject in a “good spot” and well defined – The subject, more often than not should be at a spot that is in the vicinity of the rule of thirds. The bridge is in a perfect spot. Whether the subject is well defined, I think, is the only real issue that has been a part of this painting from its inception. The changes Charlie made improved things. Contrast was reduced in the area of the Willow and foreground shadows, placing more emphasis on the bridge. However, there are difficulties with this type of composition, where the subject is somewhat in the distance, and quite a few foreground elements exist.

Eloquent description of the trouble i run into. I did carefully place the bridge, though. :) Monet's paintings below have the lit town/village in the distance, but I feel that even if there would have been only nature in those spots, his paintings would have been wonderful, as the foregrounds and trees are well developed, impressionistically, naturally. Does the village work as a discovery, after the impact of the foreground?

You also suggest the bridge could be in sunlight to make the painting work better. It is a thought that crossed my mind too. That would give a greater contrast to the arches, as there would be a shadow side (inside) to them. I may try that.



I took the Monets, played with them a bit. I looked for lines of action/vectors, and repetitions, arches, and stuff. I find that whatever I was looking for, I found...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon005_play.JPG

The foreground has small spots of really dark darks that creates the sensation of strong light, but as you said, generally low contrast. The strokes of the most uniform area, the sky, are vertical, pointing down towards what is more interesting. (And of course, what points down, also points up, but the context says 'down'.) There are few diagonals, and they are minor and weak.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon004_play.JPG

I found a lot of diagonals in this one! Even the strokes of the sky are diagonal. The frontmost v-shape is subordinate, though. Cloudier day, not so strong light.

The triplets are interesting to compare, but it is dinner time. See you later.

Thank you, Don, this is fun!

jackiesimmonds
02-27-2008, 12:43 PM
Well, it's obvious we have differing opinions on this topic ... and I am hoping that Charlie is taking some ideas from each of you and going forward with her painting ...

I'll be here as referee in the meantime :thumbsup:

Yes, everyone has different ideas and opinions, and that is how it should be. Charlie should certainly come to her own conclusions, having considered everything that everyone offers.

Just one small point I would like to make, because it seems to me that there is a bit of attacking going on here - you do say above that you feel the need to be a referee - very telling.

Everyone has their own ideas, and own bits of knowledge and experience to offer to others. What becomes difficult and uncomfortable is when people try to shoot others down, instead of simply putting their own thoughts and ideas onto the table .

Or perhaps I should make this more subjective and say "when people try to shoot me down, directly, or subtly as in the post from Duvantyl" (which is how it feels to me). Actually, I absolutely do NOT want, or need to respond in my own defence; I apologise in fact for so doing above, and will not do so again. I only came along to help Charlie, not to prove myself to anyone else in any way. My ideas are just that... ideas (tho they are not mine alone, I have learned what I use, from both old and modern Masters), and if Charlie has found anything helpful, that's great. I will now bow out. No need for referees then.

Onwards and upwards, Charlie, you are a brilliant student, absorbing everything like a sponge, while at the same time questioning and thinking carefully. You can only get better and better.

Jackie

Deborah Secor
02-27-2008, 12:45 PM
This is a fantastic thread; thank you Jackie for taking the time to share with us. I have learned so much. Deborah, that one rule from Greg Albert's book, and I quote from Amazon.com:

Albert's how-to reduces compositional guides to one "master rule": never make any two intervals--of distance, length, spacing, and dimensions of shapes, or the value intervals on a value scale and colors on the color wheel--the same.

I look forward to reading more - again, a big thanks to Jackie and everyone who contributes so much here.

Thanks for quoting this for me, Shari! He said a mouthful in one little sentence, didn't he? It's sort of an 'only everything matters' kind of deal... :rolleyes: But good advice, nonetheless.

Deborah

Colorix
02-27-2008, 06:06 PM
Hi Donna, thanks, I love Monet, he's my artist-hero! His paintings are incredible, especially when seen IRL! I got to see some of his Norwegian winter paintings a couple of years ago, at an exhibition at our National Museum (fine arts, not modern). There were two paintings of the same mountain, from the same spot. One was in sunlight, the other an overcast day. I came into the hall through a door, and the sunlight painting positively glowed! Incredible effect, especially next to the cloudy one.

I aim for the same kind of excellence, and I'm sure I'll get there if I live to be 300 years old... (giggle) Seriously, I would have loved to learn from him.

Colorix
02-27-2008, 06:34 PM
Hi, want to finish the playing with Monet!

The gorgeous triplets. It is so interesting to see what he made of the different times of day, and different conditions.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon001_play.JPG

As I said before, I have no clue about what I'm doing, I'm just looking for hidden or obvious lines, straight or curved. Here there is that little tuft of foliage to the left that acts like a stopper where the hills run out of the frame. I also noticed that the foliage in the clump next to it (from the main tree/bush) has three foliage fingers pointing down at the village. The lacy tree has a myriad of sky-holes, gorgeous.

The foreground is basically silhouetted, together with the tree, here I marked the dark darks (filling in the skyholes):
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon001_dark.JPG

The darks really dominate, and make the rest of the pic very light.

The next:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon002_play.JPG

Light is coming from the other direction entirely, compared to the first. Interestingly enough, the pattern of the lines is a bit different too. OK, he does show more of the top of the tree, but still.

And the darks and lightest lights:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon002_dark.JPG

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon002_light.JPG

A totally different pattern, or arrangement of shapes of light and dark than the first one, while all the structural elements are the same.

And the third, (if I can upload so many pics in one post):
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon003_play.JPG

Yet another pattern of lines, ...

...and of forms:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Feb-2008/117343-82335-mon003_light_and_dark.JPG

I'm inconsistent, I know, I combined the lightest lights and darkest darks in this one.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I'm experimenting, and know not what I do. The relevance in this thread is that it is a landscape somewhat similar to mine (well chosen, Don, thank you), with foreground with trees, a body of water, and something across the water.

One thing that pops out is a little diagonal in the lower right corner.

See y'all tomorrow, it is shut-eye time for me.

Charlie

Colorix
02-27-2008, 06:41 PM
Onwards and upwards, Charlie, you are a brilliant student, absorbing everything like a sponge, while at the same time questioning and thinking carefully. You can only get better and better.


Aw, thank you, Jackie. I'm dead serious about learning, and grateful for the sharing. This was my 20th or so landscape, maybe the tenth (15th?) in pastel, so I've not done many of them. I tend to like still-lifes, but want to broaden my horizons, as it were. :D