View Full Version : Oh, the Suffering

04-01-2008, 03:22 PM

Title: Oh, the Suffering
Year Created: 2008
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 12x24
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

It's often said that as one learns to paint, portraits are hard because small mistakes are immediate evident (not the case when painting a tree)

Smallish figures are even worse as one can screw up not just the face but hands, feet, arms, posture, proportions. Sheesh!

So in a masochistic mood, I tried the attached composition taken from a photo I took some years back in the streets of New Orleans. It's an oil, 12x24 and I don't really consider it finished but I more or less ground to a halt. I don't think it's terrible but it's certainly not a good painting. It was made a little more difficult because I bought a cheap canvas and was fighting the weave as I sought to lay in details. I should have added sanded gesso, methinks.

I showed it to a local eminent artist friend to get a critique. He said, "well, Bob, the problem here is that your painting sucks."

I'll be grateful for any more nuanced advice. How do you paint figures?

04-01-2008, 04:05 PM
How do you paint figures?

One figure is difficult, but as you add figures, the difficulty increases with an order of magnitude for each figure added, since you now have to deal with relationships among them.
To your friend's comment I'd add:

But you can have a pretty good painting if you go back and:

Choose one unifying color and let that be the dominant color in the background, with varied values.

Use that color in your dark values on the figures to get them more rounded and to get some unity of time and place among them.
Lose a lot of the edges. For example, the edges of that man on my extreme right should be rounding into that beer sign.
Darken your darks to clarify the light flow. The light seems to be coming from either directly above or from my upper left. The shadow of the hat of that fella on the extreme right should be much darker and more defined to indicate the direction more clearly. His newspaper should have a lot more variety in value than it does. The guy with the white socks should have more variety in those values.

At 12X24 you have enough room to get some nice features going.

This painting has a lot of potential. I'd suggest you go back and do more with it.

04-01-2008, 05:14 PM
It doesnt suck so bad.
Just do what Bill said.

04-01-2008, 06:56 PM
Bob it has a cool vibe to it. In addition to what has been said...the guy in the orange shirt left arm almost morphs with the wall behind him due to the similar hues of both unless you concentrate on it. The guy in the green's right hand looks a but larger than it should be. His right leg unless it is a prosthetic looks off compared to his left. The right foot and both of the girls look like they are floating too. Last thing the sidewalk specially behind the girl angles toward the street at a steep angle that is a bit much. That is wall to street not left to right.

Happy painting as Lenore says,

04-01-2008, 08:39 PM
great colors, what a rainbow

04-01-2008, 10:10 PM
I agree with Bill and Sergio, that guy in green needs the proportions of his arms and legs to match. Looks like the guy in orange is missing his left shoulder. I do like the colors you used on the people and they are interesting to look at as I think you did a good job on the faces. I really don't get the title. Could you explain? Keep having fun..........Lenore

04-01-2008, 11:50 PM
Explanation of title:

I suffered making this painting. Threw brushes against the wall; kicked the dog; drank turpenoid; tore up my Dick Blick catalalog; held my breath; burned my beret.

And you thought Job had a tough time.

04-02-2008, 12:08 AM
tg you just crack me up, I thought you were implying those people in your painting were suffering. I was going to tell them to get a job. They all look healthy but not to physically fit. Thank you for sharing. I wouldn't have the nerve to post my early paintings, there so bad. Keep having fun...Lenore

04-02-2008, 02:30 AM
i feel your pain


and repeatedly

then either get a smaller brush

or a bigger one


It's often said that as one learns to paint, portraits are hard because small mistakes are immediate evident (not the case when painting a tree)

04-03-2008, 01:30 PM
I wish I could say this is an early painting. It's all too late. But I intend to triumph over my enemies and you'll see the postings.