View Full Version : Field study; combining photos

Donna T
05-18-2008, 11:50 AM
This is a combination of about three photos, all taken on the same day in the same area and the same time of day. I wanted to see if I could make a pleasing/believeable composition that combined the features I liked in each photo. My main goal was to get across the feeling of standing in these fields at this time of day (late afternoon) and not focus so much on the details from the photos. I tried Kim Lordier's turpenoid underpainting method and really liked it. There's so much more freedom with color choices when all you have to do is match the values that are already established. This is done on 300lb watercolor paper with white Art Spectrum primer that I toned with raw umber acrylic paint. The best part: this was my third attempt on this sheet of paper ... it takes a lot of abuse! C&C most welcome, 12x16. Thanks,


05-18-2008, 12:21 PM
I love this! Such a simple composition but with so much going on. Great colors as well and the underpainting showing thru here and there makes things pop. My only nitpick is the far hillside kind of jumps out at you with its vibrancy. Maybe tone it down just a tad?? Otherwise, just wonderful!

05-18-2008, 12:40 PM
I love this Donna.. love the comp & foilage.. all of it!!

05-18-2008, 01:08 PM
wonderful textures, love the light!

05-18-2008, 01:12 PM
I like the subtlety of the foreground, the colors of the background and the lightness and gentle gradation of the sky. A beauty :thumbsup:

05-18-2008, 01:13 PM
Very nice, Donna! The angle looking downhill and out and up makes me want to run through the plantings all the way to the last tree on the horizon to sit under the tree in the haygrass (with some wine and cheese in my backpack) to see the view over that ridge. The colors are soft and the pic combo is not evident whatsoever. Love it!
Yah, the turpenoid is quite useful as an underpainting...I use it alot!

05-18-2008, 01:15 PM
This is beautiful Donna! I love the color of the skies and the trees -- it's very rich.

05-18-2008, 05:28 PM
Good texture, interesting view, and I like the underpainting popping through too. However, I agree with Leslie. The blue hills are competing with the orange field - orange/blue compliment thing going on here.


Paula Ford
05-18-2008, 07:13 PM
Love it! Beautiful colors, great composition. I love the simplicity of this piece as well.

WC Lee
05-18-2008, 07:52 PM
very nicely done :)

Donna T
05-18-2008, 08:48 PM
Thanks so much Leslie, T, Cindy, Randy, Cindy W, Eden, Peggy, Paula and WC. It's nice to know that you all like the composition and that it doesn't look too obviously contrived. I'm finding that simple scenes are what appeal to me most - but keeping them simple is hard.

Leslie and Peggy, thanks for pointing out the problem with the blue mountain in the distance. Maybe I'll try to tone it down with some of the orange I used in the sky. That little tree in the middle is what initially caught my attention so toning down the blue might help it stand out more.

Thanks again everyone,

05-18-2008, 10:56 PM
Donna, great painting and I like the simplicity as well. Before you do anything to that hill, what about some gray blue violet? That might push it back and make the whole painting have harmony. Just a thought.

Donna Van Tuyl

Adriana Meiss
05-19-2008, 12:25 AM
Ooh Donna,
I haven't had the chance to check what's going on in WC for a while and it's great to find a painting like this right away.

This is my kind of place! Beautiful texture, beautiful greens, great composition.
The blue hill doesn't bother me. I find it bold but I think it adds to the feeling of nearness.
I'm drooling just looking at that foreground... One question though, do the rows end where the shadow area begins?
The yellow field is the only area that seems to be too even in color- I mean, no gradation.
Whatever you decide to do, take your time to think it over.

05-19-2008, 12:56 AM
:clap: This is really pretty. Like you are there, especially the trees and the greens in the trees. Thanks for telling us about your surface and posting this. Maybe just hang it where you can see it for awhile, and don't change anything until youv'e lived with it some. It is nice, you may not change a thing!

05-19-2008, 02:58 AM
I love this, because it is very simple but realistic as well. Great job.

05-19-2008, 08:13 AM
Donna, wow! It is lovely! It worked real well, and I'd recommend warming up the bottom part of the green field right below the orange. And cool it a tad where it is closer to the orange. It feels a tad steep to me, so cooling the upper part, and warming the lower part would make it a more gentle slope. IMHO, of course.

The sky is to die for! Gosh!

Donna T
05-19-2008, 11:39 AM
Thanks so much Donna, Adriana, IMaybe, Rudi and Charlie. Your comments are all so helpful and very much appreciated. I thought you might like to see one of the photos I was working with.
I really had to enhance the colors of the cornfield and I warmed up the sky too. The foreground is pretty boring so I added the soybean field from other photos. Mostly, I feel like I made progress because I painted without looking at the photos once the underpainting was done. Not 100% accurate but I hope it doesn't matter.

Donna, I like your idea about some gray blue-violet on that mountain. It looks fairly blue in the photo but I always forget that either my camera or the computer oversaturates blues.

Adriana, About those rows and where they end ... good question! In my quest to be simple and loose I might have left that area too vague. Maybe I should put a few hints of the rows in that shadowed field? The cornfield actually has brighter/warmer colors near the top and subtle violets near the bottom. I was trying to define form with color temperature changes instead of value changes but I can see that I was kind of timid with that. Some more violets and lavenders might add a little interest there.

Charlie, That green field was the hardest thing for me. I wanted to give the impression of its steepness but as you can see in the photo there wasn't much color variation. I just need to be braver and bolder and make the colors do what I need them to do. I wish you could see the sky in person, it looks kind of washed out here. I used peaches, blues and lavenders ... who do I think I am? ... a colorist? :)

Some of you are so good at using color and being expressive. I'm getting there, one baby step at a time. Part of me is afraid to let go of reality too much because people will be critical and say "that doesn't look real." But then, others may respond to my artistic license. I need to stop worrying about what other people think.

05-19-2008, 11:45 AM
Hey Donna - nicely done!!!:clap:

of course I love hearing about field studies - especially since I've been remiss and you are inspiring me.

It's a tidy composition - an approach I rarely take and yet it works very well.


05-19-2008, 11:46 AM
You know what - I have to post one more thing - LOVE THAT SKY!!!!

BARB:clap: :clap: :clap:

Donna T
05-20-2008, 07:49 AM
Thanks Barb!


05-21-2008, 03:15 AM
I would say you definitely accomplished your goal in combining elements from different areas. It may just be the computer but I would like to see the orange of the corn field cooled just a bit with a red violet, just to keep it in the distance, then a grey blue violet over the farthest range of mountains. this is truly a lovely painting with a simple but effective comp yet the emotional response to has real depth.

Donna T
05-21-2008, 08:38 AM
Thanks TJ. I see what you mean about adjusting the colors of the field and mountain. While the mountain really does take on that blue glow IRL I can see where it's a bit much for the painting. Your comment about an emotional response is appreciated - that's what I'm going for, more than a realistic interpretation.


Enid Goyers
05-22-2008, 02:34 AM
Hello Donna,
It reminds me of the area where I live and I can judge how everything must look like. I can only confirm you hit the nail right on its head! Wonderful potato plants (?), the bushes so well done. I like every little bit of it.

Deborah Secor
05-22-2008, 09:06 AM
Donna, I think that part of the reason the distant hill is so intense is because you've added so much of the orange into the sky, but not the hill. The element that causes things to look distant is the blue of the sky , and in the photo your hill is a lovely blue, but it's the sky that's doing it, so we expect there to be a closer relationship. (Having said that, since you aren't going for realism per se, you can ignore the thought! :D)

Your composition and rhythms are very strong, except for me the blue mountain and the hillside below it seem a bit too close to the same width at that one point... maybe if you tweak the color of the mountain you can reshape things just a tad. "No two intervals alike."

I think overall it's smashing! Very interesting light. I feel as if I've been there.


Donna T
05-22-2008, 10:13 AM
Vielen Dank, Enid. It's nice to know that some pieces can have a universal appeal. Hills, mountains and fields will always attract my attention wherever I live. I would never be happy living in a flat area! Those are actually soybeans but they do look very much like potato plants. I'm just glad they look like a field! :)

Thanks, Deborah, I really appreciate your comments. I have already taken previous advice and knocked back the color of the mountain some. I should have somehow incorportated the sky color from the beginning. I remembered to give the trees and fields an orangey "atmosphere bath" but totally ignored the mountain. Lesson learned! I see what you mean about the field and mountain and the similar widths but am clueless on how to fix it. Since the field has a wedge shape it's bound to match the mountain at some point. :confused: Any ideas?


Karen Margulis
05-22-2008, 05:15 PM
Donna, I love your composition. I love hills and fields too! I think you did a great job combining photos.

pastel lover
05-23-2008, 02:02 AM
Hi Donna,

Like everyone else - love this painting! I really like the technique. You mentioned your ground preparation...do you tape the 300 lb. wc paper down before you apply the primer and what do you use to apply the primer? I have use the primer on just about everything but wc paper...think I'll give it a try. Tanja

Donna T
05-23-2008, 01:55 PM
Thanks for the kind words Karen and Tanja. Tanja, I have been using masking tape on the edges of the 300lb paper but I don't think I need to. It really doesn't buckle much, more like a shallow wave if anything at all, and it could be flattened easily enough when it dries. I'm just cheap (thrifty :) ) with my art supplies and hate to waste tape if I don't need to. I've been using a regular house painting brush but have some 3" foam brushes to try. I finally figured out that I like the surface better when I dilute the Colourfix primer so it's something like buttermilk.


pastel lover
05-25-2008, 12:32 AM
Hi Donna,

Thanks so much for sharing your application procedure. I am definitely going to give this a whirl! Thanks for the tip about diluting primer to consistency of buttermilk...I think that applying it too thick may have been my main problem in the past. Thanks again.


Mary Brigid
05-28-2008, 08:16 AM
Stunning work Donna. I love all the angles in this. And the colours are so rich and warm. I just want to be there.
Mary Brigid

05-28-2008, 08:35 AM
Donna I think you have done well in working from 3 different photos and putting it all together. I love how you designed it, and the choice of colors. The blue hill in the back ground pulls me in, but still allows me to enjoy the rest of the landscape. very believeable