View Full Version : The Snake Wakes

12-07-2008, 03:51 AM

Title: The Snake Wakes
Year Created:
Medium: Acrylic
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 12x12
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

Sorry for the cheesy title lol. Anyways, here is a painting that I did today of the Snake River and Tetons. Some of you will recognize the scene from the famous Ansel Adams photograph. Unfortunately its not a great photo, there is a tad more detail in the trees below than what's visible and the clouds at the top extend for another half inch or so to balance it out a little bit more.

Any comments or critiques are great!

12-07-2008, 05:01 AM
Very impressive! I am trying to make up my mind about the horizon line...

12-07-2008, 07:31 AM
I would like to see a little more of the curve of the river (left side) through the trees.

Just a touch here and there will tell my brain that the river isnt cut in two at that place.


12-07-2008, 08:05 AM
Great suggestion! I'll change that shortly :)

@corby: Thanks! Is it too crisp or defined for you?

12-07-2008, 08:54 AM
Great scene. I stood there but it was 20 years ago. I ought to go back. The two aspects of your painting which impress me the most are the subtle treatment of the water and the line of mist at the base of Grand Teton. Anyway, here are some suggestions for improvement to this fine job:

The horizon line is noticeably tilted to the right risking that the mountains will slide off the canvas! Unless it's just a problem with how you cropped the digital image.

What's this painting about? Is it a mountain sunrise or a view of the Snake? I think it's the latter- particularly since you've done such a great job of painting the river. So why is the mountain sunrise muscling its way into the painting trying to purloin the viewer's attention. Bad Mountain! You need to soften it and make it less distinct. It should still have light on it but not all the contrasty bits between snow and rock. Correspondingly, you can throw some more color (orange) into the star of the show: the river.

Even if you don't buy the foregoing argument to have the river as a Center of Interest and feel that the painting can have two centers and accordingly be more like a photo, the mountain needs some atmospheric perspective to recede visually. You've started to capture this with what I take to be a line of mist at the base. The best way to keep that going is to blur the very sharp edge that the mountain is making with the sky. A blue glaze will also help.

The midground foliage seems a bit too military with the rust colored trees lined up in self similar heights that travel linearly. This needs to be made more natural and there are a lot of ways to get there. I'd look closely at the reference for clues.

The white rock (?) swipe shape at the middle left is compositionally odd. It's high value and pulls the eye right out of the painting. It could be dispensed with or at least considerably darkened.

It's tough to do a painting like this with acrylics as they're hard to blend. What have you got against oils? They're muuuuuch easier.

12-07-2008, 02:33 PM
The horizon line is problematical for me because on the one hand it does seem to be badly out of level...but then the glimpse of mountain beyond seems to put it in its proper balance and we are thus informed that it is a visual recession to the left if that is indicated by obliterating the hard line and letting the mountains blend with the valley floor in that direction...then like magic! The harder foreground line levels itself!


12-07-2008, 06:03 PM
Beautiful painting!

12-08-2008, 09:20 PM
Thanks for the really valuable comments! Most of the mountain sliding off problem is due to the poor photo, but it still could be improved as demonstrated with Corby's suggestion of blurring the horizon line on the left side.

About the competing subjects... I felt like the river was the weak point of the painting lol. I'm always a bit nervous about glazing with acrylics. It seems as the colors just sit in in the pits of the canvas, is that the advantage of using a glazing medium instead of just water?

I do like the idea of putting some more orange in the river. In someways I feel like it would make it too symmetric about the center of the painting then. I'll definitely try fixing up the midground along with the ridge that is too attention grabbing.

I miss oils, and am looking forward to trying them again in a week when I go home for Christmas. Right now I'm forced to paint in my poorly ventilated dorm room and I'm using acrylics so im not sleeping with the odors of the oil solvents. Also, the mishaps of spilled cups of painty water don't damage as much. :)

Thanks again for the feedback!