View Full Version : Heart's Content

12-19-2008, 12:35 AM

Title: Heart's Content
Year Created:
Medium: Acrylic
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 20X24
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This is only my eighth acrylic, not including a few rough sketches/experiments. I am normally an oil artist adn usually with a knife, so this kind of plodding-type of work strips my gears, but I am shocked to see waht I can do with acrylics.

Is this complete? Please note, the colours are somewhat washed out by the Picasa fix. The original pic was too dark.

12-19-2008, 08:55 AM
Fine composition, great brush work. Here are a couple of suggestions:

It looks like you've got something like late afternoon light on the scene. So then why is the sky gradiant getting nearly black at the top? There is such a thing as artistic license but I do think a more natural gradiant would be better.

The two diagonal forms to the left constituting the far parts of the cliff/hills need more work. They shouldn't each be done in just one color.

It looks like you've got a shadow across a strip of the foreground rock. From where? It looks too linear to come from a cloud. I'd let all the rocks be in sun.

thomas w
12-19-2008, 08:57 AM
The lighthouse itself looks great, the shading is well done. But the rest of it seems a bit flat.
Thomas W

12-19-2008, 11:22 AM
Thanks tg, the shadow on the rock is actually an area of stained rock from alge, but obviously it didn't show well enough. I am having difficulty showing real detail.

I also guess my sky was too dramatic. Thanks for your input. I have a lot of trouble with painting sharp lines in acrylics, any suggestions?

Hey Tom, thanks for taking the time to look at the pic. Do you mean the whole rest of the painting is flat or just the cliffs?

12-19-2008, 11:18 PM
Love the Lighthouse!!!!!!!!!!!! Hope you dont mind but I have done a bit of tweaking - see image below - cos I think its just the values that really are missing in this one. Did you get so excited about having done the perfect Lighthouse that everything else was a bit ho-hum? :lol: By the way, the in shore water is excellent.


12-20-2008, 12:40 AM
Ok, I can't figure out how you guys are putting pictures in your comments, so I'll just have to say I tweaked it a bit. I didn't have the heart to change the sky, since I like the contrast at the top.

Greensayer, thank you for your input and effort to show me to darken some areas and lighten others. I did a bit but not as dramatic as you suggested. To my chagrin, I spent a lot more time on the rocks and sky than I did on the lighthouse. I never spent so much time on a painting.

12-20-2008, 12:56 AM
Ok, I can't figure out how you guys are putting pictures in your comments,

Click on the GO ADVANCED reply then you will see that all too familiar little pciture icon with mountain - hit that and Voila - image making becomes easy in post :) Hurry up - cos we want to see what you did!

12-20-2008, 11:53 AM
mackb! Sorry to add yet another pic, but I wanted to address the matter of light and how it can work to improve your image. Select a direction from which the light will come. That of course establishes your shadow side by default. This is so simple that we do not always do it and the painting can suffer. Notice how this simple matter increases the drama and solidity of the work as a whole.

Now light in the sky. In essence we are going from a dark value at the top and grading down to a lighter value at the land just below the bottom of the light house. Notice though that the lighthouse itself is doing the opposite. It is coming up from a dark foundation to a white top against the dark sky. Very dramatic! When you can, always play your light against dark and vice versa.

These are suggestions for the 'left to right' and the 'top to bottom' of the painting. Now consider from 'back to front', especially in the land mass and the water. The furthest back is marked with A this would be a bluer grayer softer area without edge or line. The B area would be a bit lighter and warmer, still without detail.The lighthouse itself sits in this area and so it is the middle ground from which things will progressively darken again through the Cand D area. By darkening and adding detail, hard edges and line in this foreground area the painting actually appears to be three dimensional.
All of this comes about from simply establishing the direction of the light and relating everything in the painting to that. (AISI)

P.S. A taller slimmer format would have enhanced your image because then it would have allowed you to place that lighthouse window on the G.M. and then that lighthouse would really reach out and grab you!


12-20-2008, 12:52 PM
Mack, this is an attempt to respond to your question that you have trouble painting sharp lines in acrylic but it was related to the arguably too aggressive sky gradiant. Well, sharp line with a brush is always a subtle technique. It usually eludes me. The best idea is to be impressionistic and suggest the line. But if you were refering to blending, acrylics do dry maddenly fast. There are media to retard drying and when I want to blend, I make sure I've just had a double expresso and then slosh the paint around multo allegro. Swipes with a rag (gotta be fast) will help.

Or switch to Golden Open acrylics which agreeably dry quite slowly. Atelier Interactive are another slowish choice. Better than "standard" but not in a class with Golden Open.

12-21-2008, 02:22 AM
Thank you Greensyster for helping me find the path to inserting pix. I learn more evey time I come to this site. Your input is great.

Thanks tg, I use retarder when I try to blend, I used a lot on the sky in this pic. I am not used to adding mediums and such to my paints yet and I always worry that I am not adding it in the same proportions in each batch...

Corby, you are my new mentor, I am in awe of your sage advice. I have been reading yours and some of the other regular's advice in the critique forum and I have learned so much in such a short time, I am so grateful for your generous advice. You in particualr are so kind.

I am intragued how you do your illustrations and reworking of people's pix, it is quite impressive. Re, my painting, your last post in particular Corby. What is (AISI)? Also, what is G.M?

With all of your wonderful input, I am almost ashamed to show my retouched painting, because it won't meet your advice. I am afraid to touch the sky at this point. I should say that I'm giving this painting away to friends from Newfoundland, where the photo for the pic is from. I guess I'm afraid to muck it up.


I did muss up the far bluffs on the left a bit so they didn't look so naked. I also added some shadows to the rocks and lightened up a dark patch that was being misread as a shadow.

My original work is below:


As always, I very much appreciate everyone's advice and opinions. If you want to improve, you have to show and let them tell...

Ok, have at me and my timidness in altering my pic...

12-21-2008, 08:57 AM
I think you've made a remarkable series of improvements, especially with those pesky acrylics. While I agree, touching the sky would risk armageddon, I suggest there are a couple of simple, further improvements you could yet consider:

The rock area in the lower left is too red and inappropriately commands attention. Knock back this color

You've improved the far cliff diagonal shapes with a little variegation but they're too crisp and flat looking. You want them to recede so as to give the painting depth. Alter the hues towards blue to suggest atmospheric perspective and smudge the edge between the far diagonla and the sky.

I've tried to do a photoshop to illustrate these ideas. But your friends, the Newfies, will doubtless love it.


12-21-2008, 04:09 PM
Thank you mackb for your compliments. It gives me pleasure to be of help if I can. I dont know much, but what I know I firmly believe in. For example the G.M. it is a reference to the 'Golden Mean' or in its simplest form "The Rule of Thirds" it is the simple matter of dividing your canvas into equal thirds both horizontally and vertically, ( you will notice I did this in my last post to you) where the lines cross this is the G.M. Your lighthouse lines up with the right hand section very nicely, its edge closely paralleling it. This makes for the ultimate most visually pleasing position for your lighthouse. Now if your format were taller so as to give you room for movement of the image, you could really make it 'zing' by moving the lighthouse so that the window closest to the cross line mark, actually centers it You bring the 'magic' of the rule into full play! I would not think about reworking this. It is nice as it is. The things mentioned will perhaps serve you well on the next and future works?

I know, I present ideas sometimes as if there were not room for any other, as in this matter of the G.M. The 'AISI' is just a 'silly' on my part. A disclaimer if you will, it means "As I See It" Keep up the good work mack, that is what will make you progress, the words of others may serve as tools along the way, but your inner flame is what will make your paintings bright!

12-21-2008, 06:51 PM
Thanks Corby and tgsloth for your help. I have learned a lot in such a short time. I did know about the thirds, but somehow I moved the lighthouse over a bit and off the first third line. I will keep your advice in mind on my next painting. You guys have been great. thanks agian.