View Full Version : Shorebirds

08-06-2009, 10:38 AM



Title: Shorebirds
Year Created:
Medium: Acrylic
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 20x20
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

My original plan for this painting was to add in some grasses and more water, however when i got it to this stage it really appealed to me so i quickly put the brushes away before i continued and lost what I might have found. I want my paintings to be more loose and less polished more impression/abstract.

What I am wondering is if this peice gives this feeling to anyone else or if it just feels unfinnished? Any and all comments are welcome! Any compositional suggestions wonderful as well!

08-06-2009, 12:01 PM
I like the simple impression you have given your birds. I think once again your background though overwelms them. I am confused as to whether they are both on the ground or the one is actually in the air. There is not depth in the background and it doesn't give enough information as to what is back there. I guess my eye wants to see a seperation of land and air. I really like the color you have used on the birds and the way you have them painted.

08-06-2009, 12:37 PM
Crazywoman, First thank you for you input. The bird in the background is in the process of landing. The background was originally just to give some back colour and I was going to add in grass and water But as I said something about this struck me. Any suggestions for giving more seperation without giving alot more detail? Maybe lighten it?

08-06-2009, 01:08 PM
Suvi I like your direction here and your goals for looseness in presenting the image. There is one underlying problem that if solved will go a long way to the success of your painting. I would do another of the same subject, but plan the composition out before starting to paint. Here you have too small a birds in too large a setting and so they lose their place, they do not register any importance. As Crazywoman has said the emptiness consumes them. It is always good to start any painting by actually marking out the rule of thirds on your canvas (When you get used to using it you will not have to mark it out) This is simply dividing your canvas up into equal thirds both horizontally and vertically. The lines become 'golden lines' and where the lines cross (the four spots) become the the 'golden means' On the basis of this I would enlarge the birds and place the larger bird on the first (1) vertical golden line in such a manner that he has a leg on each side of it and note that his beak is placed on the top horizontal golden line which is labeled (3). By doing this the birds head becomes the focal point as it falls on or near the first golden mean (4) The second bird is placed on the second vertical golden line (2) by utilizing the rule of thirds' you will always have a harmonious painting compositionally. One that makes the greatest and best use of your images.
If this seems complicated it really isn't, just carefully examine what I have said with the aid of the workup and you can see its simplicity. You of course may well be awre of these things and have chosen not to implement it. But professionals of the highest order make continual use of its simple principles.


08-06-2009, 01:28 PM
Corby, You have talked about the rule of thirds before, and believe it or not I actually tried to use it on this piece.:o I Do see what you guys mean about the empty space, and how to better use the rule of thirds... I will definitally take this knowledge into my next pieces. For this perticular one without changing the birds too drastically is there anything compositionally I could do to help the birds pop out more? i did an underpainting in green to hopefully make it pop out off the background a bit more... I was taught this technique in my short time at art school... has anyone else tried this?does it actually work?


08-06-2009, 01:49 PM
Suvi.. I am not much of an abstract painter and I don't want to lead you astray from your intention. If you want to go more impressionistic though then I would think there would be a horizon line somewhere that tells us where the land ends and air begins and also by a change in values where the foreground recedes into the background. The further you go back the lighter and bluer generally it becomes. So your very dark patch of maroon there tells me it is foreground but it is on the same plane as what I am assuming is a background bird flying in for landing. I would say your birds are more impressionist than abstract in form so perhaps you just need to have some impressionistic forms that indicate the scene as well. Take a piece of tracing paper and trace your birds and then play around with it before committing it to your work. Then you can decide what and if you want to change and won't risk losing what appeals to you now. Check out some of the impressionistic artist's work and maybe you will get some ideas how they handled it. When it comes to total abstract I am out in left field but I know there are some artist here who handle it quite well and perhaps one of them will speak out here for you. HOpe this helps :)

08-06-2009, 01:59 PM
I have always loved impressionism and have been trying very hard to loosen up and gain some of their techniques. When i started painting I started by copying works by Robert Batemans latest works so probably the farthest thing from impressionism you can get. I have looked for impressionist threads on here but generally havnt had much luck. I will definitally take another look tonight and see if i can adjust the background a tad to suggest more seperation between the ground and sky.

Thanks again!!

If i lightened the dark patch on the top left would this help?

08-06-2009, 02:19 PM
crazywoman and I always seem to think along the same lines. You can preserve your abstraction here which is really only a simplification of image and has not a whole lot to do with what and how much is included as images...so I would recommend that in oder to make this work give the birds a more rounded out environment. Make sure the foreground bird is the focal point. Where he is white in body make it stand out against the dark wet sand. Where his head comes up into the water make sure the white highlights from the natural light are much brighter on his head than on the water behind so that his head is 'pushed at us' If you wish a bit of detail as in reflection and sparkle in the water, you can use it throughout but make sure that it is emphatic around the bird. I would put in his yellow/orange legs making them the only spot of that color in the painting. Repeat it in the legs of the flying bird but extremely subdued so that our brain more than our eyes register it.
This is of course a computer workup but the machine very much copies the manner of painting in oil so I have just indicated what I feel would work and have left part of the painting in the stages of, hoping it might give you a sense of what I did to create the various types of image. You will note that it is mostly a matter of laying color down, keeping your brush strokes in a more or less horizontal flow for the water and then for the sand and reflections it is laying the colors you want down in patches of the proper shape and color and then just placing your brush in the appropriate spot and pulling straight down...going back in with highlights such as along the scud line of the water... I very much like your green underpainting, it adds a sparkle though it will not in itself make specific items stand out in the overpainting. And I do see how you have used the rule of thirds, it is just a matter of the birds being small, but I think that if you create the environment in a bit more detail it will be quite nice!


08-06-2009, 03:29 PM
Corby & Crazywoman,

You c & c are very welcome and appreciated!!

Corby - You computer work up is great! I am definitally going to take this back to the studio with me and work the background a little more to try and get the birds off the canvas a bit.

08-06-2009, 07:16 PM
I love the simplicity and looseness of your birds, they are very pleasing. I agree, my first thought was that they should be bigger. Corby's example really helps give some context to the birds as well.

08-06-2009, 07:21 PM
Thank you! I have been trying to be alot 'looser' with my paintings! I am very glad it has started to come across!! and Yes I definitally agree Corby's examples are wonderful! definitally a great learning tool!!

08-07-2009, 12:55 AM
Good advice Suvi and your painting being in Acrylic, it should be easy to paint over. Good luck with this one and do post your rework if you do it.....Lenore

08-07-2009, 12:31 PM
Lenore, I definitally will post it! I am hoping to get organized enough to take some paintings down to a market today but if that doesnt happen ill definitally be reworking this one!!