View Full Version : Hard Crit needed tonight! WIP rocks under water

Deborah Secor
08-25-2009, 10:52 PM
If anyone is around and can give me a good, hard crit on this painting I'd sure appreciate it! It's on Pastelmat, 12x18", and nearing the finish, although I'm going to tweak it some more... So have at it--I can take the good and the bad!


Many thanks!

Kathryn Day
08-25-2009, 11:11 PM
Hi Deborah, I looked and looked and couldn't find anything that I didn't like. My eyes move around the whole piece, I really like the golds in the foreground. Hopefully, someone with more experience in critiques will come by. I like it a lot.

08-25-2009, 11:16 PM
What do you think of Pastelmat?

08-25-2009, 11:30 PM
I don't think I can give you a hard crit but that large rock with the white top in the middle of the foreground attracts my attention more than I think you might want. It's got such strong contrast. I love the rest of it & think it's beatiful.

CM Neidhofer
08-25-2009, 11:57 PM
I love rock paintings! These and the water look great. I think I have to agree with Tammy, though. That flat, bright rock in the foreground seems to be just a bit brighter than the rest and draws my attention. If that's your intent, it works, otherwise I think I would tone it down just a smidge. :clap: :clap:


08-26-2009, 01:06 AM
The foreground seems to be the major center of attention. I am looking at the over all flow of the water and I am wondering if there should be more water movement on the foreground rocks, maybe a little splashing, or at least a raise and fall to some of them.

08-26-2009, 02:05 AM
The more i look the more I love it. But, I do think that large rock needs to be toned down just a bit as it stops me when looking at the painting. If I ignore it I can go around and look all over but it does stop my attention.


Donna T
08-26-2009, 10:10 AM
It's beautiful Deborah! You really got the look of rocks under water. Perhaps the edges of the rocks on the far shore, in the midground, could be softened a little. Some of them appear to be slightly outlined. I kind of like the bright sunlit look of the big rock and wonder if maybe you could enhance the light on the trees/foliage just a bit to support that idea. What if you brought one of those branches out over the rocks just a little more so it could grab some sun? Or even a branch in the shade sticking out over the rocks might add a little more depth in that area and break up the line of rocks. Just thoughts - it's fun to 'what if' with someone else's painting!


08-26-2009, 10:11 AM
Deb -- The transparency of the water in the foreground is very nicely done. (I really like those squiggles of highlight/reflection. Particularly in the lower left hand corner. Inspired!)

The big white rock distracts me (and maybe it's just me) because the shape is so much more angular (flatter top and box-like edges) and bigger than the rest of the rocks, because the "skirt" (the sides) are so much more pronounced and darker (higher contrast vs the rock's top plane), and lastly because the top plane is a bit lighter than all the other rocks' tops.

Again, maybe it's me, but my mind tells me that rocks that are all in a similar milieu (like in that location in that creek) share an origin and a 'look'. But that's all just in my mind. (Naive geologist!) I have no doubt the real rock prolly looked exactly like that. :D You know, rather than tone down Big Rock, another notion would be to bring a couple of the other rocks more into sync with it. Just musing.

But overall I think this is lovely. I also very much like the level of "finish", where I can see and admire your strokes and decisions. I would be proud to hang this one on my wall! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Hope this helps.


08-26-2009, 10:31 AM
Hi Deborah

Lots of lovely things going on with this painting. However, the very high contrast between the sunlit rocks and the water is actually rather disturbing, the effect has me hopping visually from rock to rock!!!! They are like visual punctuation marks!

I long to see what would happen if you toned down the brightness not just of the focal two, but also quite a few of the others as well. They are very "samey" for colour and tone.

I also feel like I am looking at a garden scene where every single flower is carefully painted, with the finished effect being that I see every flower separately and fail to see the whole garden. My sense is that this is to do with the camera seeing too much; if you were at the scene, looking at those two focal rocks, your peripheral vision would not be able to take in all the rest with equal sharpness. Instead, i feel slightly stabbed in the eye by all those sharp, hard edges!

Also, I wonder if the camera overexposed for the bright areas, wiping out some of the subtleties of colour?

Given the masses of foliage along the banks, perhaps you could tone down some of the rocks, and lose their edges a little, by adding suggestions of shadows cast by the foliage. And maybe you could add MORE rocks, so that you have groups of rocks creating interesting shapes as a whole?

Dont know if these will help at all.............




Finally, it is interesting to me that you called it rocks under water. What we actually see, first and foremost, is the rocks OUT of the water.......just a thought...........

08-26-2009, 12:39 PM
Deborah The best way for me to critique it is to hang it on my wall for about a year and enjoy it. :) no problems in my eyes.

It's glorious and so is yours Jackie. Barb

Deborah Secor
08-26-2009, 01:38 PM
I can't thank you all enough! I've read and digested your thoughts, as well as those in the landscape forum, where I also posted this. Here's my final result:


This one was shot in indirect daylight, of course, and the lighting makes such a difference. (The shot of it before had blown out all the detail in the light--but you have to critique it as you see it!)

I changed a LOT of things about it. Most significant is the size and shape of the big rock. I was wondering about making it more characteristic, and less of an anomaly, which was a big portion of the reason I posted my plea for your critique! You all managed to see and point out the flaws I was questioning, as well as making some great suggestions! I'm making two small further changes. (So I'm editing to post the tweaked one, too! THIS time I got the color accurate.)


I LOVE this Pastelmat, and I can now tell you that you most certainly can make corrections on it. I used a stiff paintbrush to whisk off the pastel and repainted over it with no problems. This paper has enough tooth to take correction well, plus it never loses that soft texture. It invites blending, but doesn't demand it!

Anyway, thanks again. This one is off to its destination...


Deborah Secor
08-26-2009, 02:09 PM
Oh, and Jackie, the title is 'Shallows'. I called this thread rocks under water because that's what I'm teaching this week in my class--how to effectively portray rocks or other objects beneath the surface of water.


08-26-2009, 02:16 PM
Absolutely gorgeous!
Love the changes, all good!

Kathryn Wilson
08-26-2009, 03:33 PM
The crits about the big rock were what I questioned most when I thought about painting this scene - I just didn't know how to handle it. Glad you did it first!

I'm also not sure about the area where the water ends in the far distance - it just seems to stop and go nowhere.

Deborah Secor
08-26-2009, 03:37 PM
Well, for now it's going to have to do, Kat. I wondered about that, too, but when I look at the painting here in my studio I don't seem to struggle over it. By the way, MANY thanks for using your photo! I just (re)discovered it was yours... Now I want to see your version. :D


08-26-2009, 04:14 PM
BIG improvements. so much better, it's a winner now.

Incidentally, the painting I posted was not one of mine...I found it in google images and hoped it might be helpful.

I had a sneaky feeling the camera might have blown out all the subtle colour in the lights...

so glad it looks as it does now.

Kathryn Wilson
08-26-2009, 06:57 PM
Well, for now it's going to have to do, Kat. I wondered about that, too, but when I look at the painting here in my studio I don't seem to struggle over it. By the way, MANY thanks for using your photo! I just (re)discovered it was yours... Now I want to see your version. :D


Ha ... I'd already determined this one is for the likes of you and Jackie S. - not this rank amateur :evil:

08-26-2009, 10:36 PM
Wow, this is great! Love the combo of colors!

Jan A
08-26-2009, 11:15 PM
I am just a beginner at Wet Canvas and pastels but I grew up in the mountains and still spend a lot of time in the Sierra. Your painting therefore immediately grabbed my attention. I find the criticism of the rocks interesting. Some days up in high altitude, the rocks (a lot of them light colored granite) nearly reflect like the sun. I thought you nailed the rocks personally. That said, your changes on the rocks were still lovely and I liked your changes made of the trees lining the bank. I would have liked to kept the rocks everywhere and the river as you had it and put in thelast tree changes! I will look forward to your future works!

Deborah Secor
08-27-2009, 12:21 AM
Thanks, Jan. I'm afraid that first photo really just wasn't very accurate--but I know what you mean! There are days around here when the sun just gleams hot on the rocks. Welcome to WC...and pastels, too, I assume. :wave:

Thanks Jackie, Cindy and Deb! :D

Knock it off, Kat. Rank amateur, my patootie! HA--now I REALLY want you to paint it!


Kathryn Wilson
08-27-2009, 12:29 AM
Flattery will get you ..... (fill in whatever you want here)

Good grief, woman, you know not what you ask! I just looked at that photo again - the mind boggles at all the little details. :eek:

Deborah Secor
08-27-2009, 12:59 AM
It will absorb your mind....OOooor, don't DO all the details! It's not your style. I can see a cool, colorful distillation a la Kat. :cool:


08-27-2009, 03:38 AM
Kat - turn the photo upside down and sketch from it. You wont "see" all the little details.
then, put the photo away for time, and paint from the sketch (the right way up of course.......)

You will be surprised how sketching upsidedown (the photo, not you!!) forces you just to concentrate on the main, big shapes.

Kathryn Wilson
08-27-2009, 10:01 AM
Good grief - I'm being piled up against by the two of you!

awwright!!! I pulled up the photo again last night and the artist brain took over and started thinking about shapes, not details.

Jackie - what a picture of an artist hanging upside down painting :) I shall try your suggestion!

Kathryn Wilson
08-27-2009, 10:08 AM
Makes me dizzy painting this way:


Deborah Secor
08-27-2009, 12:53 PM
Lovely! It is dizzying! That means that the shapes create GREAT depth. Draw it so that the dynamics are that strong, from a distilled standpoint, and I think you're onto something.

Makes me want to turn my painting upside down and see if it works as well... (Holding breath.... will it work?)


You tell me!?


08-27-2009, 01:07 PM
this is so spectacular!!!! the big rock looks even better! ginger

Kathryn Wilson
08-27-2009, 01:29 PM
works for me!

08-27-2009, 01:41 PM
This is wonderful..the lights and the colors are just right on the money!!

Kathryn Wilson
08-27-2009, 02:52 PM
I posted above the upside down version next to the upside down photo.

Here is the dynamics right-side up.


You can see the shapes of the hillside coming down to the water and the water flowing to the back.

(thought I'd do this step by step so you all can follow)

Woooweee, that sketch is blurry, but you get the idea. I used Handell's favorite sketching pastel (dark green). From here, I'll probably fix this with water or turp and do my thing with watercolor with pastel on top.

Deborah Secor
08-27-2009, 07:56 PM
Kat, this is so fun! Maybe your painting should have it's own thread so it doesn't get lost to everyone... We want to watch as you paint it (if you do.) :D


Kathryn Wilson
08-27-2009, 08:24 PM
Depending on the current crisis, I am intrigued enough to give it a shot, but might have to take a back seat for a little bit.

I think it's own thread is in order.

I like the flow of the lines towards the back of the painting. My memories of the place are this: a deep ravine, shaded over with trees almost like a tunnel, with the bright, sparkly river running through it. I have other photos I like better than this one and one gorgeous shot that John took of Looking Glass Falls.

Donna T
08-27-2009, 08:42 PM
I'll be watching to see what you do with this Kat. What a cool way to paint!

(Thanks Deborah and Jackie for 'persuading' her to try this! :) )


Kathryn Wilson
08-27-2009, 08:56 PM
ummm ... I won't be painting this one upside down. I totally got lost doing the upside down thing. My brain just couldn't comprehend, but it certainly is worth a try if it works for Jackie.

persuasion, my eye ... more like arm twisting :) (affectionately said)

Deborah Secor
08-27-2009, 10:18 PM
Jackie, I've got one arm--you take the other side, okay? :wink2:


08-27-2009, 10:32 PM
Deborah: I am a little late on this, but I really like the changes you made, in fact I think you NAILED IT! The advice given by our friends here was really good. What you did with the "big rock" and softening the others was crucial I think...Very Nice. Derek