View Full Version : Thoughts on Composition?

11-12-2002, 07:45 AM
Please give me your thoughts regarding composition (or anything else). My husband has been after me to paint antique cars (his hobby).

This is painted on Canson, size is about 12"x18".


Here is the photo:


You can see that I changed the sky and trees -- I did put them in the painting, but they were too distracting and busy. I first tried to neutralize the area, but now feel that it needs to look like neutral sky instead of neutral trees. A light area, if you will. Just my thoughts.

Your thoughts?

Marsha Hamby Savage Art (http://www.marshasavage.com)
My EBay (http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=artbymarsha&include=0&since=-1&sort=3&rows=25)

11-12-2002, 04:41 PM
hey this is really great and unusual.... love the colours too.... sorry Im no good at compositions..... the only thought I had was it seemed a shame them shown in a sort of parking lot - Im sure someone else will be able to help you

11-12-2002, 09:01 PM
Your colors and details are great! :clap: The only problem I have is that the rear wheel on the blue green car seems too small - maybe 3/4 the size it should be. I would put the lamp post(s) in it but perhaps a bit more to the right - not quite as centered as in the photograph. I would also maybe darken the area between the yellow car and the darker red car - it seems a bit too light. oh and don't forget the door handle on the green car! We need a way to get in! :D I've always had problems with painting (or drawing) cars, probably has something to do with my lack of interest in the subject matter. My husband is a car enthusiast too. He can spot some antique car from 1/2 a mile away and tell you what year and model it is and I am saying what that yellow dot?

11-13-2002, 05:30 AM
I like the color contrasts very much.
It was a good idea to choose purple for the street.
go on!

11-14-2002, 02:44 AM
Marsha, it may have been a deliberate choice on your part, so ignore me if so.

I feel there is a perspective problem witht he car on the left. I can understand why you have made the front wheel larger than the back, it gives a sense of recession ... but if you are going to do that, then the perspective of the car is off. The line of the roof is parallel to the line of the bonnet, which is parallel to base of the car. If the car is "going away in space", then there would be some difference in those angles, they would eventually meet at a vanishing point on your eye level, albeit well outside of the rectangle. The angles will be subtle, but they will be there. You have done it with the windscreen, but not the main side of the car facing us!!

What I would do is this. I would stick the photo down on a piece of white paper, quite a large piece. Then I would extend the lines of the windscreen, which are quite obviously "in perspective", to will find your eye level. Then all you need to do is draw that eye level line out the other side of the picture, and then make sure that your car's side lines all meet on the right on that eye level line! You probably know all this, but I thought I would put it down in writing for the benefit of those who struggle with perspective. (I reckon you will find that your eye level is somewhere in the middle of the windows.)

Alternatively, you could probably just do it "by eye". Before changing anything - first look at the angle of the top of the roof of the blue-green car. You hae made it quite a bit steeper than the photo.


11-14-2002, 05:37 AM
Thanks Jackie,

It was not deliberate on my part. I struggle with perspective and am one of those instant gratification people. I need to work out the logistics on a piece of paper as you suggest.

I will be correcting the background and will correct the top of that car -- maybe raising the front along the windscreen instead of lowering the back.

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas -- always look forward to seeing that you have posted. You are a valuable asset to this community.

Marsha Hamby Savage Art (http://www.marshasavage.com)
My Ebay Auctions (http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=artbymarsha&include=0&since=-1&sort=3&rows=25)

11-14-2002, 07:01 AM
Marsha - I am afraid you will HAVE to change the side angles if it is to look right.

I tried printing off the photo, and doing as I suggested you should do. I stuck it down onto a sheet of paper, and then, using the windscreen first, extended the two main lines. This gave me a Vanishing Point, and I could then draw the horizon line,(Eye Level) working from left to right across the picture.

Then, I used the two main angles on the side of the car, to find the VP on the right.

You will notice, however, that the top of the roof does not follow the rule.
I suspect that this is because the roof of the car is actually slightly higher at the back than it is at the front - a car buff would be able to confirm this! Perhaps your husband would know for sure? I also suspect that there is a curve on that main door, which means that the bottom of the door doesn't exactly follow the rules either. Either that, or the camera has curved the image somewhat ... as mine clearly did, sorry!


If you always struggle with perspective, which is perfectly understandably, who doesn't (I did, even with this, if you look closely)- then this little game of cutting out a pic and sticking it down, and extending the lines to find the VP's, is great fun to do and you will learn a lot. Find some old magazines, and lots of nice pics with lines of this kind. Interiors, landscapes, anything that takes your fancy. Then stick them down onto a huge sheet of white card. Then have great fun with a felt pen and a ruler. I loved doing this when I was at college, and it taught me masses. It was SO much more fun than trying to construct stuff, using "the rules". Just a thought for a rainy day.

11-15-2002, 06:17 AM
Thanks Jackie,

I'll try it! And you are right about the top of the car - it is higher in the back. When drawing this onto my paper, I was using the proportions of each section to another section instead of perspective rules (which I might not have correct either!). I know that a lot of antique car buffs have their cars altered - lowering the front, chopping the top, etc.

But, I am not happy with the angle of this car and so will try to correct what I can. Thanks for your insights and your good demo of the lines of perspective using my photo.

I'll let you guys see the finished result. This was my first attempt at doing the cars - so learning loads about the construction of them.

Marsha Hamby Savage Art (http://www.marshasavage.com)
My Ebay Auctions (http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=artbymarsha&include=0&since=-1&sort=3&rows=25)

11-15-2002, 12:11 PM
Marsha & Jackie both,

I have learned so much from your discussion on perspective. I've been taught to draw what I see and measure, measure, measure - but I never had proper training about perspective. Now I have something I can use at home with the landscapes I painted the last two days. I think the roof lines are correct, but I'll have to go check it out.



11-15-2002, 12:43 PM
bnoonan - your teachers are right, measuring is terribly important, because if the porportions are wrong, then even if the perspective lines are right, the picture will look amateurish.

Perspective rules should be used to CHECK stuff, once you have all your shapes in place. Then, you simply use the rules to make sure that your parallel lines, going away in space, DO actually meet at a vanishing point.

Roofs can be tricky in this respect, because the houses might not all be built on the same level, or there may be a curve in the road, or there may be a house "turning a corner", as it were. Perspective rules are easy to follow when YOU KNOW the lines HAVE to be parallel with each other, like the top and bottom of a window, or the top and bottom of a door. Roofs are there to break all the rules and fool you!!


11-15-2002, 01:33 PM
just a thought on composition...it looks pretty good also cropped on the right, with mostly just the headight onwards showing on the red front car..
I love the colour interest here, and interest with the other cars....

11-15-2002, 02:11 PM
I wouldn't even attempt something like this LOL Great colors. I'm off to an old car show tomorrow. Maybe I Should take some pictures TO LOOK AT LOL Cause no way would I try one LOL

11-16-2002, 05:48 AM
Boonan - glad you are enjoying the conversation. We all learn, even when we don't realize it, from the conversations created here. Jackie gives wonderful advice -- and in a very positive way!

Gnu -- a couple of people have been concerned about the raised cover - wondering what it was -- and you might be right about cropping it off and just showing the headlight and a small portion of the grill, etc.

Luvy - take a lot of pictures and then do some paintings, sketches, or whatever from them. What have you got to lose? I was a little intimidated by the cars for years and would not try them. Seems crazy when I try people, houses, buildings of all kinds -- why not cars? I took over 100 pictures at this particular car show, some such as you see here and some very close up detail shots of headlights, side panels, back ends, etc. I can't wait now to try many more paintings, I am inspired and intrigued right now with them. You might be too, if you will just give that first one a go!

Thanks for all the advice from everyone -- and if there is any more out there, I'll be glad to hear it!

Marsha Hamby Savage Art (http://www.marshasavage.com)
My Ebay Auctions (http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=artbymarsha&include=0&since=-1&sort=3&rows=25)