View Full Version : Gamelan Player

01-13-2000, 05:20 PM
Hi, this is a piece that I am currently working on, and I need some help and advice. The painting is of a Balinese Gamelan player. The original contains more gamelan players in the background and some clutter. I removed all of that in my painting, but felt that something was missing, so I added the pillar.

Now, a question of composition - should I keep the pillar? Make it very subdued? Do you feel all that empty space is "disturbing"?

Any comment is helpful.

Here are the three versions (digitally modified).




01-13-2000, 05:28 PM
Oh, I forgot to ask...
Would you be interested to see this thing evolve? Sort of a "misstep by misstep" http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

irene clark
01-13-2000, 08:01 PM
Hi Henrik, Yes I for one would definitely like to see your progressions. What a good idea!! Also I prefer the 3rd picture above, but that's probably because you added some colour. I really like what you're doing. The black background really makes the subject stand out, almost like you're right beside him.
Keep on stroking.

Drew Davis
01-13-2000, 10:08 PM
I don't find the empty space disturbing, exactly, but it does leave the poor man without any context.

I think the pillar is a useful compositional stop. The line of repeated, uh, gamelan bowl things, plus the mallet in his right hand, shoot the eye right off to the left. You've got to have something there to catch the viewer and bring them back.

Clearly, you want to focus on this one player and subdue the background, so I'd keep that instinct. Putting the two ideas together, I prefer the third picture. We've still got a stop, the fading of the pillar keeps it from leading us straight up out of the picture, and there's a hint of space to contain the player, subdued so as not to distract, but not completely black. I'd build on that trend by strengthening the light gradient on the main figure and along the gamelan (think of a classic chiarscuro still life), to further indicate a strong light washing left to right, bringing the eye back from the stop. Sort of a tension between the movement of the shape and the movement of the light, if that's not too artspeak-y to make sense. A couple of other subdued items in the background would complete the sense of space in the dark area.

I look forward to seeing what you do with this one.

01-14-2000, 01:02 PM
Wow, you must have read my mind - what you describe is exactly the effect I am after. I got inspired to do this painting after watching chiarscuro paintings and interplay between the flow of the form and the flow of the light.

As you said, I think there is a bit more context and sence of space needed. The original things in the photo are to eye catching to be used as is, so I have to come up with something else.

I will post the result.

Phyllis Rennie
01-14-2000, 08:24 PM
I think the pillar is important. Not to fill up empty space but to direct the viewers eye back to the center of interest--which is extremely interesting. Like this painting very much. Would really like to see it when you are finished.

01-15-2000, 08:02 PM
Hi, now I have made some changes (digital) to the picture. As suggested I added some more context, there are now 3 gamelan players in the background (rough sketch). I moved the pillar slightly to the left, and should probably move the three new gamelan players somewhat to the left as well to leave some more space in front of the face of the main player.

I have added some of the lightning effect that I wanted, but I did not finish it. I have also hinted at the color choices. The main player's shirt is the most unfished part. In the painting there will be lots of sparkle to it to bring focus even further into the triangle made up of players face, and the two mallets. What I am trying to capture is the player mental state - the concentration on the gamelan 'pots' (ugnh - have to find out what they are called http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/redface.gif).



01-16-2000, 10:23 AM
I preferred the version with the full pillar until I got down to the version where you had the other 3 people in the background. This gives depth and context without distracting with the full pillar.


01-16-2000, 07:23 PM
here is yet one more digitally modified version of this painting. I think I am finished with the composition now, and I want to start painting. I have made changes to the group of background gamelan players to leave more room in front of the face of the main player. I have darkened the bowls and added highlights on the face and "hat". I darkened the mallets (they flared up in Starwars fashion http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif when I darkened the bowls).

In the process of darkening the bowls the highlights got a bit misplaced; now it looks like the light comes from several directions, but I did not bother about fixing that (I won't paint it that way).

As you can see I have not yet done anything about the shirt, I think that will help a lot with the focus, but I am going to paint that instead of doing it on the computer.

I really need help with comments if there is anything else you think I should do with the composition/light.


[This message has been edited by henrik (edited January 16, 2000).]

01-16-2000, 07:49 PM
Personally, I liked the bowls brighter. It added something (what, I'm not sure) to the feel of the piece.


01-17-2000, 03:44 AM
Hi Randy, thanks for your comment.
Well... I think I overdid the darkening of the bowls, they definitely lost shape in the process. Now I think there are also to few values in the shadows.

I should probably just have darkened bowl nbr 2 (counting from our left), and the rightmost part of the last bowl (to our right).

[This message has been edited by henrik (edited January 17, 2000).]

01-28-2000, 07:06 PM
I got some feedback from Johannes pointing out that I should perhaps avoid the dualism in the arms of the player. Johannes suggested that I should bring one arm down on the 'bowls'. So... I tried it.

I think this is what I was looking for. With the players righ arm down, the mallet doesn't point towards the pillar (and of canvas). Things are more connected now as well. I think it is a big improvement. Thanks Johannes.
(I tried moving the other hadn too, but that did not have as much effect).

So what do the rest of you think?

01-28-2000, 07:10 PM
Ooops! Anatomy got a bit screwed up. The edit shortened the arm. I think it should hit on the bowl one step to our left from where I now positioned the mallet.

02-05-2000, 11:12 PM
The empty space is really disturbing. Try to do something about it. Even it is's night, there may be more colors in it. Now the emptyness seems black and frightening.

02-06-2000, 01:53 PM
henrik.....at the start, you had a linear perspective in your composition(the line of musical istruments) but no corresponding perspective for it to work with. so it was trying to show depth but looked flat. you need to support the diagonal with background...a wall, windows, your pillar works but needs better placement or additional pillars.
you're starting to lose you musician and the instruments are lost. i think it would have been better for you to develop the painting all at once.
that you posted the image in progress without addressing the unpainted areas, tells me you had no clear idea as to where your compositional values would go. three values is all you need. dark, middle , and light. i would have done a thumbnail value placement sketch.
are you working in watercolors?. the residual effect of not developing the WHOLE painting is that you have a hard edged line around the figure that may be difficult to overcome...milt

02-06-2000, 02:28 PM
henrik...here's an option relating to what i said. forget the colors i used,,,they're unimportant. i added a two windows and a backlight to anchor the figure in space. pop hilights to make metal look like metal.

"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe

02-06-2000, 03:07 PM
Thanks Milt,
that is really helpful; I was really stuck on trying to use the original pieces (althoug moving them around, chainging size etc). I see how it can look different now, I did some scetches of more musicians in the background etc. but it all looked pretty awful.

The painting is in oil, and is 44x37"
Thanks for taking time doing the edits it is much apreciated


Homepage at Artistnation now with early work available (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/henrik)

[This message has been edited by henrik (edited February 06, 2000).]

02-06-2000, 03:29 PM
henrik,,,i hope we catch each other in wetchat . i want to mention something to you....milt

02-06-2000, 05:37 PM
Liked what you did Milt. The feeling however is not very balinese; there are myriads of things everywhere. This is more in line with how it looked at the scene. About 40 umbrellas tilting in all directions, fruit and vegtables, tents, statues, flowers.

What do you think about this background. (It is everything except a distressing void I think http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/helipirat.gif Homepage at Artistnation now has earlier work (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/henrik)

[This message has been edited by henrik (edited February 06, 2000).]

02-06-2000, 06:29 PM
from what you described,,,this offers you a lot of freedom in placing your object wherever you want. the objects look at bit scattered. and the musician doesn't overlap anything,,,so things look a bit flat. put things behind him to frame him.
flip your image upside down, and add/remove shapes(just PURE ABSTRACT shapes with no regard to specific "things". once you have a pleasing composition, flip it back right side up, and replace those abstract shapes you added with umbrellas, etc, etc, and other stuff....milt

02-06-2000, 07:31 PM
thanks again, I continued working on the image digitally as you suggested. (It was awfully hard to draw umbrellas upside down http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif). Think there is more depth now.


Phyllis Rennie
02-07-2000, 07:52 PM
Wow! Like that background! Except for the thing "growing out of his head"--maybe you can diminish it in some way. Are you working in paint yet? Phyl.

[This message has been edited by Phyllis Rennie (edited February 07, 2000).]

02-08-2000, 04:08 AM
Thanks Phyllis, I think you mean the orange stuff on our right of the player. I was just waiting for someone to comment on that. I tried to put objects behind the player, but that was a mistake; not only does it grow out of his head, it is also an architectural oddity. Think I will do it the way it looks in the previous version. Umbrella is a keeper though I think.

Right now I am staring at the red flag in the middle; I am thinking, either take it down in value or remove it.

I really liked what bruin did and have been thinking about why I liked it. Could I get the same effect while still having the balinese objects in the background? Could it be that bruin's use of muddy (non-descript) colors (the olive green, muddy-orange, etc.) make the clearer colors in the forground stand out more and appear brighter?

My Balinese background is quite different with lots of saturated warm colors fighting for attention.

One thing that I see as a problem will hopefully go away when I paint it; now there is a kitchy "glow in the dark tiger on black velvet" feeling to the whole piece http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/tongue.gif

And P, I have painted some stuff; the hand is now moved and have received B/W underpaint but the rest is just digital manouvers.

I am going to take some pictures of the progress and post.

02-08-2000, 09:13 AM
Henrik, I love the stuff in the background. It gives you a lot more of the story and feel of the place. Can't wait to see it in paint.

Phyllis Rennie
02-08-2000, 07:31 PM
I like the reds, etc. in the background. I think they add unity to the painting. There may be one or two spots that are a bit too bright but you can easily fix that. And if you save your sharpest contrast in values and your hard edges for the musician, I don't think they'll compete. But then I usually like analagous color schemes so that influences my opinion. Phyl.

02-15-2000, 06:46 AM
henrik......if you need the orange object, extend it past the left of his head. you might be overthinking what you see. it's not as if you painted a cucumber stuck in his head. also,,,is this guy wearing a light shirt with lots of colored lights reflecting off his shirt?....milt

02-15-2000, 10:39 AM
Milt, thanks for your comment - agree that orange thing would need to extend on other side of player - then I get an architectural problem (it is part of a building now). Instead of doing this I think I will add a distant building draped in cloth.

The player has a quite dark purple satin shirt; it is impressive in the photo.

02-15-2000, 01:11 PM
henrik,,,here's mrs white.
note...A&B. where sargent catches the dress's haftone is what you're most concerned with. the shading on the dress is so subtle, it's almost like one value. and he then adds the hilite. simple value plan C&D...dress in strong light. STILL two simple values. but more contrast, showing strong light. E...dress in distance. simple again but not contrasty as in C,D because it is in distant shadow.
i hope this is not getting real complicated but you get the point,,,simple shading, clean hilite. here's the full image link http://sunsite.auc.dk/cgfa/sargent/p-sargen16.htm

[This message has been edited by bruin70 (edited February 15, 2000).]

02-15-2000, 01:13 PM
what you get when you eliminate the hilites...now it is clear to see . note,,,he does not get REAL smooth with his rendering. you can see subtle clarity of indivisual brushstroke.

[This message has been edited by bruin70 (edited February 15, 2000).]

02-15-2000, 01:17 PM
dark satin.

02-15-2000, 01:19 PM
high shimmer. note,,,still simple. one or two value+ hilite

02-15-2000, 01:31 PM
Milt. Thank you - great references. I may come back with a question or two...

02-15-2000, 05:11 PM
Milt, the look is probably closest to the black satin you posted, although the players shirt looks thinner (flimsier) and it is not such a tight fit; lots of wrinkles".

Milt, how do you suggest I paint it; I was thinking about doing a B/W underpainting as a starting point...

02-15-2000, 06:44 PM
let me think about this one. are there light reflections bouncing off the shirt? probably not a lot since the shirt is dark....and does the shirt HAVE to be dark?...milt

02-15-2000, 06:49 PM
henrik,,,can you post the photo? i need to see what you mean about the shirt and what is going on. post as a new thread. this one is loading slow, with all the images....milt

02-15-2000, 07:40 PM
I agree with Phyllis and Patti, love the purples playing against the reds.

02-16-2000, 12:17 AM
ooooooo. dark purple at night. you're going to have good time. well,,,if you HAVE to get it right.......satin, like silk will have smooth shadings(like any cloth) but will also give you sharp hilites that contrast with the shirt's values. you must let the masters show you the way. if you have a book on sargent,,,pull it out. there's a painting of a mrs.white. she wears a satin/silk dress. the best way to "see" what sargent does is to eliminate the hilites from the dress, see how he renders the dress, then put the hilites back in. the hilites are clean, crisp, and in sharp contrast to the value of the dress around it. HE DOES NOT BLEND THE HILITE. it is simply a well chosen color and value.
you're losing the form of the man as you proceed. and when the shirt gets darker, he'll be lost totally. think about backdropping him more(in areas,,,not all around) with your background shapes, so that you can see his form better....milt

02-16-2000, 04:18 AM
Hi Milt, only have the photo as a 35mm slide. The midtone value is close to what I show digitally (i.e. not really dark); there is lot of highligts (player is front-lit by a spotlight).

Analyzing the picture I see what you were saying milt; there is really just three values and more or less just one hue. So on painting process; this may be easy to do without an underpainting.

There is a very smooth and liquid quality to the shirt. Except for some tricky areas the shadows, midtone and highligth are very distinct - like "paint by number" if you like.

02-17-2000, 06:01 PM
This thread is becoming overloaded with pictures. The story continues at Gamelan Player (cont) (http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/Forum21/HTML/000147.html)
Go there - closups of shirt from photo are now posted.