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tgault
04-06-2000, 04:01 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/blue_vase_with_sunflowers.jpg
I've been reading this forum for the last several days after stumbling upon it from an internet search. I appreciate what's going on here, so have decided to toss my own work into the discussion to get some impressions. Please - don't be gentle!

This watercolor painting of sunflowers is 16x20 inches and was started from life and finished from photographs, as I only find about 2 hours a day to spend painting.

arlene
04-06-2000, 05:53 PM
There's nothing to critique. beautiful!

henrik
04-06-2000, 08:16 PM
Wonderful!
I love the way the "action" in the flowers are contrasted by the round "non-action" vase. The flowers are like an explosion (and I mean it in a good way).

There is one tiny thing that pops out... three of the petals create a clock like pattern (12, 9 and 3 o'clock in the "lower left" - green leaf also "mimic" the position of the "9 o'clock" yellow petal.
There is also a "3 o'clock petal" on the other side of the vase, but that does not stand out the same way. To remove the "hands of a clock" thing you would have to tweak (rotate) some of the yellow petals a little, and/or take one out.

Was that brutal enough for you http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

oleCC
04-06-2000, 10:19 PM
Thank you for sharing this lovely piece with us ! Critique ?? It is fine as it is - in my view... http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

cagathoc
04-06-2000, 10:46 PM
wonderful! the flowers are so alive and full of personality and the color is stunning... can't wait to see even more of your work!

------------------
Cindy Agathocleous

"What if imagination and art are not, as many of us might think, the frosting on life, but the fountainhead of human experience?" - Rollo May from The Courage to Create

RyderArt
04-07-2000, 07:39 AM
I agreee...not much to critique here...the painting is great...I really like the detail of the flowers with the undetailed background.
I can hardly wait to see more of your work..

Stephanie

sandyartist
04-07-2000, 09:14 AM
This is a lovely painting and the cobalt blue vase against the sunflowers is stunning..very provencal! While I am not a watercolorist, I am a long time still life veteran and here are the changes I would make: As I "squint" and look at the painting, it appears that the flowers are all the same value, none darker, none lighter and the whole grouping of blossoms lacks depth and volume..like there are no flowers in the back of the composition,,know what I mean? I also do not understand where the light is coming from..the front perhaps? The only definite shadows are under the petals on the table..maybe stonger shadows would clarify this..light strong enough to light the flowers this well would surely cast an equally strong shadow somewhere. Henrik is right about the regularity of the petals on the table, too "placed" and not accidental enough to feel natural, they also do not overlap in any way, giving them the feeling of being placed. The hard edge of the table top should be softened to give depth and distance. The painting has a fresh feel, colors are very good and I think the strengthening of the values would make this really pop...these are just small "tweakings" that would make the painting less flat and more dimensional. Hope this helps!

tgault
04-07-2000, 02:36 PM
I appreciate the input, thank you! Some of your remarks bring up some questions that I'd love to hear your opinions on. First, regarding the lack of value differences, you're right. What I visualized and planned for this painting was for the sense of depth to be handled more through variance in edge hardness/softness than value. I wanted flowers closest to the viewer to be sharp, while those further away would become increasingly blurred into the background. For the most part, I failed at the effect and didn't adjust my thinking to make up for it.
As for the placement of the petals on the table, I see what you're saying, but am not so sure I agree. Yes, they do look pretty deliberately placed, but I think that mimics the entire composition with the centered subject and the painstakingly arranged flowers in the vase (it took over an hour to get them like I wanted). So my question is, have I unwittingly created too contrived of a situation (add to this the lack of flowers on the backside of the arrangement), or does a painting like this have merit as a general expression of the subject rather than capturing a fleeting moment in time and place?
I've attached a more casual study of sunflowers that I did first... do you think it's better when you consider these comments?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/sunflower_study.jpg
Tim Gault

sandyartist
04-07-2000, 02:46 PM
Oh, Tim! Really like the second piece! Feels more natural, relaxed...mebbe on the first one you did what I often do...think myself into a corner. If the arranged petals were deliberately placed for an "effect" of design..guess it was lost on some of us..sorry. Edges alone will not make a painting..they are important, but value is where it's at and I don't see how you can escape that as a consideration..how 'bout trying the same compositions again, with suggested ideas, then see which comes off best..we can all learn from that..the second sunflower study really is a nice effort!!

tgault
04-07-2000, 03:02 PM
I guess I'd have to say I placed the petals more to avoid any distracting tangencies or pronounced geometric patterns than for a specific design effect. As for value, I'm learning more on the subject with each painting. But more related to landscape than still life, which are two very different matters. Are there any basic rules regarding value in still life painting that relate to visual depth that I should know about?

jazzm
04-10-2000, 07:54 PM
wonderful work..I love this piece ..you have given so much LIFE to this still life...I love your use of colour....two hours a day...great stuff..Jazzm

henrik
04-10-2000, 08:10 PM
Hi, yeah, second one looks more natural - but at the same time that is not neccesarily better in any way.

I also considered the missing variation in values; adding more values would probably change the overall feel.

On the arragement of the fallen petals; they do unfortunately create a pattern that jumps right at you even if this was something you tried to avoid.

msue
04-11-2000, 12:45 AM
Second post is a winner for me

oleCC
04-11-2000, 09:58 PM
Like I said, I loved the first one...but .. that second one grabbed me good! I hope to see more soon ! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

pixelscapes
04-12-2000, 11:54 AM
I liked both paintings, but I agree about the second one seeming more natural...

Also, one thing that struck me is that I REALLY like the velvety flower centers on the second painting... while the first one has bits of shine in there... I think that the contrast of the petals with highlights and a softer dark center is much better, in the second painting.

Of course, it's been so long since I've seen a real sunflower <sob> <WEEP> that I don't remember if they are really soft and dark in the middle, or if they have highlights like that. I'm probably thinking of black-eyed susans. Dunno. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

Oh, and, welcome to the community!

-=- Jen / Pixelscapes

dzspag
04-13-2000, 09:32 PM
tim..i like the first one..very bold and i love the bold use of color in watercolor..so many of them come out weak and pastel...but i love the second one..much fresher and spontaneous. i tried a watercolor of hydrangeas in a wc class once..tried to be so specific that it failed...came home and threw it away and began again from my memory and IMPRESSION of the hydrangeas i had seen. i was successful and sold three versions of that painting....it was like your second version...simplified and yet it captures the essence of the flower.

cagathoc
04-14-2000, 09:31 AM
The second painting is nice but the first painting has power.

Tim (tim,tim,tim) -


Some people are remarking that the first painting doens't look 3D enough and that it doesn't have enough value variation.

IMHO, this wasn't the point. The painting is a stunning combination of color and form. The shapes of the flowers are interesting and captivating. The bold contrast of the blue and yellow works well. It has power, impact and personality.

Frankly, I don't think more 3 dimensonality will add to that; might even take away some of the paintings symolic power.

I guess it depends on what you want to accomplish with the piece. If you want it to be as realistic as possible, well, then yes you should do the values thing and make it look more 3D.

On the other hand, if you are looking to create impact and beauty - you have already succeeded.


cindy

tgault
04-14-2000, 01:52 PM
I always prefer in watercolor to allow the realism of the subject to take second seat to the effects of the medium itself. If I painted an image that looked completely realistic -- with perfect value ranges -- and yet didn't allow the unique qualities of the medium itself to show, I'd personally consider such a painting to be a failure. The trick is finding the best balance of realism and style, subject and medium, 2D painting and 3D person/place/thing. I haven't found a balance that yet satisfies my artistic eye, but these discussions are making me take a hard look at this issue. Thanks to ALL for the feedback!

BTW- I broadened the value range of the first painting in Photoshop using the dodge and burn tools just to see what I'd get. Yes, it has a more real quality, but I don't necessarily like it better. If anyone's interested, I'll be glad to post it.

cagathoc
04-14-2000, 02:32 PM
Originally posted by tgault:
The trick is finding the best balance of realism and style, subject and medium, 2D painting and 3D person/place/thing.

BTW- I broadened the value range of the first painting in Photoshop using the dodge and burn tools just to see what I'd get. Yes, it has a more real quality, but I don't necessarily like it better. If anyone's interested, I'll be glad to post it.

Tim,

I'm wrestling with the exact same problem with my watercolors right now.

Please post your photoshop work up!

cindy

LarrySeiler
04-14-2000, 03:10 PM
I like that you put up the second one. One thing I like about the second one is that it projects the feeling of softness. I believe it is because your shadows between the pedals are minimized in the second image...but more strongly emphasized in the first.

Your shadowing of the green'age is also softer. I'm assuming you may have used black to shadow the leaves and stem in the first one, and I think it gave more a harsh feel. Had you used the color red to darken the green and model..it would have helped support the warmth of the leaves more. Also..green is a difficult color to work with and requires a great deal of attention.

I think to reinforce the idea of a direct light source, using more yellow/yellow-green on leaves and stems, some green for middle values, and then reds to darken green.

also...since blue and yellow make green, a hint of blue here and there off of the cool side of the shadow may have helped.

I too thought your first piece pretty good, however...the second one appears more natural, less harsh, and less over-worked.
Larry

tgault
04-14-2000, 04:45 PM
Cindy,
I'm at home today and the retouched image is on my computer at work (naughty me), so I'll have to post it on Monday.
Larry,
I don't use black in my palette, but you're right about the different feel between the two paintings. Of course, it took 3 hours to do the second and closer to 30 to do the first, so no wonder. Interestingly, I had a buyer who was considering/comparing both paintings... she took the study... hmmm... maybe I should think about that (he says as he moves into his second week of work on his current painting)!

shelewis
04-15-2000, 01:43 PM
I love both of these paintings the color of the first one is wonderful, so vivid!
The second one feels more loose, I can't decide which one I really like more, I like them both the same I think!! Keep posting!! wonderful work!!

Paula

tgault
04-17-2000, 04:48 PM
Cindy,
The retouched image, as promised. I'm sure Sandy could make this work beautifully, but here's my hack attempt at adding more value range in Photoshop.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/sunflowers-value-redo2.jpg

[This message has been edited by tgault (edited April 17, 2000).]

cagathoc
04-17-2000, 05:44 PM
Do you like it better now, Tim?


cindy

tgault
04-17-2000, 06:17 PM
Sort of, but I don't think it ties to the background anymore. The more realistic flowers make me want to paint a more realistic background, but I like the background as is. I'm planning on just leaving this one alone, but I'll certainly be more conscious of planning and rendering values from here on out.

Your opinion?

cagathoc
04-17-2000, 07:59 PM
I have some sort of visual impairment I guess http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif - I didn't think the first one looked flat. And, although I can see what you did in the second version, the difference to me is very, very subtle.

I prefer the first version. I think it would make a fantastic print or gicle (sp?).


cindy

tgault
04-17-2000, 08:18 PM
Cindy,
Taking the hairclub for men approach, I've reposted as a "before" and "after" for side-by-side comparison.
Sorry all,
I know this topic has gotten stale.

cagathoc
04-17-2000, 08:27 PM
Tim,

Thank you! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif I was flipping back and forth trying to compare; now I can see.

The difference is NOT subtle. Don't sacrifice that georgeous cobalt pot and the vibrant yellow of the flowers!

cindy

arlene
04-17-2000, 10:06 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/blue_vase_with_sunflowers13.jpg


One of the mistakes people make when rendering flowers, is thinking they have to shade and highlight every petal. Not necessary because the eye will fill in where the petals aren't well defined.
What I did was show how by deepening the lights and darks and removing some of the outlines, you can still get the feel of the sunflower and all it's petals. Same with the leaves. i used the dark blue from the vase in the flower centers and as small accents on the petals.
i also took out some of the petals on the table.

[This message has been edited by arlene (edited April 18, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by arlene (edited April 18, 2000).]