View Full Version : novice needs advice!!
11-26-2002, 09:37 PM
I saw this great 'light box' article in WC and thought - let's try it. So, what I have here is my attempt at trying to create a still life with autumn leaves. I tried to suspend the top leaf at the Golden Mean. I was also trying to create a triangle in the composition. Can you kind folks please help me out? I would love all suggestions. Thanks.
I first want to do a graphite drawing with the end result(11X17) and then color somehow after that.
11-29-2002, 10:07 AM
The best way forward, to see if you have the makings of a composition, is to try a thumbnail sketch. A little rectangle, no bigger than about 3" on its longest side. Position your still life, work with both line and tone (value) in soft pencil or charcoal, and see how it works. It is one thing to set something up, but you are looking at a 3D set-up, and you need to see how it works 2D....ie, on paper. For instance - what will you do with the background? At the moment, it is just a lighter tone than the leaves, with the exception of a small dark shadow behind the top leaf, which, I suspect, was created by the flash of the camera. Are the negative shapes, between the leaves, and the edges of the rectangle, going to be interesting? Do the shapes and tones work to make a well-balanced composition? It is hard to see these things from your photo.
11-29-2002, 12:05 PM
Thanks Jackie for your comments. I did go ahead and do a drawing(I'm new to this and wished I had the foresight to just do a thumbnail like you suggested). Anyway, I am posting the results. I wanted the top leaf to be the focal point but something happened. I really can't see what it wrong but something is bugging me. I sure would appreciate your help. Also, I'm still pondering the background.
11-29-2002, 12:17 PM
whoops, didn't get it there. Here goes again.
11-29-2002, 01:11 PM
Hi Cindy nice work on your leaves....to make a good focal point you need one of several things....either contrast or color change are two ways I use to bring someones eye where I want....
11-29-2002, 01:51 PM
I really could use some help with your suggestion because before I posted this, I had the very back leaf very black, as it was in the most shadow and also the darkest leaf. However, when I then looked at the whole thing, that dark leaf was the first thing I saw. So, I lightened the top leaf and I still saw the very dark leaf first. AHHHHH. . .
11-29-2002, 01:53 PM
LOL well how about a darker shadow on the light leaf....thats how I make it work.
11-29-2002, 01:59 PM
OK Allan, I'll give it a try and thanks. Oh . . . to know more about this art stuff.
11-29-2002, 02:00 PM
patience it all takes time!!
11-29-2002, 05:03 PM
patience . . . ah, yes, I've heard of that word(lol). So, with apparent patience, I did a bit more to enhance the contrast. In real life, my top leaf pops quite nicely. But, is the shadow to big of a blob and uninteresting? I wanted the background to be rather informal. Comments? Thanks. I am posting this up-dated version.
11-30-2002, 03:06 AM
its looking better I would make the top shadow even darker....keep it broken on the edges just like the leaf..
11-30-2002, 03:20 AM
You have clearly worked really hard on those leaves, and they are well drawn. It is just the composition that isn't working too well. When you draw a picture, rather than an illustration for a book for instance, you have to consider the sides of the rectangle, and how the shapes of your drawing "fit" within the rectangle. The spaces between the objects, and the sides of the rectangle, are "negative shapes", and if you were to draw a line around the negative shapes in your image, you would have great big pieces of empty space.
I have cropped the picture for you, to a point where the edges of the rectangle impact on the shapes. The eye is drawn in to the leaves because of the proximity to these edges. Nothing too important is right up against an edge, but somehow, there is a tension by virtue of the closeness. Look at the stalk at the bottom right. It doesnt "come in" from the corner of the picture, but from a spot slightly above the corner, which is just right. It leads the eye in, and up around the leaves, until we reach the light leaf at the top, and can stop and enjoy that one, which is nicely different from the others.
Also, I have slightly darkened the dark leaf under the light one at the top, which increases the contrast between the two. Having so many different tones, from dark to light, on the surface of each leaf, is a little distracting, in my opinion. It always helps to screw up your eyes, in order to simplify these tones.
You may not like what I have done. This is OK too. It is your picture, after all, and my ideas are only MY ideas.
Hope this helps,
oh - also, I simplified the background - did not see the point of those box lines, they did not add to the composition which is all about echoing, curving forms ... and took out the line of the back of the box, which was also unnecessary, IMHO. And the lines of the string at the top of the leaves! Bit too literal! However, now I look at your pic again, I see that one of those lines was a stalk, and I would put that back in, although I might change the shape a little, perhaps curving it down and round, to bring the eye BACK to the leaves. Do wish one could have the picture on the same page when one types a reply.
11-30-2002, 10:50 AM
Thank you Alan and Jackie for all of your help.
Jackie, I do really like what you have done! Now when I look at the painting I don't get a nagging feeling of "something's wrong here". I will be using all of yours and Alan's suggestions. I'm trying to be a self-taught artist - there is so much to consider. I've read about it all, taken notes and yet when it comes to looking at my work it's as if all that I have read is gone. In this drawing, with your help I have learned so much. In doing it, I was so caught up in detail and the golden mean that I didn't even consider the other aspects that you mentioned. From all your help I think it would be wise for me to develop a check-list. #1 start with a thumbnail so all this can be figured out first(I just get too excited and want to get going-must change that!lol). Many, many thanks.
11-30-2002, 11:13 AM
The leaves as Jackie said are very well drawn, and I think she's correct in her assessment to darken the leaves, and soften the background...
however her crop I believe leads my eye to the lefthand side where there is totally blank space and nothing to counterbalance it and I have a hard time moving my eye back to the focal point. Also it puts the leaves dead center on the page.
I tried another crop. I didn't correct the darkness and background as Jackie had done a good job showing you.
11-30-2002, 12:05 PM
Nice one Arlene, makes a big difference having the right placement!
11-30-2002, 01:04 PM
It's interesting how we all see things so differently. To my eye, this new crop leaves a massive great open space on the right, which is certainly NOT counterbalanced by anything at all!!
Of course my crop was a compromise. When you have an L-shaped composition like this, there is always going to be a space on the left-hand side - and on the right - to deal with, however, what I was trying to do was to create a sense of tension between the edges of the rectangle and the objects/shapes within it. When you have objects "vignetted" in this way, it is difficult to achieve a happy balance. I don't have any problem getting around the set-up ... my eye follows the leaves down, and then is sent back to the light one by the curving shape of one of the bigger ones at the bottom.
At the end of the day, we could debate this incessantly, and it isn't always helpful. The artist must decide what feels comfortable to her eye. This set-up doesn't conform to hard and fast rules, and therefore instinct has to play a part. Sorry, but I cannot go along with Alan's comment about "the right placement". I am not at all sure about "right" and "wrong" in painting. Some rules are there to help ... but they are also there to be broken, and I have seen many a golden rule broken successfully. Sometimes, a so-called "wrong" placement just "looks right" !!!
With the next one you do, cindy, try a little thumbnail sketch first, and this might help. If you, too, feel that the space on the left is a little empty, you could always add another leaf, perhaps sitting slightly behind . But be warned. Every shape you add will change the balance, and every shape you are left with has to be looked at again in the light of the changes you make.
Also, you should know that although it is brilliant that you read and try to learn as much as you can, do not be surprised if you cannot always put what you learn into practice. I firmly believe that there is a kind of filter system, or dam, in our arm, between our brain, and our hand. We absorb knowledge intellectually ... but then it gets stuck at the filter until you are "ready" to use that information, in terms of experience. Then suddenly one day, it seems to just appear at your fingertips, and you can put that knowledge to work. Until that "ready" moment, however, you just have to forge on, doing the best you can, and practice, practice. You will produce lots of images you don't feel happy with, it's part of the whole business of learning. Finding out WHY you don't like something, is just as useful as understanding why you DO like something.
11-30-2002, 02:21 PM
Thanks Arlene, I like this one too!! I do have one question though. Jackie was concern about the one stem pointing to the corner. Would this still be a problem with your crop?
oops, didn't realize there was page 2
11-30-2002, 02:24 PM
Originally posted by jackiesimmonds
At the end of the day, we could debate this incessantly, and it isn't always helpful. The artist must decide what feels comfortable to her eye. ... Some rules are there to help ... but they are also there to be broken, and I have seen many a golden rule broken successfully. Sometimes, a so-called "wrong" placement just "looks right" !!!
11-30-2002, 05:41 PM
The tighter crops are fine, but perhaps makes the entire design a bit too matter of fact. I liked the ambience and it is to a degree lost in the tighter crop. (At the same time; I could very well have posted one of the tighter crop suggestions, but now that arlene has posted what I would probably have done, I have to do something different ;)
So I modified the format to be more horizontal, and then tried to create a balance between lower left and upper right. Now with more space the entire design has to become one instead of nicely arranged leaves surrounded by emptiness. The lower left darker "smudge" suggest piece/pieces of a leaf and serves as a lead in. The upper right wall needed some more horizontal movement; the division floor/wall is a strong horizontal, and there is a strong horizontal in the shadow (sort of a spike). So, I thought that a bit of horizontal counterpoint in the upper right could tie that area in better.
As you see very small and subtle changes can have quite a big effect. Of the changes I made I think the crop is perhaps the least important, if needed at all when the surroundings are there to create a whole.
11-30-2002, 07:06 PM
Henrik, I like those little marks on the ground, bottom left, they do lead the eye in a bit.
As I said before, it is all a matter of taste and personal judgement.
Now that all these crops and ideas have come forward, I cannot help but wonder..... why use the light box at all? ;)
11-30-2002, 08:25 PM
Jackie I do not just go by the rules but for someone starting out like Cindy I think its good to know the rules then you learn how to break them and still make it work....I am all for breaking the rules its something I teach all the time but I still teach the rules to all my new students.....then let them go try to break them and see what happens....its the only real way to learn, let your eye be the judge!
11-30-2002, 08:36 PM
Henrik, thank you for your time and suggestions. I like them too!!
Needless to say, I am overwhelmed with all of this information, teaching and CHOICES - but excited as well. As a novice, I can want to believe that there is only one choice (lazy maybe - but I think more just inexperienced). For you all to share your ideas and show me so much - I just couldn't ask for anything better. You are all teaching me how to see and perceive and demonstrating how changes can cause such effects. . . WOW! I so very much need this. THANK YOU !!!:clap: :clap:
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