View Full Version : Need help with lemon composition
12-10-2002, 06:13 PM
Hi, how does this composition look? Any glaring errors? I want to do an oil painting and I have been moving these lemons around too long already. Lorijo
12-10-2002, 06:50 PM
I think it looks great.
There is unity but still variety. No obvious off-canvas pulling stuff.
If anything, I would perhaps think about enlarging the image area so that the design does not fit so perfectly within the frame. Enlarging the surrounding area would also give room for creating more "air" or "ambiance" and perhaps also some additional green leaves (pulled off, or smaller pieces) to balance the single green leaf.
But, you can always paint several different versions. This is still great. Those lemons are really cool looking.
12-10-2002, 08:50 PM
Thanks Henrik! I will give it some more "air around it." I am sure glad you saw that, now if I can do it justice with the paint! I probably will do at least one more, I took a bunch of photos, here is one I was considering:
12-11-2002, 12:48 PM
For whatever it is worth (because personal opinions are subjective, not objective and can therefore be ignored), I feel that the first set-up is a bit "pedestrian" and particularly with those stalks, both sticking straight up in the air.
Now the second one is a different thing all together. All those lovely echoing curves - the leaves, the handle of the squeezeer, and its foot, and the curving forms of the mug. Just beautiful. And the lemon stalks are nicely varied in their positions too. I think this one has the makings of a lovely image.
12-11-2002, 01:24 PM
Thanks Jackie, I like them both and I think I will paint them both. I did figure on adding a leaf or two to the first image and also change the length and direction of the stems too. What do you think of the cutting board on the bottom left, where the lemon appears to be teetering on the edge? I don't know if it bothers me or not. Lorijo
12-11-2002, 05:03 PM
I agree with jackie about the second one.
12-11-2002, 09:18 PM
I like the second one, but again would perhaps like a bit more air... Played with it a little to show what I mean,,, but the added areas need more work. You need some more blue in there too I think...
12-11-2002, 09:37 PM
for once i disagree henrik...your version plops the items in the middle of the canvas and takes away the "edginess" of the piece...
12-12-2002, 09:48 AM
Arlene, you are right, as I said more work is needed. I have been looking at Leffel's work recently and it struck me how different the close crop is from something with more air. But to avoid the "plopped in the middle" feeling there needs to be a nice lead in, a connection with the "empty space" that is subtle. Without it the surrounding matter just becomes empty and you can just as well crop it. I guess what I am saying is that if pulled off it can be very rewarding.
In this piece I think the feeling of missing air has to do with the tight arrangement; all objects interconnect almost into one closed shape. Then with a close crop it appears to me like when doing a closly cropped portrait showing only and exactly only the head.
12-12-2002, 10:51 AM
What do you think of this? I moved the two lemons to the left and added some leaves. Trimmed the bottom too a bit. Lorijo
12-12-2002, 11:08 AM
Hm, there is something about the strong circluar shape - just widening it did not improve - it just created a bigger hole in the middle... Something is needed to allow the eye to escape; I don't know if the handles pointing to the right are enough. The knife at the bottom enforces the circle.
12-12-2002, 11:48 AM
We must not let the viewer escape, his eye must remain on my picture! :evil: Hehehe! How about rolling the knife so the curve is the other way and tipping the leftmost leaf to a more vertical position? Lorijo
12-12-2002, 12:10 PM
i always remember a tutor of mine telling me that if a picture is entirely "about curves", the eye revolves around and around and never finds a place to rest. If curves dominate, that's fine, but you also need some straight edges to halt the spiralling movement.
I think the edges of the cutting board could be useful in this respetc. It doesn' matter if the lemon is overlapping the edge - I think that's fine, it breaks the line slightly. However, losing the board means that your arrangement is one made up almost entirely of curving forms ... and the composition will lose power if all you have is a whirlpool in the centre of the canvas.
As for image No. 1, why not simply shift one of the lemons so that the stalk is pointing downwards ... I would turn the one on the left, so that the stalk is a lead-in from the left hand edge of the composition. I'd also use some artistic licence, and curve it slightly.
12-12-2002, 12:16 PM
Sounds good Jackie, I will try that. Does composing a painting ever get easy? Lorijo
12-13-2002, 02:07 AM
No, it is never easy. It just gets easier, the more you paint, and the more you learn. Also, it is MUCH easier to see what is happening with someone else's work than with your own!!!
Why not try a value sketch, perhaps using charcoal, to see exactly how the image translates into two dimensions? It helps you to consider "shapes" within the rectangle, the negative shapes as well as the positive shapes, and also the lost and found nature of the "edges". Doing value sketches makes you think, and feel differently, and you may discover stuff that hadn't occured to you while looking at the photos.
Incidentally, I love those nubbly lemons. Mosst lemons I find in our supermarkets are far more smooth. Did you grow these yourself? They are great - so characterful.
12-13-2002, 10:51 AM
Thanks Jackie, I will do that. That is so true, its easier to see what is going on with someone else's work other than your own. You know something is "off" but can't always see what it is or what to do.
The lemons are called Ponderosa lemons, its a very old variety here in Florida. They can get very big, and some people say they are the original lemons. You don't see them in stores here either, they are from my tree which has been there around 50 years. They make nice pies and lemonade and smell super when you pick them. Lorijo
12-15-2002, 10:59 AM
I think that the remarks I just read were about the most wise, accurate, to the point and informed group of remarks I've ever read at Wetcanvas. Ah, that there should be more of this...
12-15-2002, 11:54 AM
I think so too Timothy, I love your work by the way, I have visited your website a number of times. I am so glad that Wetcanvas is here for us, it has been a great help to me and I can see my work improving. Here is my painting of the first lemons, I will try the next one as well, after some sketches! I am not sure if this is done yet or not, I am pretty happy with it so far. Lorijo
12-15-2002, 02:32 PM
If that cropped little pink floral is your work,& I think it is, then you uderstand shapes and composition pretty well- I think that image is awesome. It's one of my favorites'.
12-15-2002, 03:54 PM
No Timothy, it isn't mine, it was in the Wet Canvas selection. I do like it too though. I even have a hibiscus bush with the same kind of pink flowers on it. I have a terrible time with composition! I can usually tell when someone else has a nice composition, but my stuff is a different story. Lorijo
12-15-2002, 05:30 PM
Looking good. I would reconsider the diagonals in the foreground - to me it looks like those nubby lemons are about to embark on a rolling journey to our right.
The blue in the mug could be echoed in shadows and perhaps elsewhere to unite. You may also want to echo the nubbiness of the lemons somewhere - again to unite another design element.
Attached is a suggestion (I hope you don't mind me editing your painting - I will remove it if you say so). In the edited version I modified the diagonals, and alterned the foreground to more of a fabric feel with a blue red pattern - that way you can get some horizontals, and get both blue and nubbiness at the same time...
Well, just an idea anyway.
12-15-2002, 06:08 PM
Of course I don't mind! I might not do everything you say though!:D It does look like the lemons are rolling off the cutting board, especially on the computer. I am not sure I want to change it or not, I will think some more on it. I do want to put a bit of blue in the background. Thanks so much, Lorijo
12-15-2002, 06:12 PM
Originally posted by Lorijo
Of course I don't mind! I might not do everything you say though!:D
That would be scary LOL - it is just illustration...
01-08-2003, 10:20 AM
You might have some ideas of your own to try, but do adjust those diagonal lines ...they really make it look like the lemons are about to depart!
something else you might like to consider, food for thought, if you will excuse the pun! while you are thinking further.
It is about the colour choices you have made.
"lemon" is a difficult colour to work with, and on a very personal note, I don't feel that you are doing those lovely lemons justice, with the colours surrounding them. Acid lemon doesn't sit well, to my eye, with warm browns. Now, jjust imagine for a moment - if you had been painting tangerines, that would be a very different matter. You could have a wonderful image based on "colour harmonies" - (colours close to each other on the colour wheel) - orange, warm orangey-brown, and brown - with a tiny touch of orange's complementary colour - blue - on the jug.
Those Acid yellows would look great contrasted with greys, purples and purple blues - colours which fall into the category of "complementary colours" (colours on the opposite side of the colour wheel). Or, for colour harmony, you could put the acid yellows together with yellow-greens, greens and green-blues.
Using the rules of colour in this way is, I find, SO helpful. I think you have painted the lemons so nicely, that it is rather a shame that the colour isn't singing in any way - in my opinion, that is!! As I have often said - please feel free to ingore me!!!
01-08-2003, 11:04 AM
Thanks Jackie, I will at least do something about the diagonals. I like the colors as they are, I think it looks better and more harmonious in real life than on the computer screen. Years ago, oh my gosh probably at least 30! I did a pastel of the same jug with tangerines, I have no idea what the background looked like, I did like how it came out. I haven't followed the rules of color too much, I try to duplicate what is in nature generally. I have always thought of browns, greys, blacks and whites are neutrals, (I think I was taught that in college.) That they should go with anything. I just took that as true and never gave it a thought. Now you are making me wonder, which is no doubt good! :) Lorijo
01-08-2003, 12:15 PM
You are partially right, black and white tend to be neutral, and grey too, when it is a mix of black and white. Then, the grey will work and integrate with the other colours in the picture. However, the minute a grey contains a colour, - green grey, or blue grey, or brown grey, it is no longer strictly a neutral, it is a "tertiary" colour, and it behaves quite differently in the picture. Brown therefore also falls into the category of a "tertiary" colour, as it contains so much orange or red. These tertiary colours do not always integrate with the other colours in the picture, they have their own character.
If you like the colours in your set-up, that is absolutely fine, do go ahead and use them. If the lemons are sitting on a wooden board of some kind, however, you can still nudge the brown towards more of a grey-brown, rather than a warm pinky brown, which I feel doesn't work particularly well IN YOUR PICTURE with the acid lemons - IMHO they aren't adding anything to each other. However, perhaps you disagree - colour is very subjective, and everyone must paint exactly what they want to paint, and enjoy colour as they choose.
I firmly believe that it does help, however, to think of the colour rules sometimes, and perhaps with the next still life you tackle, you could take this on board and see if you find it helps at all. If want to use neutrals, it is best to make sure that the neutrals you use come from the same colour family as the primary you are using - or from its complementary colour.
Just for fun - and to see what you think too - here is my "adjusted" version of your pic! Please forgive me for this, but sometimes pictures speak louder than words. I have changed the board for a cloth with folds, which bring the eye into the picture. I have used dots, in a pointilist sort of way, to echo the nubbiness of the lemons. I am not very good with a digital paintbrush, but I hope it sort of shows my thoughts about a) texture and b) colour and c) composition. Feel free to let me know if you loathe it, object to it, and want me to remove it from the thread!
01-08-2003, 12:49 PM
I don't mind at all, I love seeing what other people do with the same subject. I like the folds in your cloth, but I don't like the little yellow dots. I like my colors better too. Like you said, color is very subjective and we all see it a bit different. I checked out your website and I love your pastel paintings, your colors go together very nice on them. I may do what you said about making the board more of a gray-brown, sort of a driftwood color. Lorijo
01-09-2003, 04:38 AM
Driftwood colour sounds lovely. I look forward to seeing the finished result. It is great that you like your own colours, everyone should, it is good to be clear about what you like and what you do not like, helps enormously, much better than dithering around.
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