View Full Version : Mike's sunset

05-14-2011, 12:49 PM
It's been nearly 6 months since I painted anything, and I've been missing it, so I decided to try this one. It's based on a photo my cousin's son took, and I've been wanting to try painting it since last summer, so here it is.


I discovered the problems with using a photo taken by someone else...the foreground in the photo was too dark to tell what was there, and I had no idea! Also, I moved the pilings over because they were blocking most of the reflections in the photo, and I wanted to lead into them instead of blocking them...this might have been a mistake, but it was a compositional decision (and I'm not real good at composition!). This left me with an area on the right that I had no idea what was there, other than a vague indication that there were more pilings. So I assumed a jetty of some sort, and went with that.

I'm not happy with it...I think the water is too dark. I may try it again larger to try to resolve some the issues I had trouble with.

Comments and critiques are welcome...

Marty C
05-14-2011, 08:32 PM
Very good effort, Lea.

Compositionally, if you want to add in pylons such as this, it's a good opportunity to use the pylons as a visual guide, leading the eye to the focal point (the bright reflection on the water.) So, in this case, breaking one compositional rule, you could place the bright reflection in the centre, and frame it with the pylons, creating a visual path to the focal point. Remember, photos are a reference, we can move things and change things to improve composition and the painting overall.

As for the water, bear in mind that water reflects, in this case the sky. The reflection is darker than the object being reflected due to absorption and scatter of photons, but usually not more than two or three value steps. The reason the foreground is so dark in the photo is that the camera is compensating for the bright light source, adjusting aperture for that, resulting in darker objects being too dark. Our eye compensate, and we would see that water as much lighter.

05-15-2011, 06:04 AM
Lovely work Lea .....it is warm and inviting.... :thumbsup: ....and what great advice from our expert Marty! :thumbsup:

05-15-2011, 06:05 AM
good work overall. the pilings place your vanishing point about at the center of the horizon (which is fine), which means the station point (where the "viewer" is standing) is also at center (at an imaginary point in front of the picture plane). reflections always follow a straight line from the object to the observer (i.e., the station point)...which your reflections would place at about 2/3 left of center.

this creates a dissonance, whether or not the viewer knows quite 'why'.

05-15-2011, 02:07 PM
That's what I get for using a photo I didn't take as the reference! I did move the pilings, but didn't move the reflections over enough to compensate. Thanks Randall for the explanation of what went wrong there.

And thanks Marty for the explanation of how much darker the water reflections should be, as opposed to how dark I made them!!! I just knew the water was too dark. As for the foreground, I knew that was too dark too, but since I didn't take the photo, I didn't know what was there to put it in! Guess I should stick to my own photos for a while, unless I'm very familiar with the scene, or am not making any changes to it!

And thanks Anne, for finding the good in it! You're always so encouraging that way!

05-15-2011, 03:25 PM

05-15-2011, 11:47 PM
Sometimes we impress everyone but ourselves. I imagine magicians feel the same. Lovely painting and great color!

05-16-2011, 09:21 AM
Thanks Brian and Dominic! I can see all the flaws in it, of course, some of which show up more in the photo than in the actual piece.

Another reason why I may have had so much trouble with this one is that when I paint from photographs, I usually display the photo on my computer monitor...the light coming through the photo that way gives more detail in the darker areas, although not as good as seeing with your own eyes. But that might have helped me some. Unfortunately, I trashed my studio computer, so I had to work from a printed photo. Can't wait to get the new setup--I'm going to try using an iPad hooked up to the monitor to view the photos.

05-16-2011, 01:15 PM
I think you have received great advices from Marty and Randall.
I have a small nitpick, I think yours pylons are too mirror side left-right, but apart from that, you got
great colors and values, works just fine for me with this dramatic lighting!
Great work Lea!

05-16-2011, 07:16 PM
I really like what you have done here and you have had some good pointers. I find it is important to remember with sunsets that the strongest light will be normally where the sun is or closest points to it and reflections will pick this up too. Hope that makes sense.

05-17-2011, 10:05 AM
Thanks Richard and PrimaryColors. Your comments make perfect sense. If I redo the painting, I will have to remember all of the comments, and make changes accordingly.

05-18-2011, 05:01 AM
Plenty of drama Lea in your sunset painting, it has alot of strength in the colours you are using to give the painting plenty of impact. I do hope you post the changes if you decide to go ahead with that it would be interesting to see how the painting looks then. I am wondering what size the work is as it is going to look very dramatic if you choose the right frame for this. It may be that you want to make the alterations but sometimes starting afresh can be a good idea. It can be difficult to make changes as once you start on one part it can change how the rest of the painting looks. After your break away from painting you will be refreshed from the break and I hope to see some new work of yours here soon.

05-20-2011, 01:28 PM
This is a 9x12" painting, oil on gessobord. I'm thinking of trying to start from scratch on a larger format. I haven't decided if I want to repaint the same scene, or try one of the other photos that only includes sky and sea. I'm afraid the sky and sea only design would be boring...

05-24-2011, 01:53 AM
Lovely sunset Lea well done

05-24-2011, 10:07 AM
This is quite dramatic with its very dark values. I think it would make a very impressive larger painting with some minor adjustments to the right center. Can't tell whats going on over there, but it draws me away from the beautiful sunset and water.

05-27-2011, 02:22 PM
Thanks Robert and Ron. I agree that the right center is very confusing. I was confused...and it shows!!!

06-27-2011, 01:05 AM
try to hook up the computer to the TV so you get a bigger image. need a good tv to show the colors right. just an idea i working on myself.

06-27-2011, 01:22 PM
Jocko, I usually display the photo on my computer monitor, which is a flat panel, although not as large as a TV, but my studio computer was not working when I did this, so I just worked from the printed photo. Not nearly as good for color, and no ability to zoom in as you can on the computer.

I bought an iPad to replace the studio computer, and I'm hoping I'll be able to use it as a remote desktop to my full computer, or at least use it to display the photos. Haven't tried it yet though.

06-27-2011, 02:35 PM
oh. i got a flat TV lol.

06-28-2011, 06:15 PM
Lea, I think this is a lovely painting and you are being way too hard on yourself! The point of interest is where the sun is dipping below the horizon and I think you have captured that perfectly - super sky and cloud formation - and great sea and sunset. As to what's going on on the jetty, it isn't that important when you have such a strong focal point elsewhere. That's not to say that Marty and everyone haven't given you great advice - just that the painting is still more than OK despite it's flaws!

06-29-2011, 08:17 AM
Thank you so much Sarah! I get a lot of compliments on it, but since all I seem to be able to focus on is the flaws, I tend to discount them. But you give enough details to make me believe. So thank you.

I'm giving the painting to my cousin, whose son took the photo I worked from. It will mean more to her because of that. She and her son were both pretty excited that I painted from that photo. In fact, when I told him I was planning to give her the painting, he commented that he planned to steal it from her....LoL