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Old 04-30-2012, 06:47 PM
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Ian Bruce Ian Bruce is offline
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Advice needed

11"x14", oil on canvas. Unfortunately, my camera is not getting the color right--to high a chroma and killing the greys. Perhaps you can see enough to make suggestions.

I realize that the background needs to be knocked back a bit but I don't quite know how. The background colors are a bit pastel, due to the white I added, trying to simulate the back-lit humid almost hazy air. It has been suggested that I "grey everything" and get rid of the yellows. I don't quited know how to do that. Perhaps, if the buildings were more abstracted they would be less intrusive--lose the windows, maybe?

I kind of half-like this painting but something is seriously wrong.

Comments welcome.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:00 PM
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Re: Advice needed

HI Ian,
Wow, you are making some killer work lately!
This piece has a real divide of foreground and background as it is.

When I think about backlit, I always think that introducing the sky color into the colors of the background. I'm sort of thinking of the way that Sovek explains graduating the scene, based on where the sun is, so there would be more yellows and prismatic warm stuff to the right of your painting, in the background. Like imagine when the sun is setting and it's right at the horizon, the sun just eats up that part with yellow and orange and warm and cool red. Obviously, it wouldn't be that intense of an effect in this situation, but it's always good to think to yourself, "what might Sovek do?"
I'm pretty sure you are familiar with the book and the concept, but I'd be afraid to do anything else with such a sweet piece!

Kyle
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:01 PM
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Re: Advice needed

P.S. I know how hard this is, when you are going for value work as well!
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:25 PM
Lauraart Lauraart is offline
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Re: Advice needed

Hi Ian,
Very nice work! I rather like the background and think that it has just the right amount of gray. I'd raise the values slightly on the houses to pull them into the middle ground. A few brush strokes should do the trick and then I'd call this done!
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:58 AM
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Re: Advice needed

I don't know a lot about painting but I know what I like and I truly like this. Maybe I can help even with my scant knowledge. I'm a photographer and I've done such odd things as flower arranging. This may not seem to have much to do with your painting but the number three comes to mind. Three is always a great number to have in anything. Nature has odd numbers, photos do better with three (or another odd number) worked into them.

Three in your painting would be three levels. (Don't worry about my lack of words. After all these years I still call the aperture on the camera "the little number" Right now you have two. The foreground and the background.

I love your little buildings but I can't see them very well. If you made them the 'in-between' level it might bring harmony back into your painting (3 levels). Which, incidentally, is what Lauraart just said
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:34 AM
jmmur jmmur is offline
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Re: Advice needed

Hi Ian,

I tried a very quick Photoshop job on it. Right photo below.

I actually darkened the background, added some sky holes, lightened the shoreline. Tried to warm up the right side as Kyle suggested and darkened the near sides of the boats.

My 2 cents, does it help??

John


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Old 05-01-2012, 10:03 AM
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Re: Advice needed

Kyle is on the right track. Make the sky a lot warmer and then get some of that warmth into the background trees too - that will mean less value contrast, but that is how the eye sees when looking at a backlit scene (if you just go for value contrast, it will look like a photo). And make the effect strongest on the right where the sun is.

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Old 05-01-2012, 11:24 AM
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William Moore William Moore is offline
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Re: Advice needed

Ian,
I see this painting divided into two almost equally proportioned paintings, one a seascape (bottom half) and one a landscape (top half).

I'm not sure I understand exactly what your intent ( trying to simulate the back-lit humid almost hazy air) is. I see the bottom half (seascape) painted in a high key much like the impressionist. It appears to be a bright day with the light coming from the left, indicated by the light on the left side of the boat and the left side of the building on the right. The lighting to the top (landscape) does appear to be back-lit with the exception of the side light on the left side of the building on the right. The seascape is painted in predominately cool colors, where the top (landscape) is painted in warm gray colors. The two halves don't seem to integrate as one.

"I kind of half-like this painting but something is seriously wrong."
Maybe having a composition with two different paintings is the seriously wrong. Maybe the half-like is that you like one half and not the other. From the picture provided, I personally like the bottom with about 3/8 inch (on monitor) of the building bottoms showing. I realize that I haven't given a comment that would help you with your intent, you might attempt to get one consistent light source that aids your intent. You might try to get more cool color into the top and more warm color into the bottom to integrate the two halves. I don't think the yellow (middle and background) works for aerial perspective or intent of humidity. I think you have enough buildings without the one above the boat. The building and boat form a tangent that creates a confusing space relationship.

I guess the shorter version is I think you have two paintings and you need to chose one and paint the other similarly. I also think that having a foreground, middle ground ( buildings and a few trees) and background (smaller and cooler gray trees) would help.
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Last edited by William Moore : 05-01-2012 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:57 PM
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Re: Advice needed

Here's what I would do (note that I'm not nearly as good as you, however I have the magic of photoshop )
I took one of the blues in the water, paled it and put a wash over the back hills, the furthest was a more opaque wash to push it further, the closer hills was a more transparent wash. Using the color from the water in the hills ties the two parts together.

Nice painting btw.

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Old 05-01-2012, 06:19 PM
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Re: Advice needed

What a good load of responses!

Hi, Kyle, when are you coming to Maine again? Dan Corey and I were painting together when I did this one. Raquelle was there too, being very patient.

I guess that I had better explain the scene as I saw it. The back lighting was pretty total. The sun was located just to the right of center. Those are not lit surfaces on the left hand side of the boats and the house--just a lighter value of shadow. Those surfaces are picking up reflected light from the ground and water while the other sides are orientated towards the darkest cast shadow and so picking up no reflected light. I guess I must have used too great a value range there. The sun was still high enough that there was no sunset coloration. The sky was pretty white. I think one of my mistakes was looking too hard at the background. I believe that if I had just looked at the boat and let the background only appear in my peripheral vision, I would have painted the entire background darker with less contrast. It's the old problem--stare into the shadow and the shadow becomes brighter as your eyes adjust and you see all sorts of color and detail in the shadow that you would not see if you were staring at the main focal point.

John, your photo-shopped version looks a lot more like the painting than my own photo! I like the sky-holes and what you did to the water line.

Will, you are right about the two paintings in one. I once saw a large painting in a gallery near here that could have been cropped to produce five separate paintings--three of which would have been superior to the painting as a whole. Here are two crops of this one:




Are they both better than the original?

Libby, I like your photo-shopped version too. It is a lot less like the scene I was looking at--but better as a painting.

Thanks for the comments, everyone--that was very helpful and educational.

Now I will just have to see what I can do!
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:12 PM
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Re: Advice needed

Hi Ian...

Quote:

I guess the shorter version is I think you have two paintings and you need to chose one and paint the other similarly. I also think that having a foreground, middle ground ( buildings and a few trees) and background (smaller and cooler gray trees) would help.

I agree with Will and share his thoughts on the two paintings within one.

In your painting, Ian, my bias is with the forground and middle ground portion.
(I hope that you do not mind. ) With that in mind, I have tried in my interpretation of your painting,
to marry the two halves.



Hmmm...Not sure how successful it was, but hope that it gives an idea.

Hey, Thanks for the fun.

Frank..
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:21 PM
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Ian Bruce Ian Bruce is offline
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Re: Advice needed

Wow, Frank--that really makes it fly! I wasn't quite getting what Will meant but you seem to have illustrated it perfectly.

I really need to learn a lot more about this sort of thing. Usually, I don't work on a plein aire painting after I get home--it either works or it doesn't. I think that need to work on fixing paintings. If I can discover what went wrong--I can learn how to avoid the same pit-falls in the future.

Thanks for going to all the trouble of photo-shopping the painting. That was extremely helpful!

Thank you, everyone!
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Old 05-02-2012, 04:20 AM
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Re: Advice needed

Hi Ian. I did a quick photoshop job on your painting to better explain what I meant (I think that's what Kyle had in mind too).




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Old 05-02-2012, 12:16 PM
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Re: Advice needed

Ian,
I don't think it is important that you try to save this painting. I've heard it said many times that mistakes are our opportunity to learn. I think you have probably learned a valuable lesson: The danger of looking too long into shadows is that we are likely to start painting somethings in the light family and not in the shadow family of value. "I think one of my mistakes was looking too hard at the background. I believe that if I had just looked at the boat and let the background only appear in my peripheral vision"

A very good lesson for us all to remember.

Thanks for your later post, it better explains your motif and your intent:

"I guess that I had better explain the scene as I saw it. The back lighting was pretty total. The sun was located just to the right of center. Those are not lit surfaces on the left hand side of the boats and the house--just a lighter value of shadow. Those surfaces are picking up reflected light from the ground and water while the other sides are orientated towards the darkest cast shadow and so picking up no reflected light. I guess I must have used too great a value range there. The sun was still high enough that there was no sunset coloration. The sky was pretty white."

You said: "I realize that the background needs to be knocked back a bit but I don't quite know how."

I don't really know the fine points of painting in photoshop. Better understanding your motif and intent,now, I made this feeble attempt to maybe visualize your problem and a possible solution in the studio.

In photoshop, I used a 25% color taken from the rear of the boat and went over the land a couple times like a wash/glaze. In the studio with painting dry, you could use a transparent glaze to knock it back into the shadow value. I also attempted to make rim light around the edge of trees to possibly help the back lit effect.

The real lesson here for painting on location like you stated is not to look to long into the shadows. The danger being is our eyes will adjust and we see value lighter than it is. We need to keep values in the shadow completely separate from the value in the light. Don't let either migrate into the other.

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Old 05-02-2012, 06:54 PM
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Re: Advice needed

Thanks Michael--I think that that was probably what Kyle had in mind. I can sort of visualize now what he might have done with his very distinctive use of color. He would have made it sing!

Will, you definitely adjusted the photo in the right direction to get the effect that I was after--what I was actually seeing.

I get thrown by this problem repeatedly. I love colorful darks but it is damn difficult to maintain a wide value range and have color in the shadows. I also love painting contra jour and that usually requires a wide value range.

Painting that kind of subject seems to land you with the problem that plagues the camera so often. As with the camera--if you want color in your lights, your shadows are going to be pretty dead. If you want color in your darks, your lights are going to be pretty white and bleached out. With painting this is only a problem when you need that extremely wide value range.

Incidentally, it seems that photography may have defeated that problem recently, (another blow to painting). Apparently, the i-phone camera has a feature that, when set, takes two shots almost instantaneously, one over-exposed and one under-exposed, and digitally combines the images in such a way that both the lights and the darks retain good color. Makes for a good photo to paint from if you are into that.

Thank you for the help, everyone--and I hope that this thread has proved as educational to others as it has to me.
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