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Old 06-02-2000, 05:00 PM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Post Unique View of a Lake

This is a piece that might generate some discussion. I'm hoping that this "Composition" forum could become a second to the Critique forum in interest by members. A place to talk and think out loud.

I enjoy talking about my work as well as with others about theirs, and it is at times a bit odd to put a piece up on the "Critique Forum" to initiate discussion when one is not always necessarily looking for a critique. Maybe just a good discussion.

In this painting...I intentionally put the horizontal line low, and from the standpoint of perspective the eye nearer the water. It gives a more grand sense to the nearby island and trees as they appear to tower overhead.

My verticals of the pines and single birch tree are counterbalanced with the horizontal lines of the clouds in the distance and the reflective horizontal lines of the water at the bottom.

This painting is very close to my exodus from more tonalistic works related to my 20 years of wildlife painting having been painted in 1998, and I'm the first to notice how much more intense I have become in my use of color now. Though...there is a sense of stillness and calm I think this piece has that a more controlled color palette may have contributed.

Questions?? One thing is, study it from the standpoint of balance. Is this piece successfully balanced assymetrically, and if not...how is it that tension does not disturb the sense of peace and calm of the subject? Or...does it bother you?
Larry



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"Art attacks can skill!"


[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited June 02, 2000).]
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Old 06-02-2000, 05:29 PM
Rod
 
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The one part that bothers me is the vertical gap in the clouds ,it takes my eye straight out of the top of the painting.The lower horizontals steady my eye initially,
Rod
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Old 06-02-2000, 06:18 PM
llis llis is offline
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Larry: Question-- The trees to the right are leaning into the painting. When trees lean it is usually because they are searching for light, but there are no trees on the far right to block the light unless they were just recently cut or pushed by wind. Did you make the trees lean into the painting to try to make a balance? Just a question...and it does not bother me to distraction. It is a nice peaceful painting just as it is.

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[This message has been edited by llis (edited June 02, 2000).]
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Old 06-02-2000, 06:22 PM
loenart loenart is offline
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Since I don't know much about formal composition, I'll just express my observations about your painting. It seems to be a dicotomy of mood. The left, lighter and more peaceful with smaller masses and tranquil water. The right heavy and foreboding with the dark shoreline, dense trees, dark water and agitated brush strokes in the foliage of the trees. The mass on the right really evokes a heart of darkness feeling, especially juxaposed with the tranquil left.

I wouldn't change anything. It is heavier on the right but I like the effect. (Is the original lighter than this jpeg?) I reduced the painting to grayscale to concentrate on the shapes.



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Michael Loen
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Old 06-02-2000, 06:31 PM
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bruin70 bruin70 is offline
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i've never been a big believer in those types of "tension" that you seek. too much "mathematical" thinkwork. rather, i make the best use of object placement to get a point across. i'd never have thought of the horizontals in the sky and lake counterbalancing the tree verticals. and you'll note that everyone will see a different compositional flow than what you planned. so i leave composition to the discretion of the artist as a subjective element of the painting,,,,,like color. in any case, what i see is two elements fighting, with no victor. the horizontal, which is inherent to a landscape because the horizon is usually very prominent,,,,and your vertical trees. my resolution to the painting would be to either crop off the left and emphasize the TREES(not their VERTICALNESS), or lenghthen the horizontal. i prefer the later traditional method,,,,if for no other reason than because of the way you chose to view the trees. you cropped them off the top, and showed the background as very flat. this emphasized them jutting into the sky. i think showing more of the horizontal would emphasize that even more. in fact, showing more sky would do as well.....{M}





[This message has been edited by bruin70 (edited June 02, 2000).]
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Old 06-02-2000, 07:47 PM
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basia2 basia2 is offline
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Larry ..for me the trees are falling to the left side too much i think only one tree which will grow opossite dir.will help

- what about the reflections in the water (maybe except first tree from left side)-are they horizontal? b
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Old 06-03-2000, 12:09 AM
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paintfool paintfool is offline
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Personaly, i like the horizontal gap in the clouds. It's a sideways T composition. Even though it would be a serene place to visit, the mass of land from which the birches are growing appears as a surprise. Almost as an interuption. Not that that's a bad thing Larry, as i do like tis painting! I'm just trying to decide why this scene, when translated through paint makes me wonder what's on the other side of those trees. Cheryl
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Old 06-03-2000, 05:17 AM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Garsh...now that bugs me too Rod!

I liked it initially as I think it repeated some verticals, but now it comes out like a sore thumb! Thanks a lot! lol

Good point though! I'll have to look at that some more and see if it yet does what I thought I wanted it to, or is more a distraction! Good eye....!

Larry

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Old 06-03-2000, 05:25 AM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Hey llis! Nice to have you back...

Actually I think part of the charm of this lake as I was paddling around, was the lean of these tall trees. It was a small island that really does not extend much beyond the right side of the canvas. I think too, that the slight leaning is what for me gave me a bit more liberty in the balance end of it. Had the trees been straight up and down, I'm sure there would have been a great deal more tension.

Your observation of leaning trees is a good one. I think in this case, it must be that the wind crosses the lake in a more general direction, having done so since they were sapplings.

One of my past favorite lakes, with every turn of the head a painting to be done.

thanks....

Larry

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Old 06-03-2000, 05:32 AM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Hey Michael, thanks for the greyscale image. I like it...and when you can like a greyscale version that means the values came out fine.

The original is 22" x 28" and many more subtle colors than what this reduced version show exist, in the foilage especially.

I'm glad you have that vertical line in there. I think now...it a bit more obvious how the lean of the trees (llis..) draws the eye to direct attention subtlely to the left side of the canvas. This was sorta one of those more intuitive moments where it felt like it balanced to me...but at the time was not quite able to put a direct finger upon it. I think a combination of the lean, and that one pine in particular that has a branch that jutts out pointing to the left like a finger. Hhhhmmmm...

I enjoy this folks...thanks. Seems sometimes putting work on the Critique forum for more experienced painters may look to others like you're just seeking affirmation or a pat on the back. I feel more comfortable here thinkin' this stuff out loud with y'all. Thanks.

Larry

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Old 06-03-2000, 05:42 AM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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I find myself nodding my head as I'm reading your post Bruin! Very good stuff.

That everything seems to want to burst beyond the limitations of the size and shape of the canvas I have seems to me to have a bit more merit now reading your analysis. As a horizontal, I think we psychologically want to pan left and right and see more. What I've done gives it that window effect where we want to stick our head out and look around. Perhaps that too creates a kind of tension.

Makes me wonder if rather than any changes to this one canvas...if not one or two more paintings find themselves waiting in the making to possibly explore the themes you prescribe. I like both additional sketches you've made, and both give a different feeling.

I've read some artists disinterest in landscape painting because they say its all the same, but even little subtle compositional changes produce different feelings and responses. Subtleties that for some make all the difference. Sorta like guitar playing. Some complain all blues music sounds the same...but for those that love the guitar, they know that the style allows for improvisation where the player allows the instrument to sing out with character.

One listener tunes in and is quite entertained by all the diversity and unique directions the guitarist took it. Others hear what seems to amount to sound all the same.

thanks for taking the time with the sketches, very interesting to me...!!

Larry
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Old 06-03-2000, 06:00 AM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Basia..thanks for your input.

When I began to break away a bit from wildlife art...and into landscapes, it was a fresh and fun renewal, though I had to become more the student again rather than feel like I was in command.

For me...this is more personally apparent in my reserved use of color of this piece. It is in the doing and constant confrontation with nature that my own eye sees more now. Literally. Such awareness really points out how our lives and styles progress in time, and how a historian whom may know something of that progress in a particular artist's life can date one work and another.

The leaning of the trees in this situation was really Larry trusting nature and being more tutored. Every tree was leaning.

Part of me as the wildlife artist had learned to believe enough dignity existed in living created things that they would need no justification, no alterations for improvement. As such, it is easy for many wildlife artists to feel they are somewhat like reporters in the field.

Now...some 200-250 landscape paintings later, I feel I take less risks manipulating and making believable changes where I feel artistically it can enhance the painting. Here though...I think the subtle things nature was doing assured some success of the piece for me. Again...it might be interesting to do a separate piece making more manipulative adjustments, and see what "feeling" it would evoke.

Larry



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Old 06-03-2000, 06:11 AM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Cheryl-

Sometimes a compositional device doesn't make a work better or worse, but causes another human emotion to be evoked or impressed more. Thus, a change is not always right or wrong. I think sometimes we call a change "better" because it contributes to affirm a feeling we are working to touch in others...but oddly, to favor one mood or overall emotion is to abstain from others; more exclusive.

I agree...the vertical line in the cloud works for one reason...but thanks to Rod I can see taking it out would contribute to support other feelings, perhaps even stronger, I don't know. Will have to look at it for some time.

This piece was a favorite of the publisher Wild Wings, and earned me a spot in their Invitational Fall Festival with 51 other top notch world knowns a couple years ago. I'm not sure how much changing I'd like to make directly to this image in light of the sentimental value it carrys. However....the discussion here was very fruitful/educational for me. It was stretching to see various ways and themes that are possible and connect with others thinking out loud! Very cool....

Larry
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Old 06-03-2000, 06:17 AM
Rod
 
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Thanks Larry,
It's great to read your comments re our comments, very informative,
Rod
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Old 06-29-2000, 05:19 AM
kgrimm kgrimm is offline
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Larry, Just thinking out loud. Well the truth be told, I thought about this crit for a couple of days. Picasso once said that there comes a time in one's career when there is little point in changing a painting because the piece then just becomes another painting. So what do you do? You start another canvas. I feel when I look at your work the tension created there has to do with pleasure. I want to see more. I never really see glaring mistakes in your work. Sometimes I feel that any changes I might suggest are "nit picky" and not really necessary. When this happens I feel the artist has moved on to a different level and should be critiqued in a vastly different way. This is a form of compliment but also a scarier arena to enter into for some people. At this point critiques become less about technicalities and more about concepts in art. I happen to adore landscape painting and never seem to tire of it. I worked as an absract Expressionist for ten years. As those years went by my work became nonsubjective. Finally I burned out and returned to a former lover, "landscape painting." It is surprizing to me how these two ways of seeing and painting are alike.

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