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Old 07-05-2017, 09:40 AM
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Elainepsq Elainepsq is offline
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Waterfall composition

Hi, this is my first time in this forum, and I'm hoping to get some inside into something that has been bothering me.
I've been told I have a good sense of composition, but I painted this waterfall a few years ago (the vertical one), and after being in a show, and hanging in my house for a while, I'm bothered by the composition. It seems like the waterfall is taking the eye out of the painting..... exiting stage right so to speak.
Now I just completed this painting, and the same thing is bothering me. It's hard to photograph a waterfall straight on without getting wet, and this composition seems fine in the photograph, but it bothers me after I paint it.
Is it a bad composition? Should I stop painting waterfalls as seen from the side, or is there something I could do to help the composition? The obvious thing to me is to have the waterfall further to the right, so that 1, the white foam would not go right to the edge, and 2, in the case of the horizontal one, I had hoped the large rocks in the foreground would have balanced it out.
All CC's are welcome, discussion please!

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Old 07-05-2017, 10:04 AM
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Yorky Yorky is online now
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Re: Waterfall composition

I think the 45 degree view is best. Waterfalls can be boring straight on.

Doug
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Old 07-05-2017, 08:48 PM
TheLibrarian TheLibrarian is offline
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Re: Waterfall composition

Maybe like a rule of thumb is to not have figures walking off the picture with most of the page behind them it also makes sense not to have waterfalls flowing off the page in the same way. By moving it 'further to the right' i assume you mean move it to the left so it flows into the middle. Or do you mean the other waterfall coming in from the left in the first one? That could be moved right but may push the other one off the page.

Googling pics of waterfalls I see a lot going straight down. I see some starting on one or more sides and sloping into the middle. I see some starting in the middle and sloping outward both ways. I see almost none starting in the middle and going off the page one way or another tho and I see few to none coming in from off the side of the page. Many going straight down is common and doesn't look horrible may be boring and common I suppose.
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Old 07-09-2017, 04:52 PM
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Kathy1234 Kathy1234 is offline
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Re: Waterfall composition

I really like the number 1 waterfall. When I look at the painting my eye goes to the top of the fall, then down and to the left. It is at this point that I get confused with the water on the left. It appears that the water is lapping very high up on the rocks at the edge of the painting. This is what to me seems odd and stops me from looking higher to your wonderful tree line. Just hold you hand over the top half of the water on the left and it seems to help the flow. Your colours are wonderful. In waterfall number 2, I would take out the 2 rocks in the foreground and just continue with the water flowing to the left which is wonderful. My eyes seem to be fighting the rocks to see the waterfall. Thats just my take on it. These are more feelings as opposed to rules of composition. I like the 45 degree view too. Kathy
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Old 07-10-2017, 05:54 AM
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Re: Waterfall composition

I like both
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Old 07-10-2017, 12:36 PM
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Re: Waterfall composition

I love #1, but the white water on left is a distraction.. not needed competes w/ main focal.

#2 - the 2 large light color rocks in fg distract from the focal for me...maybe too many round shaped rocks also..
This one would be nicer if waterfall was more to the left.
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Last edited by ~JMW~ : 07-10-2017 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 07-21-2017, 09:47 AM
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SilverSwallow SilverSwallow is offline
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Re: Waterfall composition

In my experience, Composition is often thought of as something separate to value, and while the two are different, they are so closely intertwined, that you simply cant do one without thought to the other.

Composition is not difficult. Its essentially placing elements in a scene and leading the eye to them. Whats the story?, what do you want the viewer to see and how will you get them to focus on it.
Along the way you have to visually balance things out, but I have found that if you have a strong sense of value, you can create a far more compelling piece of art with simple composition.

The thing with photo's though is that the camera is simply recording whats in front, its up to you as an artist to interpret the scene and tell a story. So if it looks good in a camera and your not getting something similar in your paintings, its probably because of value.

Looking at your paintings, I would say the composition is fine, but you are really lacking in any real sense of form or lighting, in other words, value.
Check out James E Reynolds, one of my favourite landscape painters. The guy could handle any complex scene through a strong sense of value and composition. You can never go wrong to study others.
I know this might seem like a long way round to get you what you want, but honestly there is no other way if you want to get better. Just keep at it, keep the study going. If you enjoy waterfalls, keep painting and doing what brings you happiness. best of luck.

Edit: I done up an example to give you a visual idea of what I am blabbering about, using a quick sketch and then a thumbnail of value only. This is the normal way I work. I Get an idea, quick sketch, and then explore value options until I find something I can work with or fits the brief. Thumbnails take about 10 mins or less, and I usually do around 15 before I commit to something. You should try to do the same before starting to paint. Hopefully you see that value is integral to composition.
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Last edited by SilverSwallow : 07-21-2017 at 10:33 AM.
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