|Chesterman Beach reference photo
Received some interesting questions on this blog following my Opus demo on Saturday. Instead of replying directly to one comment/questions I decided to share the answer on the blog so others that were present could share in the answer.
Brian, your Saturday workshop was informative and inspiring. A pleasure to attend. At the end of the workshop you expressed that you weren't particularly happy with the final outcome - (which most of us thought was pretty good). Earlier in your presentation you touched on how you would go about evaluating the success of a piece - by checking against your personal "checklist". I meant to ask you to explain a little about why you were not pleased with the piece. Can you elaborate a bit on what you thought was the problem with the piece? It would be most helpful to understand your view.
Thanks again for the very worthwhile and enjoyable workshop.
A short and simplistic answer is that demos have a time limit - and paintings don't.
The painting from this demo was developed to the stage where most paintings enter a difficult ( I used a different word in the demo) stage. If stopped at this point the painting has not reached its potential. And that was my point – we ended at an unfinished stage. Its not that I was unhappy with it (knowing that it could be carried towards an acceptable finish) – but I was unhappy having to leave it at that stage for the demo and those beginner painters thinking that was it - finished.
So the question was - what would I do with it now to take it to a finish. I wish I had taken a photo so that I could discuss this painting specifically. I don't, so the answer has to be general in nature.
To progress with a painting you need some idea of where you want to take it - or at least what the possibilities are. I am a “what if “ painter with acrylics – I tend to make changes to see if I am happy and change again if not. I know from experience that I can go back and forth and find my way out.
I had a problem assessing the painting at the Demo. To evaluate a painting I need to get back about 10 ft. Particularly recently, when I developed problems in one eye, I have had trouble evaluating up close. So that is the first step for me. Getting back from it to consider “the big picture”. I normally stand when painting and am constantly walking back to evaluate.
Then I start to go through my self-critique check list which I pretty much have in my head now. I don’t want to go through it all on the blog– but I encourage others to organize their thoughts for reviewing their work.
It starts simply – why did I paint this piece? What is it about – ie the center of interest. Have I placed it correctly and guided the viewer towards it. In this case it was the west coast tree. Did I do all I could to make it strong? Did it scream – west coast? The tree at that point needed to be stronger. Too cut up with sky holes, could have leaned more ( exaggerate reality for emphasis), etc. etc
The lead-in to the tree is done using whats available - the rocks, the sand, the shadows on the sand and I could have added some water to direct the eye – all tools to use that are part of that environment. Could also have put a strong west coast cloud above that would stop the eye from leaving the top of the painting and even point to the tree.
Big questions to ask:
• Does one colour dominate?
• Does one value dominate?
• Does one of the large shapes dominate?
• Is the centre of interest well located – off centre
• Is there an entry point?
• Are all exits blocked?
• Colour contrasts – compliments, temperature
• Value contrasts
• Shape contrasts
• Edge control
• Details – small marks
• Pointing/leading lines
• Effective brushwork
In this case the subject is very simple with simple shapes - a tree, some bushes, rocks, sand, shadows on sand, sky. You can use them as needed to make an interesting statement – of a west coast tree.
Lots of good reference books on composition. I strongly encourage reading and reading – different authors take a different approach and considering them all is probably best and the best way to drive the concepts home.
Long winded for a blog – hope it helps a bit.