Forums » Critique

RBG Sycamore

    • 51 posts
    December 6, 2012 3:57 PM EST

    I painted this yesterday when I was out at the Dundas(hamilton) RBG with John Mullenger.  It was about 2 deegrees with big billowy snow clouds but I elected to paint one of the huge Sycamore trees along the path.  It is an 11" X 15" watercolour on paper.  I am okay with it but feel that it needs something.

    • 51 posts
    December 7, 2012 1:00 PM EST

    Thanks Lynda.

    I agree that I should have been much bolder.  I have always been too tentative but in my studio I could add layers to build it up.  I am slowly getting more aggressive with my plein air paintings but I still have a long way to go.  This painting is a little darker in real life.  I am going to darken the foreground greens and see what happens.  Any more than that and I risk losing the plein air freshness.

    The tree is a very old Sycamore with most of the bark off and it glowed almost white.

    Lynda Sellar said:

    Hi John,

    I think that beautiful scene just needs more paint.  When I squint at it the way my  teacher taught me it's almost all the same value. Maybe needs more dark in the foreground and keep those lights in the back?  The tree is the lightest light...

    Today I tried to paint a scene I did about 4 years ago to try to correct the mistakes in composition, value and colour.  What a disaster.  I wasn't outside and only used the original painting for reference.  Big mistake not to be repeated!

    Lynda

    • 26 posts
    December 8, 2012 8:28 AM EST

    Perhaps introducing a dark value in the painting will give more depth. 

    • 288 posts
    December 8, 2012 9:13 AM EST

    I agree with Nancy and Lynda. You need to use more paint and build up the contrast. I know Sycamores and they are very white. They pop out from the background. If this was mine sketch, I would try darkening all of the background areas and lower the Chroma of the background at the same time. This would have the effect of pushing the background further into the distance and making the tree stand out.

    If I was painting this from scratch, I would have tried taking the pale tree on the left of the sheet and pointed it into the composition, rather than off the page. It might help to reduce the tendency for the eye to travel along the branches and out of the frame. Something like this:

    This is just what I would do, if I wanted to the tree the main subject and wanted a more punchy painting. If a punchy painting isn't what you were looking for, then ignore my comments. :-)

    Cheers,

    Keith

    PS. Are you going to come to Scottsdale Farm tomorrow (Sunday)? There should be snow and it's a great place to paint.

    • 51 posts
    December 8, 2012 6:30 PM EST

    Thanks for looking and commenting Nancy.  I agree that it needs more contrast.  I find darks easy to build up in layers in watercolour but I am not used to going as bold as I have to when painting en plein air.

    Nancy Jones said:

    Perhaps introducing a dark value in the painting will give more depth. 

    • 51 posts
    December 8, 2012 6:35 PM EST

    Hi Keith.  Punchy is what I want but I don't have a punchy personality so it is a struggle.  I tried upping the contrast with photoshop too.  I didn't go quite as dark as you did but yours looks good.  Good catch with the tree.  I fell in the trap of painting what was there instead of what was best for the composition.

    I am planning on being there tomorrow. I am not sure when I will get there though.

    Keith Thirgood said:

    I agree with Nancy and Lynda. You need to use more paint and build up the contrast. I know Sycamores and they are very white. They pop out from the background. If this was mine sketch, I would try darkening all of the background areas and lower the Chroma of the background at the same time. This would have the effect of pushing the background further into the distance and making the tree stand out.

    If I was painting this from scratch, I would have tried taking the pale tree on the left of the sheet and pointed it into the composition, rather than off the page. It might help to reduce the tendency for the eye to travel along the branches and out of the frame. Something like this:

    This is just what I would do, if I wanted to the tree the main subject and wanted a more punchy painting. If a punchy painting isn't what you were looking for, then ignore my comments. :-)

    Cheers,

    Keith

    PS. Are you going to come to Scottsdale Farm tomorrow (Sunday)? There should be snow and it's a great place to paint.

    • 26 posts
    December 9, 2012 9:39 AM EST

    I agree glazing would be the technique I would use.  Have fun and remember to maintain your vision.