Forums » Technical Challenges

IT'S NOT WHAT YOU PUT IN THE PAINTING - IT'S WHAT YOU LEAVE OUT.

    • 30 posts
    November 27, 2013 11:40 AM EST

    With 25cms of snow falling today in Ottawa its nice to remember just how beautiful the Fall colours can be so I posted this photo taken a few weeks ago.  Imagine if you wanted to capture this motif sketching outdoors, it would be a lot easier said than done...

    Needless to say; leaving detail out, resisting that urge and taking only what you need is the only way to avoid a mess, so how would you paint a scene like this?

    BTW.  Not suggesting anyone should work off this photo however it might be an interesting on-line discussion how you would paint this motif with all the crazy shapes in the fore and middle ground?

    What would you minimize or exclude and what would you give the emphasis to?

    • 287 posts
    November 28, 2013 11:55 PM EST

    I've copied the photo into the discussion so it's easier for everyone to see.

    This is a great challenge. How to simplify such a complex scene, while retaining it's punch? It's the sort of thing I ask my students to do. I'm going to take a better look at this Friday to see what I might do.

    Thanks for posting this Doug.

    Keith Thirgood

    • 30 posts
    November 29, 2013 2:49 PM EST

    Further to my 1st post and picture of the Dunrobin fields.  Imagine driving along this country road and come across this stunning view of freshly worked field with the Gatineau Hills off in the background.  Wide vista with big sky, lots of details but few really  landmarks to focus on for the basis of your composition.  Its got everything one would want however; in fact way more than you could reasonably use in a finished work.   Maybe somebody can prove me wrong on that statement albeit even the most experienced plein air painters would find reducing the space, line and form here a daunting task. Some painters use a square viewfinder (or use their hands) isolate a potential picture from the landscape around you, to serve as the subject of your painting. Using a viewfinder makes it a lot easier for you to choose the exact landscape portion that you wish to paint. 

    Just like a viewfinder, I have added three cropped photos taken from the original posted a few days ago.   As we all know from our plein air experiences you can drive for hours looking for a painting place but the reality is that just like this scene it’s remarkable how many motifs there are within one scene, and this one has many.  The first one would be a 12x16 landscape panel.  I completely ignore the ground in front of and look out into the middle ground where the lone tree and Barn roof become the focal in the foreground leading into the far fields and the hills.   Darken the foreground, lighten the middle leading into receding hills.  Take out the white roof on the right?  Just a thought.

    • 30 posts
    November 29, 2013 2:51 PM EST

    Attached is another photo.   This one would be a 10x12 and gives the lone tree and barn more importance.  Taking what you need and moving things is Ok so I would take out the trees immediately behind the lone tree, make the barn bigger and push the hills back further.  Just another thought?

    • 30 posts
    November 29, 2013 2:53 PM EST

    The one I like the best is this photo without buildings suitable for a 12x16 panel.  Still too much clutter but great line and one that could not only be massaged into a sketch with verve but also a large canvas.  Lots of thought required here.

    Once again I’m not suggesting OPAS members should paint from photos but rather this for some may be a good practical exercise and interesting how other members would take the challenge.

    See attached photo.

    Cheers

    Doug

     

    • 51 posts
    November 29, 2013 10:58 PM EST

    This is a great exercise Doug.  I immediately picked out the first and third versions when I saw the photo.  Your middle square version would, in my mind, be tricky.  I would want to warm up the tree or change the colour to a darker hue to bring it forward from the mid ground.  The first one is my favourite but I love trees and seem to have a penchant for unbalanced paintings, lol

    • 30 posts
    November 30, 2013 8:40 AM EST



    John Christie said:

    This is a great exercise Doug.  I immediately picked out the first and third versions when I saw the photo.  Your middle square version would, in my mind, be tricky.  I would want to warm up the tree or change the colour to a darker hue to bring it forward from the mid ground.  The first one is my favourite but I love trees and seem to have a penchant for unbalanced paintings, lol

    Hello John.  What plein air painter doesn't love rendering trees.  Nice thing about painting portraits of trees instead of people is a tree will never say to you "Hey that doesn't look like me!"

    • 51 posts
    November 30, 2013 9:03 AM EST
    My pronblem painting trees, and landscapes, is that I get painting and forget to look so all my trees look the same. My favourite instructor was constantly saying "Don't paint a tree. Paint that tree."
    • 287 posts
    November 30, 2013 11:24 AM EST

    The various crops suggested are all interesting and effective. I thought I'd try to see what could be done if most of the scene was kept, but the shapes simplified. 

    Here's a slight crop to fit a 12x16 board. I chose this crop to have the trees as my focal point:

    I've used a graphics program to simplify the shapes. These are the shapes I'd base my painting on.

    Getting rid of the original photo, my painting would end up like this, only with some painterly subtlety rather than solid blocks of colour.

    If you compare this to the original photo, you'll notice that I've exaggerated the profile of the mountains in the back and modified various shapes so that they lead the eye back to the focal point.

    Once you've created the strongest set of shapes, setting the mood you're looking for, then you can add as much detail as you desire.

    You could do the same approach to any of the crops suggested above.

    Cheers,

    Keith