Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reworking a Painting

I am currently taking part in a weekly webinar, hosted by WetCanvas Live, and taught by Johannes Vloothuis.  I am amazed at the quality of instruction, and in the fact that this is offered free of charge.  It's not difficult to be a ongoing student of art, with all of the options available to us today.

I have learned so much in just 4 sessions, and I am trying to put my new awarenesses to the test.  One thing that has impressed me, is the idea that (and for some this may be elementary), I don't have to be a slave to the photo.  I believe that I have made an effort to improve my photos in some aspects, but have ignored others.  One way that I want to make improvements, is to be more aware of composition.  I have, in prior paintings, tried to select photos that I felt had good qualities, and many times that encompassed having at least some basic compositional, positive qualities, but at other times I think I was taken-in with things like the colors represented in the scene, etc.  One such piece was "Shifting Gears."  I took this photo a couple of years ago, and have always loved the variation in color, and maybe even the layers, but in the painting, something just wasn't working for me.  In nature, what may be beautiful, doesn't always translate into a great painting.  So, I decided to take some of what I have learned, and try to improve upon "Shifting Gears."  I guess you could say that, in actual practice, I am shifting gears, and taking into consideration some basic compositional truths.

Here's the old version:

Several things have bugged me about this painting.  For one, though the actual scene was in layers, as you see here, I really did not like the result.  I also am not too happy with the intense darks of the tree trunks (something Johannes says the photo will do - make the darks too dark).  Then, I don't like the little details in the foreground.  So, back to the drawing board...

I decided that, though the oak trees were bare in their natural environment, they did not translate well, and so I chose to add some foliage.  I also muted the darks of the trunks, and other darks in the distance, with a grayed down purple.  I softened the detail in the foreground with a gray-green, and then was much more selective in how I added it back in, in just little hints.  Though the mustard in nature was so beautiful, it was too garish in the painting.  So, I just hinted at the mustard.  Another thing I did to break up the horizontal lines, is to bring the left-hand tree trunk closer, and I also added more bushes, and grasses, overlapping the horizontal lines.  None of these changes, in themselves, are huge, but with all of them together, they have improved the painting, I think.  I wonder what Johannes would say?

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